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Length: c. 5 minutes
Orchestration: 3 flutes, 2 oboes, 3 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani and percussion, piano, and strings
Tonight's composers share much; indeed, two of the three are living and writing in the U.S. today. Frank Ticheli was born in 1958 in Monroe, Louisiana. He received a Bachelor of Music in Composition from Southern Methodist University, and a Master's Degree in Composition and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Michigan. In the '80s, while a student at Michigan, Ticheli met Carl St.Clair, who was at the time a faculty member there. Ticheli has composed works for bands, wind ensemble (he himself is a brass player and transposes on-sight, making him a natural composer for winds), orchestra, chamber ensembles, and the theater. He loves the commitment to new music that he often finds in wind ensembles, but his first love is the orchestra. He has provided the following note about his concert-opening piece, Shooting Stars:
"Shooting Stars was commissioned by the Pacific Symphony, Carl St.Clair, Music Director, for the occasion of the opening concert of their 25th anniversary season. The work received its premiere performance by the orchestra on October 8-9, 2003 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center's Segerstrom Hall. It is offered as a symbol of my enduring friendship with conductor Carl St.Clair, and as a gesture of thanks for the seven years I enjoyed as the Pacific Symphony's Composer in Residence (1991-98). Originally, St.Clair requested a short orchestral fanfare for the occasion. But having already given the orchestra Pacific Fanfare in 1996, I felt a strong need to create something different this time. I had in mind a short, ecstatic dance, bright and breathless in quality.
"The work's title came after its completion, but throughout the creative process I was imagining flashes of color that come and go quickly. 'White-note' clusters are sprinkled everywhere, suggesting streaks of bright light. High above, the E-flat clarinet shouts out the main theme. Underneath, the low brasses and strings punch out a series of staccatissimo chords, intensifying the dance-like energy. Within the first half-minute, a chordal horn passage interrupts the main theme, still sharing its breathless, urgent quality. Fleeting events of many kinds are cut and pasted at unexpected moments, keeping the ear on its toes. The piece burns quickly, and ends explosively, scarcely leaving a trail."
Ticheli's title says a lot. At only five minutes, and with exceedingly fast-paced energy, his piece is a sizzling icebreaker. It shows us why he so loves the orchestra; the work is filled with rich color, as well as rhythmic drive.
- Jessie Rothwell is the Publications Coordinator for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She also writes music, plays oboe, and sings Bulgarian folk music.