Works for Winds and Percussion

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hymn for a breakthrough for winds and percussion (2014) - 5'

Commissioned by Wake Forest University
C. Kevin Bowen, Director of Bands
Level: Advanced


Premiere: April 27, 2014
Brendle Recital Hall
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Wake Forest University Wind Ensemble
C. Kevin Bowen, Conductor


Program Notes:

When Kevin Bowen approached me to be a part of their Young Composer Series, he encouraged me to use the University Motto as a means of inspiration, just as the previous in the series had done. I decided  to use “Pro Humanitate” in its most broad sense, meaning “for all of humanity.”

The concept of hymn for a breakthrough precluded the actual writing of the piece. I wanted to write something that celebrated the moments when we, as a society, “break through” a barrier. This concept can manifest itself in numerous forms: a breakthrough discovery in the medical field, breaking through racial barriers, a breakthrough in communications between warring sides… Anytime we use the word “breakthrough,” it is often to suggest an exciting success in the face of great adversity. The musical manifestation of this for me was to use the Wake Forest Alma Mater, “Dear Old Wake Forest,” as a source from which I could pull strains of melodic and harmonic material.

Though the use of the word hymn references the more chorale-like melody found throughout, hymn for a breakthrough employs a constant drive, even when the tempo is vague. Some of the greatest breakthroughs we have experienced are a result of constant determination and effort, as represented by this rhythmic drive. There are numerous instances of tension and dissonance, but most lead to a moment of resolve. 

hymn for a breakthrough is dedicated to Kevin Bowen and the Wake Forest University Bands. I am honored to have been selected as a part of their Young Composer Series, and I look forward to numerous other collaborations. I am, however, disappointed that I never received any response to my undergraduate application to the University. I felt quite satisfied with myself when I answered the essay question, “What is the worst quality about your generation?” with, simply, “APATHY.” (True Story)