Concerto for Orchestra





instrumentation - - timp; 3 perc., harp, piano/celesta


25 min.

commissioned by

Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music

premiered by

Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Stéphane Denève, conductor


Concerto for Orchestra grew out of my friendship with conductor Stéphane Denève. It is dedicated both to him and to the musicians of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, for whom I have developed great admiration since their first performance of my music in 2004. The creative entry point for me was the discovery of young Amanda Gorman’s beautiful poem “Hymn for the Hurting” written in response to the horrific school shooting—an occurrence now routine in our country—in Uvalde, Texas in May 2022. The music at the concerto’s opening—recalled briefly at various places throughout the piece—is my immediate musical reaction to it. The title of the second movement, “Caccia”, is a reference to the 14th century musical form depicting the hunt or the chase and flows directly from this opening hymn. It continues the opening movement’s focus on the various groups of instruments in the orchestra beginning with the oboes and punctuated at all times by the orchestra's three percussionists who play identical collections of six drums. “Music Box with Arietta”, by contrast, explores the gentler side of the percussion section, led here by cascading gestures played by the harp and celesta, giving way to a lyrical counterpoint of woodwinds. “Toccata” is a quick exchange between the strings, the winds, and the percussion. Eventually the brass section asserts itself, cutting across these exchanges with brash, angular lines. A brief refrain of the opening movement leads to a gentle “Siciliana” featuring nearly all instruments in the orchestra in lyrical ways, perhaps most prominently the piano. Another refrain introduces the final movement, another “Caccia”, this one containing a brief quotation from the Mozart opera which inspired it.