Ice Flow for Symphony Band (PDF) - Forbes
The University of Wisconsin – La Crosse is located in what many refer to as the “Coulee Region” where many springs, tributaries and at least seven prominent rivers pool and slowly drain into the Mississippi River. Nowadays referred to as the “Seven-River-Region,” I felt it might be interesting to compose a work that portrays the beautiful natural features of this region in its most dramatic climate: winter thawing into spring.
Using seven different motives to represent the different rivers, one can trace and actually listen to each motive develop or “thaw” into something less rigid and more musically fluid. At the same time, each motive begins to add or combine with other motives to make larger musical phrases. Just as the seven rivers and their tributaries melt and thaw on cracking warm spring days, the piece begins to pick up pace as motives combine and flow into one another drawing to a massive climax.
One of my goals in writing this work for wind ensemble was to showcase the ensemble in such a way that it might not sound like a typical band. Keen listeners will hear all kinds of varied extra-musical techniques used to create the brittle sounds of shimmery crystals and frozen ice in La Crosse’s harsh winter. These glassy, metalic textures eventually thaw to warmer passages utilizing wooden timbres in the percussion and muted tones in the brass. Eventually the ensemble showcases its true orchestral power as the spring melt begins to bustle through tight waterways, threatening the riverbanks with its powerful flowage. Finally, a dramatic climax is reached as these waters round the bend and flow dramatically into the mighty Mississippi River.