Concerto for Trombone and Wind Symphony (inspired by John Steinbeck's "The Pearl") (grade 6)
Almost from the moment I first met Nic Orovich in 1998, he was asking me if I would write a piece of music for him. I was flattered, both by the fact that he liked my music so much and by the fact that such an enormously talented musician would want me to compose a work for him. Unfortunately, the competing schedules of my duties at UNH, my family, and previous composition commitments kept me from pursuing the work.
Over the years we became good friends and Nic never gave up on the idea of having me compose an original work for trombone. Finally, in the fall of 2004, the opportunity presented itself. I found myself on my first sabbatical and decided to use that chance to compose something for both Nic and my own ensemble at UNH.
The resultant work was completed on December 23, 2004 and was inspired by John Steinbeck’s classic novella, The Pearl. This powerful story and its musical references always seemed to me to be ideal inspiration for a possible musical setting. When I began work on the piece in earnest, I re-read the story and tried to structure a piece that would reflect the story generally (and at times specifically), while maintaining integrity as a piece of music.
The story concerns a young pearl fisherman named Kino, his wife Juanita, and their son Coyotito. At the beginning of the story, Kino awakens to a new day, appreciating all the beauty that is present in his simple existence. Soon, though, his happiness is shattered when his son is stung by a scorpion. Kino walks into town in search of the doctor, but finds the doctor unwilling to help because Kino cannot afford the necessary fee. In desperation, he begins to search for, and eventually discovers, an enormous pearl. The pearl, however, becomes a symbol for greed and, eventually, this leads to the destruction of everything that Kino truly loves. Kino’s family is attacked in the night and Kino himself begins to change because of his own avarice. Finally, he and his family set off to sell the pearl in the city and they are followed into the mountains by those who would steal the valuable gem. During the ensuing battle, it is the innocent Coyotito who is killed by a stray bullet. The story concludes with the stunned and grieving parents, Kino and Juanita, slowly returning to town and throwing the pearl back to the sea, burying that which has shattered their lives.
The Concerto for Trombone and Wind Symphony was composed for, and is dedicated to, my friend Nic Orovich and the wonderful musicians of the University of New Hampshire Wind Symphony.