The Saturn Expedition (2015)

Orchestra

Written for the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at Interlochen Arts Camp. The entire work was outlined, orchestrated, rehearsed, and performed all within the 6-week summer music program. 

World Premiere: August 9th, 2015 (part of Interlochen's "Les Preludes" final concert)

Program Notes:

The Saturn Expedition was written this summer for the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, and follows an imaginative space journey from the Earth to Saturn and back. I was greatly influenced by two of my favorite composers in writing this piece, John Adams and Igor Stravinsky. I challenged myself in this composition to use mixed meter, crunchy harmonies, and unexpected syncopations with the goal of keeping the listener actively engaged in the storyline of the music, while also conveying different elements of space travel. 
As a child, I was fascinated by space, and my particular obsession with the ringed planet inspired the concept of this piece. It begins with the imagery of NASA preparing to launch a rocket toward Saturn. The level of precision and preparation that goes into a rocket launching is reflected in the intense mixed meter rhythms in the opening of the piece. Once past Earth’s atmosphere, the orchestration momentarily thins down to the strings alone, and is then joined by abrupt melodic lines in the winds, alluding to the curiosity an astronaut would have as he or she gazes at all the stellar objects floating in the solar system. The excitement builds as the rocket gets closer and closer to its destination, but suddenly the rocket is out of control, and likewise the orchestra jumps back into mixed meter. Finally, the rocket approaches the ringed planet peacefully, and with Saturn and its colorful rings in view, a grand, luscious melody soars through the orchestra. The rocket then races back to Earth with wild excitement, eager to inform the Earthlings of its findings. 
J.W.G. II     

 

Film Score for "The Runners" (2015)

String ensemble, piano, vibraphone

Written for the Interlochen Motion Picture Arts program serving a short film, "The Runners," written by Nathaniel Hoopes and directed by Justin Wolman and Cat Cole. 

World Premiere Film Screening: August 8, 2015

South Bend Festival Overture (2014)

Orchestra

Written for the South Bend Youth Symphony Orchestra to celebrate the sesquicentennial anniversary of the City of South Bend, IN. 

World Premiere: May 3, 2015 (with the composer conducting the piece)

Program notes:

I wrote this piece to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the city of South Bend, Indiana, my hometown. The city was incorporated in the spring of 1865, so to structure the piece I decided to write a story of South Bend told through music.
The opening, marked Curioso, reflects the humble beginnings of the small settlement on the St. Joseph River, using the soft glow of woodwinds to convey this idea of discovery. As the piece grows and develops, a very traditional but rhythmically and articulately varied fanfare sings from the brass as a call to celebration. The main motif played by the horn section, which returns in various parts of the piece, evokes the innovative and uplifting times the city experienced within its first few decades.
But then, at the height of the piece, the entire orchestra except for one muted trumpet drops out. The strings, piano, and harp modulate the opening chords of the piece, yet this time setting the mood for a more somber section. This flows into the section marked Rubato, December 9th, 1963. It represents the day on which the Studebaker automobile manufacturer announced it would cease all operation in South Bend, a sad and foreboding day for the city that had relied on the company for years. Solo oboe, marked lamentoso, takes the inspiring horn theme from earlier and turns it into a melancholic memory, which goes on to signify that the city itself would undergo an identity crisis in the years to come.
Emerging from this setback is a hopefulness that carries into a faster moving, progressive part of the piece. Cello and double bass move the orchestra along with a quick ostinato as winds, brass, and eventually the entire orchestra hold chords marked with crescendos. This illuminates the confidence that South-Benders have for their city, and it culminates in a modulated reprise of the fanfare from earlier. Then the horns pick up their happy melody again with tutti orchestra humming along, and the piece ends with three accented eighth notes, almost defiantly stomping out any of the lingering premonitions from the day Studebaker closed, and setting the stage for a hopeful and bright future ahead. 

J.W.G. II