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Cape Elizabeth Sketches (grade 4)

Cape Elizabeth Sketches was commissioned by Thomas Lizotte and the Cape Elizabeth High School Band and premiered by that ensemble on May 12, 2011. The piece is comprised of four short character sketches of famous residents of this small, coastal town in Maine.

The first sketch, John Huston, celebrates the career of the noted film director and screenwriter for many of the most famous motion pictures of the 1940s and 1950s. Among these was The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, so this movement takes its inspiration from the music of Hollywood Westerns, using the two open 5ths that comprise the work’s pitch set to create a Copland-esque quality.

The second sketch, Bette Davis, delves into the short, stormy, tumultuous period in which the famed actress lived in Cape Elizabeth with Gary Merrill. The movement presents the material for the piece using the dark, unsettled nature of a film noir score.

The third sketch, Anne Burke, reflects upon the least known of the four characters in the piece. Ms. Burke served for over 70 years as a postal worker for the town, beginning in 1941. She was a kind, gentle soul and the music for this movement is reflective of that. Interestingly, I began work on the piece with her movement and these ideas generated each of the other movements, as I felt that Ms. Burke was the true heart and soul of the town.

The final sketch, Joan Benoit Samuelson, celebrates the famed Olympic marathon runner and Cape Elizabeth native. The music here has energy and a constant motor impulse, but with a certain sense of minimalism. It is ever-changing but mostly the same, intended to reflect the life of a long-distance runner.

The pitch material for the piece is derived from the names of the four characters in order: F (for Ford), D (for Davis), Bb (for Burke), and Eb (bEnoit Samuelson). I chose E because B had already been used, and that in combination with the S creates the German Es, or E flat. Each movement is in the key that corresponds with that character’s name/note, and the basic melodic and harmonic material is derived from these same four notes as well.

Cape Elizabeth Sketches - I
00:00 / 01:56
Cape Elizabeth Sketches - II
00:00 / 03:15
Cape Elizabeth Sketches - III
00:00 / 02:55
Cape Elizabeth Sketches - IV
00:00 / 02:27
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