SCENES FROM CHILDHOOD
For Wind Ensemble
Duration: 17 minutes
Commissioned by, and dedicated to, Dr. Matthew J. George and the University of St. Thomas Symphonic Wind Ensemble, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.
The work is in 5 movements:
1. Changing The Guard
This refers to the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, London. Every week day at 11.00, a Guards band sets off with the soldiers who will be guarding the palace that day, and marches to the palace forecourt where the official handover takes place. My mum used to take me to see this regularly, and whenever I went, there were always scores of children marching up and down pretending to be the soldiers. I have used the bulk of the band as the Military Band, with the orchestral woodwind taking the role of the children imitating the soldiers.
2. Ballet Shoes & Tutus
I kept thinking about jewellery/music boxes that have a clockwork ballerina inside. Most little girls seem to have dreamt of one day being a ballerina. The ostinato figures represent the movement of the ballerina spinning around in the box, while the saxophone section in the middle loosely depicts a pas-de-deux, although I have used all four saxophones.
3. The Circus Troupe
This movement was inspired by an old Edwardian photograph, which showed a group of acrobats, jugglers, tumblers and clowns in costume. I have tried to picture this movement through the eyes of a single child who is watching all of these things going on at the same time; hence the disjointed nature of the music as their attention is drawn from one circus act to another.
4. Magic Lamps & Flying Carpets
I thought about the idea of taking children to the theatre/movies to see films like Aladdin or Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Coming back home, they may well spend the next few days/weeks re-enacting scenes from the stories that they have seen and heard. The movement is not programmatic in any way; I have simply tried to create a soundworld that gives a sense of the exotic and mysticism that is central to so many the legends and fairy tales that emanate from 'The East'.
5. The Toy Shop
A toy shop (at least an old-fashioned one!) contains toys, games and costumes that would relate to all of the previous movements. As such, this movement consists of brief references back to the thematic material that makes up the first four movements. The end of the movement represents the winding down of mechanical/clockwork toys, until the whole thing comes to a halt
Scenes From Childhood received its first performance by the University of St. Thomas Symphonic Wind Ensemble under their conductor, Dr. Matthew J. George, on Sunday, 19th October 2008, at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, MN, USA.
Publisher: Studio Music
Picc., Fls. 1.2, Obs. 1.2 (2nd dbl. C.A.), Eb Cl., Bb Cls. 1.2.3, Bb B. Cl., Bssns 1.2,
Bb Sop. Sax., Eb A. Sax., Bb Ten. Sax., Eb Bar. Sax.,
Bb Tpts. 126.96.36.199, F Horns 188.8.131.52, Trbs 1.2.3, Euph. , Tubas 1.2,
D. Bass, Pno., Timp., Perc 184.108.40.206
The title is borrowed from the English translation of Robert Schumanns KINDERSZENEN Op. 15. Schumann's work contains thirteen movements that are adult reminiscences of his own childhood, whereas this work is not specifically autobiographical, although there are some elements of this piece where I have drawn on personal experience/memories.
The piece employs large-scale forces, but the scoring is generally quite light, with the two slower movements (2 & 4) making extensive use of the percussion section.
From All Sides
University of St. Thomas Symphonic Wind Ensemble
Cond. Matthew George
RNCM WInd Orchestra
Cond. Mark Heron