Thunder On The Bay (1998)

Thunder On The Bay for percussion ensemble

My first commission, "Thunder On The Bay" was written at the request of illustrious oboist Heather (Sweet) Laurila. She was in her first year out of doctoral work and was temporarily teaching general music in her hometown of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. She was trying to have some fun teaching her 7th-graders about rhythm, and had the idea of a percussion ensemble, comprised of multiple simple layers of rhythm, that could be performed by a large number of students. The work I delivered gets its name from the town and the sound of the music, which (when performed by 40-50 people!) can be quite thunderous. One "leader" keeps a steady beat, while categories of instruments - shaker, metallic, wooden, "skins" - each play their respective rhythms during open-ended vamps. While each rhythm IS simple in its construction, the overall effect is one of syncopated complexity, making for a piece that young players should enjoy performing while still creating a compelling experience for the audience.

(Available from C. Alan Publications)