The March of Tim(e) (Grade 5)
Sometimes as a composer you receive the unexpected opportunity to write music that is intended to recognize and thank someone who is important in your life, and projects of this nature quickly become special and very personal. I received just such an opportunity when Steven Amundsen contacted me, asking if I might like to write a short work to honor Tim Mahr’s 25th year at St. Olaf and 20th year as music director of the Minnesota Symphonic Winds. It was simply an opportunity that I couldn’t refuse and I am thankful to have been included as part of this wonderful celebration. Everyone whose life has been touched by Tim will agree with me that they are much the better for it, and his influence, both musical and personal, has shaped all of our lives. Personally, I continue to be thankful that Tim returned to the University of Iowa for his DMA at just the right time, and that I, as a young freshman music major, was able to get to know him. He became a mentor and a role model for me and has been a close and valued friend for the last thirty years (!). The world is a much better place because of Timothy Mahr and the opportunity to write this piece allowed me to attempt to honor all that he has given to me. Hopefully I have given him something worthy!
Although the resultant piece follows most of the traditions and form of a typical American march, there are many additional elements that are woven into the texture. First, the basic concept for the march is inspired by a play on words that was initially suggested by those involved with the commission….”Tim Mahr” becomes “Time March.” That initial concept led to many of the rhythmic ideas that involve sudden alternations between 6/8 and 4/4 meters.
The basic melodic and structural material for the march is derived from a musical cryptogram of Tim’s last name. By assigning the letters of the alphabet to the notes in the musical scale, MAHR becomes FAAD. I maintained this idea, but changed the notes to F Ab Ab Db and transposed it, and this four note melodic motive becomes the basis for both the opening melody and the trio melody, as well as the outline for the key areas of the work (D F F Bb). Additionally, the trio melody is introduced by the trombones, Tim’s instrument, and the initial presentation of the melody is by the piccolo, a reference intended to honor Tim’s wonderful wife, Jill.
Finally, I chose to follow Tim’s example by incorporating some hidden elements into the work. Many years ago, Tim wrote A Mighty March, a wonderful work that was composed in honor of his mentor and teacher, Miles Johnson. Within that march, he incorporated references to several of Mity’s favorite works for band. Honoring that tradition, I have embedded references to several of Tim’s best known works within the trio section to this march, including Fantasia in G, Endurance, The Soaring Hawk, Sol Solator, Hey!, Imagine if you Will, and A Mighty March.
The March of Tim(e) was commissioned by the Minnesota Symphonic Winds in honor of Timothy Mahr’s 25th anniversary as conductor of the St. Olaf Band and his 20th anniversary leading the Minnesota Symphonic Winds.