Auguries of Innocence for winds and percussion (2014) - 13'

Commissioned by the University of North Texas
Department of Wind Studies
The Green Brigade Marching Band
The UNT Chapters of Phi Mu Alpha, Sigma Alpha Iota,
and Mu Phi Epsilon
Dr. Nicholas Enrico Williams, Organizer

Level: Advanced

Premiere: September 25, 2014
University of North Texas
The North Texas Wind Symphony
Eugene Migliaro Corporon, Conductor

Reference Recording:
The North Texas Wind Symphony
Eugene Migliaro Corporon, Conductor

Program Notes:

When I was asked to write a piece in honor of one of the legends in our field, the task was immediately more daunting than any other so far in my career as a composer. Eugene Migliaro Corporon is a name that I read on the CD covers of some of my favorite recordings, dating back to my earliest days in school band programs. He has been a part of the development of some of the best educators and performers throughout the country, and to say that I am honored to write a piece recognizing his commitment and impact on music would be an incredible understatement.

Auguries of Innocence takes its name from that of one of my favorite poems of the great William Blake. Blake offers the idea that the natural world can be regenerated in time and that nature itself can be an augury, or omen, to the lost vision of innocence. The poem is filled with randomly organized cuplets of paradoxical imagery, all focused on the idea that it is wise to see the world through two eyes rather than one. Innocence is juxtaposed with evil, big with small, long with short. In my opinion, the most powerful words, and those that most motivated my decision to honor Blake's work with my title, come from the opening stanza:

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.

My musical interpretation uses the idea of these paradoxes to create numerous competing elements presented in various instrument groups, textures, tempos, tonalities, etc. The most notable dichotomy is the use of one of my favorite chorale figures, happily borrowed from Chopin's Scherzo in C# minor. The chorale is first presented in major from the woodwinds, only to be immediately usurped by the minor tonality and contrasting rhythm from the low brass. From here, the rest of the piece presents numerous musical paradoxes and opposing forces: conflicting rhythms, contrasting timbres, contrary motion, etc. I even attempt to honor Professor Corporon with the use of a morse code figure found in the mallet percussion (EMC, or . -- -.-.).

The piece does not follow the poem in any specific way, but rather seeks to present what I believe is one of the most important messages of Blake’s work: there are numerous ways to interpret a single idea, or to form our opinions of a concept, whether it be musical or otherwise. However, what we may deem as unsavory or less satisfying may, in turn, be most satisfying to another. 

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