Chamber concerto for tuba and thirteen players

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Menoche, Charles Paul

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The Chamber Concerto pays homage to the composer’s roots as a tuba player. It is scored for solo tuba, flute (doubling piccolo), oboe, clarinet (doubling bass clarinet), alto saxophone (doubling soprano saxophone), bassoon, two trumpets, horn, trombone, two percussion, and two synthesizer keyboards. It draws inspiration from American poet Charles Olson’s (1910–1970) 1950 essay, “Projective Verse.” Olson argues for the importance of “breath” in the shaping of a line of poetry and projecting the verse. Building upon Olson’s discussion, rhythm, as a division of time, becomes a key structural element in this concerto. In addition, Olson’s poetic treatment of words and phrases is roughly analogous to twelve-tone serial composition: the row, its orderings, juxtapositions, and transformations explore the inherent relationships of pitches, becoming objects that combine, contrast, accumulate, and build upon one another to form the larger piece. The composition is in three-movement (fast–slow–fast) concerto form, with a rhapsodic quasi-cadenza for the tuba in the second movement. The first movement is a five-part modified arch form. Inspired by Olson, the first movement is built from a combination of equal length breaths. Breaths and combinations of breaths determine the lengths of movement, primary sections, and transitions. The second movement shapes itself via interactions of different but concurrent time measurement systems. Time is divided by a series of repeating cycles and canons of various lengths; these interactions and intersections create a seven-part modified arch form. The third movement follows a conventional seven-part rondo form. Unlike the first and second movements, which divide large time units into smaller units and cycles, the third movement explores an additive rhythmic structure, building rhythms from patterns of durational units. In all movements the row selection emphasizes common motivic or hexachordal content, creating temporary pitch centers, imitative material, and resolutions through delayed completion of chromatic aggregates.




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