Wind Songs

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college-photo_17586._445x280-zmm.jpg

Wind Songs

24.50

for oboe, bassoon, and french horn (1982)

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Shelley Showers, french horn.

Shelley Showers, french horn.

David McGill, bassoon.

David McGill, bassoon.

Kathryn Greenbank, oboe

Kathryn Greenbank, oboe

(Banner photo: the Curtis Institute of Music.)

  • Premiere: 6 April 1982 / Philadelphia, PA / Curtis Hall, Curtis Institute of Music / Katherine Greenbank, oboe; David McGill, bassoon; Shelley Showers, horn
  • Instrumentation: ob.bn.hn
  • Duration: 9'

I. Clara Asleep
II. Sexton in Central Park
III. Rain Through Café Windows
IV. Oranges & Chocolates

Rarely has a young composer been blessed with such extraordinarily gifted players. All three are now leaders in their field. But, in  1982, we were all still just kids. I composed for them a suite of miniatures collectively titled Wind Songs at the request of David McGill. The result was more than a devoir, it ended up being a delicious quartet of miniatures that began my love affair with the double reeds.

The first movement, Clara Asleep, marked "like a subdued organ prelude," was a musical portrait of my cat. She was at the time no larger than my fist, and delighted in sleeping in the bay window of my Spruce Street studio apartment overlooking tiny, cobbled South Alder Street. (She lived an amazing 24 years. During the last three she ate nothing but a tablespoon of sushi grade tuna each day and a quarter cup of water.)

The second movement, Sexton in Central Park, is a self portrait: I am waiting for a lesson at Ned's apartment in Manhattan, reading Anne Sexton's poetry -- which I was setting at the time as a large orchestral song cycle called Days Without You for soprano Karen Hale. 

Next came Rain Through Café Windows. I began this movement in July of 1981, while living in Madison, Wisconsin. Begun as a setting of an original poem entitled "Nineteen to Twenty," it was composed in the (now, sadly, long gone) Ovens of Brittany café on State Street while watching the rain fall outside. Musical fragments of this movement have ended up over the past thirty years in pieces as divergent in intent and affect as Postcards from America for orchestra and the opera Shining Brow.

The finale, Oranges & Chocolates is marked "merry" and contrasts two ideas — one tart, the other creamy. It is a musical memento of an excellent dessert enjoyed one afternoon in the dining room of the Barclay Hotel on Rittenhouse Square with Gian Carlo Menotti and Norman Stumpf. 

Wind Songs was completed in January of 1982 in Philadelphia for three fellow pupils at the Curtis Institute of Music — Katherine Greenbank, David McGill, and Shelley Showers — who together performed it for the first time on 6 April 1982 in Curtis Hall. The little four movement suite lasts about nine minutes and is dedicated to them.