The Concerto for Orchestra, a commission from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, was completed on June 13, 1985, in Spencer, West Virginia, where I live in the summer.
A concerto for orchestra by its name tells one that it is intended to be work for symphony orchestra which is virtuoso in character. A concerto for orchestra historically (although there really aren?t that many) features single players or sections in soloistic roles. It also implies a virtuoso work for the orchestra as a whole.
My concerto for orchestra, a work around twenty minutes, features the principal clarinet, the concert-master and the principal French horn in solo cadenzas in the order just mentioned. There are soloistic passages for many of the orchestral instruments, and the work tends to feature a different section of the orchestra in each of the four sections of the work.
The Concerto for Orchestra is, as mentioned above, in four sections played without pause. The first section, which opens with the clarinet cadenza, features the woodwind section. The second movement has been underway only a little while when there is a lyric cadenza for the violin followed by a section which features the strings playing the same material as was contained in the violin cadenza.
The third section of the concerto features the percussion players in a movement that is scherzo-like in character. This section leads abruptly into a French horn cadenza which features the hornist singing and playing simultaneously.
The work contains some unusual features which are products of our time, such as the use of an electric piano, a segment for electronic tape which may also be played on a small synthesizer, and many different mutes for the brass section, which are by-products of my experience in jazz. The string section also plays one section of the music with pencils, and the piano is played through much of the third movement with masking tape across the strings.
Even so, I consider this piece to be in the classical tradition. Motives are introduced and developed. Textures are developed as well. The music is shaped (I hope) along solid dramatic lines, which will enable the listener to stay with my music and find enjoyment in the experience.