downside-up for winds and percussion (2016) - 5.5'

Commissioned by:

Collins Hill High School (Suwanee, GA)
Daniel Treuman, Director
Mill Creek High School (Hoschston, GA)
Erik Mason, Director
Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA)
Robert J. Ambrose, Chester B. Phillips, and David W. Vandewalker, Directors
University of West Georgia (Carrollton, GA)
Josh Byrd, Director
South Dakota State University (Brookings, SD)
Jacob Wallace, Director
Whitewater High School (Fayetteville, GA)
Jack Jean, Director

Level: Medium Advanced

Premiere: January 29, 2016 - Georgia MEA In-Service Conference
The Classic Center - Athens, Georgia
Collins Hill High School Wind Ensemble
Daniel Treuman, Conductor

Program Notes:

The music of William Pitts is full of excitement and enthusiasm, often combining agile rhythms with a bold palette of colors and soaring, joyful melodic lines. downside-up, a work commissioned by a consortium led by Collins Hill and Mill Creek High Schools, is in this vein from start to finish. The wind band version of the work is an expanded arrangement of a 2009 work of the same name for clarinet and string quartet that Mr. Pitts composed as a student at Emory University. Regarding the optimistic ebullience of the work, the composer says the following:

“Today, optimism is one of the few human attributes that prevails in the midst of a world full of bad news. I have learned that if I try to find the positive among all of the negatives, I have a greater sense of fulfillment. These enthusiastic ideas permeate my music as well. downside-up was written as a musical outcry of ‘positivity.’”

The work opens with a quasi-aleatoric introduction that presents some of the motivic content that drives the bulk of the piece, with rising gestures in the clarinets accompanied by lush harmonies and a vibrant array of percussion colors. From there, the piece rockets forward with a constant rhythmic percolation. The remainder of the work breaks up into three major sections. First, a lithe and bubbly exposition with unpredictable metric shifts that is immediately followed by a more pensive development incited by an insistent percussion ostinato. The work’s recapitulation harkens back to the primary material, but with the order of events largely reversed (truly downside-up) to conclude with a brilliantly exuberant expansion of the first theme.

Mr. Pitts adds, "This version of the piece is dedicated to Daniel, who has been my best friend since first meeting in the Phantom Regiment in 2007. We served as best men in each other's weddings, and we've been up to hijinks and tomfoolery ever since. We can be found collaborating on music, fine dining, clothing (mostly me trying to figure out how to dress more like him), and many other subjects. Our poor wives..."

Program note by Jake Wallace

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