The Athens Concerto (2016)

Concerto Grosso for Wind Ensemble with Solo Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Trombone, Piano, and Percussion (with assistant)

Wind Ensemble Instrumentation: Picc, Fl. (2), Ob. (2), Bsn. (2), Cl. (6), B.Cl., Alt. Sax (2), T. Sax, B. Sax, Tpts (3), Horns (4), T-bones (3), Euph, Tuba, Timp. Perc. (3), Contrabass (opt.)

Order from Murphy Music Press

Program Note:

The Athens Concerto was written to feature the performers of the MOD[ular] Ensemble with the University of Georgia Wind Symphony in a concerto grosso. The MOD[ular] ensemble has a unique instrumentation, and I crafted each part with a distinct character. From the clarinet comes both a piercing soprano voice and a warm lyricism, while the saxophone delivers an impassioned cantabile and sets the ensemble ablaze with its virtuosic technique. The trombone often brings a powerful pesante and shatters the tonality through its pitch-bending glissandi. I focused the percussion part on the timpani and marimba, the latter of which provides both a mysterious sustained accompaniment and a scintillating solo at break-neck speed. I showcase the piano through thunderous chords, continuous driving accompanimental figures, and pensive adagio moments. The wind symphony is spotlighted through sonorous ritornellos and also provides a resonant accompaniment for the soloists. The piece begins with an introduction inspired by Baroque French overture that contrasts dramatic dotted rhythm fanfares with ambient imitative counterpoint. These opposing ideas are then distilled into the themes of a sonata-form movement. The first is an angular and syncopated melody, which is, after the overture, stated emphatically by the soloists in unison. The second theme is characterized by melodic lines that descend further and further after returning to an initial high point, and is first heard in the solo clarinet over rolling marimba harmony. The interplay and variation of these themes generates the form of the piece.

Commissioned by:

The University of Georgia Wind Symphony, Jaclyn Hartenberger, Director

The MOD[ular] Ensemble: Timothy K. Adams, percussion,  Josh Bynum, trombone, Connie Frigo, saxophone, Heather Gozdan-Bynum, clarinet, and Greg Hankins, piano


California State Polytechnic University Wind Ensemble, Rickey H. Badua, Director

Mercer University Wind Ensemble, Douglas Hill, Director

Truman State University Wind Ensemble, Curran Prendergast, Director

University of Illinois at Chicago Wind Ensemble, José Riojas, Director of Bands, Brenna Curtis, Conductor

University of North Texas Wind Ensemble, Nicholas Enrico Williams, Director

University of West Georgia Wind Ensemble,  Josh Byrd, Director