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Curtain Call (grade 3)

Curtain Call was commissioned by Kevin Kardel and the Joseph F. Plouffe Academy Bands (Brockton, MA) in loving memory of Robert Ferrante, who passed away in 2015 from cancer. Mr. Ferrante was a band director in the Brockton schools for 22 years and was, by all accounts, a charismatic, witty, and inspirational person who was beloved by all. He was a musician of the highest order, who loved conducting his bands in Brockton (especially Broadway medleys), performing regularly as a horn player in numerous regional orchestras, singing in his church choir, and serving as the drummer for the well-known Boston area band, Dale and the Duds. Mr. Ferrante was also a devoted husband; he and his wife, Martina (herself a music professor at Bridgewater State University) were married for 39 years. She also, unfortunately, passed away from cancer in October 2018. 

As I considered how to honor such a wonderfully active person, I was struck by the diversity of Mr. Ferrante’s musical life and I wanted to somehow reflect that in the final piece. First and foremost, the piece needed to be energetic and positive, reflecting the joy that he brought to every aspect of his life. Second, the piece needed to honor the three performing aspects of his life. Therefore, much of the melodic material features the horns in both heroic and lyrical passages (the horns are even asked to stand at the end of the work); the return of the second theme asks many of the performers to sing; and the ending of the work calls for two percussionists to play suspended cymbals in the hall, creating a surround sound drum set. Third, the piece needed to honor Mr. Ferrante’s love for Broadway medleys. I attempted to accomplish this through the nature of the musical material, especially in the second theme, which is suggestive of a Broadway love theme (and, in this case, a love theme for Mr. and Mrs. Ferrante). Fourth, the piece needed to include some aspect of the popular music that was such a big part of his life. I accomplished this through the I-vi-ii-V chord progression that underlies the second theme. Fifth, the basic pitch material for the work needed to relate directly in some way, so the melody for the opening theme is actually a musical cryptogram, in which musical note names are assigned to the letters of the alphabet, and, in this case, musically spelling FERRANTE.  Finally, the title for the work also relates to Mr. Ferrante’s love of musical theater, as a curtain call represents the final bow at the end of a wonderful performance, during which we, the audience, have one last chance for a grateful thank you.

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