CITY MUSIC was my first major effort for orchestra, written just after I left college and took a position in the Phoenix Symphony. It was written as a gift and tribute to Vilem Sokol, legendary conductor of the Seattle Youth Symphony, to whom I owe the inspiration to pursue music as a career. It was first performed in the Seattle Opera House by the Seattle Youth Symphony, with Vilem Sokol conducting, in May 1976.
Following a period of experimentation in college, I set out with this piece to consolidate what I had learned while attempting a more colloquial style. At the time, most orchestras were not performing “pops” concerts, but I felt that rock, blues, and jazz had a lot to offer. This work was the result. With the exception of Bernstein, most readily accessible American music was either overtly Romantic or based on folk or country music. This work was based more on music from the city, hence the name. Though the work does show a marked influence of the blues, and a lavish use of idiomatic percussion, the end result is primarily orchestral.
The first movement, “Song,” paints an exotic and cosmopolitan picture of the city with its esoteric sophistication and elan. Essentially a set of variations, the movement features two lavish and virtuosic fast variations, and an extended bluesy cadenza for solo violin.
The second movement, “Dance,” characterizes the hustle, bustle, and mega-caffeinated reality of life in the city. Its popular rhythms, cast in the form of a rondo, come together for an extended coda which builds to a wild frenzy at the end.