Harvest : Concerto for Trombone (2009)
for solo trombone and orchestra without strings
Click to buy : Score: $95. Parts for hire.
duration: circa 18'
Commissioned by The Ridgewood Concert Band, The West Point Military Academy Band,
University of Texas at Austin, United States Air Force Academy, Illinois State University,
University of Florida, Miami University, University of Georgia, Texas Tech University, Case Western Reserve University, Ithaca College, University of South Carolina, University of Washington, Roxbury High School, University of South Florida, Florida State University, Baylor University, Syracuse University, McNeese State University, Arizona State University, University of Alabama.
"Harvest: Concerto for Trombone" is based on the myths and mystery rituals of the Greek god Dionysus. As the Olympian god of the vine, Dionysus is famous for inspiring ecstasy and creativity. But this agricultural, earth-walking god was also subjected each year to a cycle of agonizing death before glorious rebirth, analogous to the harsh pruning and long winter the vines endure before blooming again in the spring. The concerto's movements attempt to represent this dual nature and the cycle of suffering and return.
The concerto is set in three connected sections, totaling approximately 18 minutes. The first section begins with a slow introduction, heavy on ritualistic percussion, representing the summoning of Dionysus's worshippers to the ceremony. The rite itself builds in intensity, with Dionysus (represented, of course, by the solo trombone) engaging in call and response with his followers, some of whom are driven to an ecstatic outcry -- almost a "speaking in tongues" --represented by insistent woodwind trills. But when Dionysus transitions to a gentler tone, his frenzied worshippers do not follow. Their fervor overcomes them, and they tear their god to shreds in an act of ritual madness.
This brutal sacrifice by the ecstatic worshippers -- the pruning of the vine -- is followed without pause by the second section, representing Dionysus in the stillness of death, or winter. The god is distant, the music like a prayer.
The shoots of spring burst forth in the final section, following again without pause. The earth is reborn as Dionysus rises again, bringing the ecstasy and liberation that have been celebrated in his name for centuries.
"Harvest: Concerto for Trombone" is dedicated to Joseph Alessi.