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