COMPOSER 1945–2013

Opus 98

Dances of Initiation (1993)

for Band

  • Maestoso
  • Andante moderato
  • Allegro

Duration: 7 min.

Premiere: 1993; University of Wisconsin, Eu Claire Band; D. George

Performance materials available from the publisher.

Dances of Initiation—but initiation into what? new uses, or overlaps of old harmonies? new and sometimes darker realms of feeling? new ways to count old rhythms? mystical or occult spirituality? … counterpoint? … color? … sensuality? I prefer to invite each person to decide for him- or herself. One interpretation of the provocative title suggests that the music initiates the ensemble into new and strange, but entirely effective ways of hearing the various musical components.

Leaving such meditations aside, the work is structured in three compact movements: the first, marked maestoso, is in 3/4 and uses more counterpoint than the others, some of it in fairly antique style. Indeed, the counterpoint begins immediately at the work’s onset. A main feature is the overlap of held chords against moving patterns of harmony in the rest of the band. Some passages feature close interlocking rhythms, in the character of 14th-century hocket, with some “kick” in the form of major-minor cross-relations.

The second movement (Andante moderato) is in 5/4 and gives a melodious solo to the first alto saxophone. Later, and very loudly, the whole band plays the same tune. Contrasting quiet moments highlight the flutes and glockenspiel.

The third movement (Allegro) is in an irregular 9/8 structure (2+2+2+3), which can be found in ethnic dance music as widely flung as Brazil and Yugoslavia. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)