Festive Overture

Symphony orchestra
3-3-3-3; 4-3-3-1; timp; 3 perc; strings

9 minutes


Festive Overture was completed in 1996 and was first performed by the Nizny-Novgorod Symphony under Vladimir Ziva.  The American premiere was in 2002, with the Santa Barbara Symphony conducted by Edwin Outwater.

As the title suggests, the Overture is a fast, light-hearted work beginning with a section featuring loud chords for the full orchestra setting up harmonies that are filled in by melodic fragments in the various sections of the orchestra over a fast lively bassoon accompaniment.  The rhythm of this accompaniment soon takes other shapes and leads to contrasting ideas in the winds and mallet percussion.  This constantly changing accompaniment figure gradually disappears into silence until a loud crash leads to a varied repetition of the opening of the work.  A climactic coda is interrupted by a brief, quieter and slower variant of the opening melodic fragments, after which the piece resumes its lively and festive character, coming to a quick end.  Some of the harmonic and rhythmic ideas in this work are also used in my opera Twelfth Night, commissioned and premiered by Long Leaf Opera of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In a sense, Festive Overture is an “overture” to Twelfth Night, prefiguring the music used for the comic characters of Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Feste.

In keeping with its lively character, Festive Overture is dedicated to my dog, Clara, whose “official” name is Madame Clara Schumann.