Shock & Awe
trombone quartet (3 tenors + 1 bass)
score (9.5 x 13) and parts (9.5 x 13)
In this day and age, it’s relatively rare for a composer to find an opportunity to comment on the world surrounding themselves with their music - one runs the risk of being too topical and having a piece that becomes indelibly linked with a specific event or period of time. I found that opportunity when the Chicago Trombone Quartet asked me to write a piece for them to be performed at the Eastern Trombone Workshop in 2006. The piece, entitled Shock & Awe, doesn’t have any specific program attached to it, but each movement is an abstract look at different aspects of how our country and our government interact. The first movement, “Spin Cycles,” is a reflection of the art of “spin” and “double-speak” that has been a part of our government (and many others) for eons - it reflects these attitudes with the mocking smirk of an editorial cartoon. In addition, this movement could be considered a musical riddle; through the use of quotations, a portrait emerges, though not without comment from the composer. The second movement is described in its title, “Calls & Responses,” and it alternates between solemn chant-like textures from the choir and emotive solos from soloists within the ensemble, culminating with a controlled pandemonium that disappears into the final choral statement. The final movement, “Brave New Worlds,” is indicative of our culture’s never-ending view of the world - that no matter how bad things may seem, the future will bring change and new life. Being an optimist myself, this attitude is one of the most endearing traits of the American culture and one that is hopefully suggested in the third movement and, ultimately, in the entire work.
— Rob Deemer
This program note may be freely reproduced in concert programs, provided that proper credit is given to the composer.