Announcing my wind ensemble consortium: neverending rain
Hello, everyone! It’s been awhile. I hope everyone’s summer has been safe and temperate. I’ve moved regions, the cats have settled into the new place, and though there’s a lot of active change in my life, it’s largely for the better. (Besides, it’s not 120 outside every day!)
As we pivot back to school for the fall semester, I’m thrilled to announce my very first wind ensemble consortium: a grade 2-2.5 piece called neverending rain. Stepping on board with me as consortium lead for this project is Nathan Witte, a dear friend and middle school band director currently teaching in Georgia. I’ve been talking to him about this project for months, and after the successful run of my consortium for go to the garden earlier this year, now feels like the right time to tackle a large ensemble. Because wind ensembles were a formative part of my own music education, returning to the instrumentation this year means a lot to me—it’s a chance to engage with musicians of all ages and experience levels and explore some fun, friendly ways we can make noise together. I’m excited!
Like many of my works, neverending rain has its roots in the real world. As I create this piece, I’ll be reflecting on the myriad ways our relationships change as each of us discovers and redefines who we are. Though this has been an area of deep thought for me for the past couple years for more pointed identity reasons, it’s something we all navigate as part of life: whether it’s entering adulthood through college or in the workforce, moving away from home and our families, starting a new chapter through marriage or a partnership of some kind, adjusting to the demands of a career, or something else entirely, in many respects, reassessing and readjusting our relationships can be a near-constant force in our lives.
Sometimes that’s a great feeling—somebody wonderful enters our world, or someone we’ve known for a long time becomes important to us in a new and fulfilling way—but sometimes it’s sad. Sometimes, the growth we naturally experience over the course of our lives drives us away from people we thought (or hoped) would be there for the long haul. Sometimes that growth doesn’t come fast enough to save a strained relationship. Sometimes a beloved friendship turns incompatible. And, though not always, a lot of the time that change is out of our direct control.
neverending rain will be an examination of both the good and the not-so-good pivot points in our relations with others. I hope to create a sonic space that leaves room for reflection, should performers or audiences desire it, while providing engaging musical questions for the performers involved. Regardless of your wind band’s personnel, I endeavor to make sure you can program this piece; all consortium members will take home a flex edition as well as a fully-orchestrated score!
neverending rain will also be an opportunity for me to reflect on my work and how far I’ve come, as it is a follow-up to (Calm) Before the Storm, a movement from my 2015 trumpet trio RPM that was written for a dear friend at the time. That movement in particular is much-loved and to this day remains one of my more programmed works.
Oh, and I’m adapting it for wind ensemble as part of this consortium, too—so if you want, you can get two pieces out of this deal. Now that we’ve got the big idea out of the way, let’s talk specifics:
Nuts and Bolts (technical considerations)
neverending rain will be a grade 2-2.5* wind ensemble work of three to five minutes in length that explores the ups and downs of re-negotiating friendships as each of us grows into the people we want to be. The piece will be a ballad (likely 70-80bpm), with the potential for one additional, faster tempo (~96-116bpm) arriving in the middle of the piece. All non-pitched percussion in the piece can be played either on the listed instruments or using found percussion whose timbre or performance method supports the musical moment at hand (suggestions and additional guidance will be provided). Additionally, wind players across the ensemble will have the opportunity to contribute to the overall soundscape through occasional calls for air noises or similar ambient sounds made using their instruments and/or surroundings.
(To facilitate smooth rehearsals for groups of all ages, directors will be able to either direct performers toward specific sounds or open the floor for experimentation. Middle and high school band teachers, I especially want to keep this as painless as possible for you.)
A flex band arrangement will also be provided to consortium members at both tiers. Ideally, neverending rain will provide an opportunity to engage with performers about how we can (and sometimes do) frame sound as music while allowing directors to control the level of chaos across the group.
Though I intend to follow grading rules pretty closely, in the event I want to stretch ever so slightly beyond what a grade 2.5 should be, appropriate cross-cues and/or optional notes will be provided so the piece remains accessible to as many musicians as possible.
neverending rain‘s orchestrated version will be scored for no more than the following instruments (instrument names in parentheses will not have solos and can be removed if need be): (Piccolo), Flutes 1 & 2, (Oboe), (Bassoon), Clarinets 1 & 2, Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophones 1 & 2, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Trumpets 1 & 2, French Horn, Trombones 1 & 2, Euphonium (with Baritone TC part provided also), Tuba, Timpani, and percussion which may include triangle, suspended cymbal, crash cymbal(s), snare drum, bass drum, bells, and marimba. Where possible, I will endeavor to keep each instrument to one part, but I want to allow for the possibility of two parts in the cases listed above to ensure I’m producing the best possible work rather than artificially preventing that.
Tier 1: $75
Consortium members who sign on for neverending rain at Tier 1 will receive:
- a fully-orchestrated wind ensemble version of neverending rain
- a flex band version (4-6 parts) of neverending rain
- exclusive performance rights from January 1-December 31, 2023
- your/your ensemble’s name listed in the score and anywhere I share the full consortium membership
- a personalized note from me, Eris, to your ensemble, which I’ll send your way no later than January 31, 2023
Tier 2: $125
Tier 2 consortium members will receive all Tier 1 benefits listed above. But to add to the fun, you’ll also get the following:
- wind ensemble orchestration of (Calm) Before the Storm (grade 2.5*, run time approx. 2′)
- flex band orchestration (4-part) of (Calm) Before the Storm
- exclusive performance rights, along with all Tier 2 members, to both versions of (Calm) Before the Storm until June 1, 2023
- One virtual visit with your ensemble (live or pre-recorded—to sit in on a rehearsal, have a Q&A, or talk about being a composer, navigating my identity as a queer composer, or a related topic of mutual agreement) OR one personalized video (up to ten minutes) to be presented to your ensemble or audience that introduces and contextualizes neverending rain and/or addresses a topic of mutual agreement
- A hyperlink (to your program’s website or similar) attached to your/your program’s name anywhere I share the consortium membership online
Though (Calm)… was written much earlier in my career, it is the sister piece to neverending rain, and directors may choose to program the two ballads on the same program, on multiple concerts across the same season, or completely independently of each other. Do whatever makes the most sense for you and your group(s)!
Want to listen to a sneak preview of what I think (Calm)… is going to sound like? Check out a little snippet of some MIDI:
Join the Consortium
If you’ve read this far and you like what you’ve seen, good news: you can join the consortium today! Use the button below (or above) to fill out the form and reserve your spot. It’ll ask you for some basic details (your name, your ensemble’s name if you’re attached to one, your role so we know who we’re talking to, etc.) and to select which tier you’d like to join at. Once we’ve gotten your information, you’ll get a welcome email confirming your registration and outlining when to look for your next update. Expect a contract and detailed payment instructions from me within a couple weeks—we’re set up to handle credit/debit cards, PayPal, checks, and POs, though please note the payment deadline for POs and checks is December 1 while the deadline for PayPal and credit/debit is December 15. If you need another option, we’re happy to work with you to figure that out; just drop us a line and let us know.
You’ll get two update emails from me about writing the piece (one in October, one in November), a couple friendly deadline reminders along the way, and then, no later than December 31, 2022 at 11:59pm Pacific Standard Time, I’ll send you the finished work(s)! I aim to deliver early so I’m not spending New Year’s Eve proofreading, but you’ll have the completed music in your inboxes well before the Rose Parade starts up no matter what.
Nathan and I are so excited to go on this journey together, and we’re really looking forward to taking as many of you on the ride with us as possible. Before I leave you that link one more time, I want to make one note: while this piece for me is very much about being queer, I know some of you teach in states that have recently made discussing that in school contexts illegal (and others of you live in states that might try the same thing next year). neverending rain will be delivered with two sets of program notes. One will be the slightly more honest, openly queer set; the other will refrain from explicitly mentioning queerness so you can still share my words about my work in your programs without getting in trouble with your administrators. Even if you can’t say “nonbinary” out loud in your classes, by programming my work as a genderqueer composer, you’re still bringing something critically important to your students. I’m grateful for all that you do.
Now, will you come dance in the rain with me?
*grading based on the American Band College Music Grading Chart