Firecracker Alley (In-Progress)
Duration: ca. 5'00"
Commissioned by the Kutztown University Wind Ensemble, Cornell Winds, Keystone Wind Ensemble, UB Concert Band, and a consortium of wind ensembles. This will be a fast concert opener/ender type piece. Contact Jeremy Justeson to join consortium or for more info.
Program Notes (In-Progress)
Growing up in Buffalo, NY, one of my favorite pastimes was setting off firecrackers with friends. We knew our parents wouldn't approve and would probably punish us if they found out—which made it all the more exciting—so we would meet in a secluded neighborhood alley. We had all sorts of firecrackers with crazy sounding names like Thunder Bombs, Crrackfires, Cherry Bombs, Sonic Booms, and so on, not to mention our favorites, bottle rockets.
Blowing things up made us feel empowered. We were literally playing with fire, and we knew we were doing something dangerous and possibly illegal (I mean, after all, we could lose a finger, or even an eye), but it was super exciting all the same. My friends and I would purchase fireworks from shops across the Canadian border, where they were legal. Or, more accurately, we would find teenagers with cars and a penchant for mischief; they had quite a racket selling fireworks on the sly to younger kids in the neighborhood.
Part of the fun in creating Firecracker Alley was figuring out which effects would sound firecracker-like. Of course, I had to call for multiple slapsticks, but there are also loud drums, rim shots, whistles, lines in the winds that are reminiscent of bottle rockets, and through it all, fanfare-like brass passages that capture the excitement and joy of setting off firecrackers.