Here’s some copy that I sent to Lonnie Klein, the conductor of the Las Cruces Symphony, which commissioned this piece in honor of the 100th anniversary of New Mexico’s becoming a state in 1912.
Dear Maestro Lonnie,
I want to call the piece Brave New World, borrowing Miranda’s lines from The Tempest:
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is!
O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.
The dedication reads: For Dr. Lonnie Klein and the Las Cruces Symphony and to all the brave new citizens of New Mexico, past, present and to come.
I know New Mexico is an ancient world, but to every generation that has come, going all the way back to the Clovis people, New Mexico has always been their Brave New World and I feel very keenly that that’s still true today.
Let me give you an idea of the shape of the piece. There’s a sort of overture, quick and very energetic which drives the truck up up to the cliff and off into the thin air, leaving us High, Wide and Lonely — vast spaces, tremendous vistas. Bird call is heard and leads to a plaintive English horn song which is taken over by the strings, representations of nature and the ancient peoples.
A little Spanish-flavored waltz emerges, a flirtation ensues. And then I imagined an old man listening to the waltz and announcing that he’ll show the kids what real dancing is. He picks up his castanets and launches into a Canarios of Gaspar Sanz, the 17th Century Spanish composer. The canarios, which comes from the Canary Islands sounds like an Irish jig played by a Spanish guitarist and canarios were known all over the European world in the 17th century. Our old Don dances up a storm and finally wears himself out, make his way over to a chair and with one final tap of his castanets, falls deep asleep. The dust settles, we are in the desert at night. In the distance a trumpet sings a lonely lullaby. Gradually sounds of the new day intrude into the dream. It’s the morning of the Fiesta. I couldn’t leave out New Mexico’s signature chilis. A big finish with lots of hot peppers.
Here’s the instrumentation:
- 2 flutes and piccolo (bird song needs the third part)
- Oboe and English horn (who can double 2nd Oboe)
- 2 Clarinets and Bass Clarinet
- 2 Bassoon
- 4 Horn
- 2 trumpets (fluegel horns for the off-stage lullaby)
- 3 Trombones
- Piano (There’s a whole-toney passage in thirds your pianist will want to look at and I’ll send it shortly. I figure that if I can play it, a real
- pianist will probably be able to read it at sight. Plus, it’s only about a dozen measures.
- 3 Percussion (including marimba, perhaps with some help from a friend here and there. (I love those block-long marimbas you find in Chiapas, which I recognize is a long way south of Las Cruces, but we won’t have the whole village, just two players)
- Standard Strings
Brave New World debuts September 29, 2012 with the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra. Get more information here