About this Recording
9.70255 - Wind Band Music - BRYANT, S. / PUCKETT, J. / MACKEY, J. (Shadow of Sirius) (Gedigian, University of Texas Wind Ensemble, Junkin)

Shadow of Sirius

Steven Bryant (b. 1972)
Concerto for Wind Ensemble (2007/2010)

Steven Bryant’s Concerto for Wind Ensemble came into existence in two stages, separated by three years. The first movement came about in 2006, when Commander Donald Schofield (then director of the USAF Band of Mid-America) requested a new work that would showcase the band’s considerable skill and viscerally demonstrate their commitment to excellence as representatives of the United States Air Force. Initial discussions centred on a concerto grosso concept, and from this, the idea evolved into one of surrounding the audience with three groups of players, as if the concertino group had expanded to encompass the audience.

As the piece took shape, Bryant realized he wanted to write much more than the “five to seven minutes” specified in the original commission, so he intentionally left the end of the work “open.” In 2009, Jerry Junkin, Director of Bands at The University of Texas at Austin, graciously agreed to lead a consortium to commission the project. “Economy of materials” is a guiding principle of Steven Bryant’s approach to composing this five-movement work.

Joel Puckett (b. 1977)
Shadow of Sirius (2009)

Joel Puckett’s Shadow of Sirius was the product of a consortium of American wind ensembles led by Michael Haithcock and the University of Michigan and is dedicated to Amy Porter. The work grew from the composer’s healing process after experiencing a personal tragedy in the Winter of 2009 that left him “unsure of how to even breath, let alone grieve.”

Soon after this tragedy, Puckett found a collection of poetry by W.S. Merwin entitled The Shadow of Sirius and was filled “with a profound sadness that is, at the same time, brimming with hope.” Each movement of this concerto for flute and wind ensemble offers the composer’s reflection on a single Merwin poem from the collection and seeks to explore a virtuosity of expression in addition to a virtuosity of technique. Puckett utilizes a spatial arrangement of flutists around the audience to envelope the listener.

The soloist on this recording is Marianne Gedigian, Professor of Flute and holder of the Butler Professorship in Music at The University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music.

John Mackey (b. 1973)
Kingfishers Catch Fire (2007)

John Mackey was commissioned to compose Kingfishers Catch Fire by a consortium of Japanese wind ensembles organized by Mamoru Nakata. A kingfisher is a bird with beautiful, brilliantly coloured feathers that appears as if it were on fire in sunlight. Kingfishers are extremely shy birds and are rarely seen, but when they are seen, they are undeniably beautiful.

The first movement is suspended in tone, but with hope, depicting the kingfisher slowly emerging from its nest in the early morning stillness, just after a heavy rain storm. The second movement imagines the bird flying out into the sunlight and features antiphonal trumpets placed behind the audience to give the listener a surround sound experience.

Anthony C. Marinello, III

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