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Symphonic Dance

(1985, rev. 2004) for orchestra


duration: 7 minutes

premiere: Carmel Symphony Orchestra, David Pickett, March 1992
premiere of revised version: MAYO (Bloomington, IN), Thomas Loewenheim, November 21, 2004

audio (arrowheads navigate tracks):

   mp3 excerpt 1 (start)         mp3 excerpt 2 (end)


Perusal Score


Program Note

Symphonic Dance is a composition with a long and varied evolution, and has its origin in one of my first composition lessons with Frederick Fox back in fall of 1984. I was to compose a couple short melodies in the Phrygian mode, one slow and one fast. The following semester, I was taking orchestration and decided to use these melodies as the basis for my project, which became Symphonic Dance No. 1. As I have yet to compose Symphonic Dance No. 2, I have since dropped the “No. 1” from the title. This work was read at the end of the semester by one of the Indiana University orchestras. Symphonic Dance then went into hibernation for a while, until 1992, when it was premiered by David Pickett and the Carmel Symphony Orchestra.

In the summer of 2004, the piece resurfaced yet again when I was asked to send a few works to the Green Bay Symphony for consideration for performance during a planned residency there in 2006 (I will spend 3-4 works there working with the orchestra and various community groups). They want something to be performed by the Green Bay Youth Symphony as well. I thought my old Symphonic Dance might serve well for this, but after looking at the old, rather amateurish score, decided to ‘engrave’ at least the first page of the score with Finale, the state-of-the-art music notation program. Well, not unlike munching potato chips, it was hard to stop at the first page, and within a day or two, I had the whole score entered into Finale. While I was at it, I decided to make some revisions here and there, improving the orchestration and adding a bit of counterpoint and more detailed dynamics and articulations, and now we arrive at the new version of Symphonic Dance which will be premiered by Thomas Loewenheim and the MAYO in November 2004.

The form of Symphonic Dance is: Introduction (chorale), Exposition of Theme 1 and Theme 2, Development of themes 1 & 2, Recapitulation of both fast themes combined with the chorale from the introduction. The ‘chorale’ is presented first by cellos and basses in octaves right at the start. It returns fully harmonized in the brass during the recapitulation – in 3/4 time while the fast themes are played in 4/4 by the rest of the orchestra. Theme 2 is derived from the concluding neighbor-tone gesture of Theme 1, so they are very much related. The development is a bit like a dance competition, with short phrases being traded between various sections of the orchestra, as if they are all trying to one-up each other.

Score Samples

(pages 1, 2, 17, 18 of 18):