Elegy-Field of Blood (download)
This piece was originally composed for full orchestra as the sixth and final movement of my own second symphony "Double Cross" which musically chronicles the life and death of a man whose name has become synonymous with betrayal: Judas Iscariot. In the book of Matthew, chapter 27:1-10, Judas returns the blood money and hangs himself; the chief priests used the money and bought the Potter's field which became known as the Field of Blood, a burial place for strangers. This elegy for Judas is the haunting memoir of a traitor.
Elegy is a piece just shy of seven minutes whose challenge is not in technical facility but rather in musical nuance. It gives many instruments opportunities to shine individually and in chamber-like settings, and it also challenges players to listen to the musical interactions in the fuller sections. Several specialty instruments are marked ad. lib., such as Eb clarinet, English horn, contrabassoon, double bass, and while they are optional, they sometimes do have prominent parts (especially English horn), but all optional instruments are either doubled or marked for cues when featured [NOTE: For ease of score reading, cues are not written out in the score; they are only cited on the appropriate lines]. So their presence is useful, but their absence is not prohibitive. Also, the score calls for some challenging ranges in the first horn, first bassoon and first/second trombones. These passages are marked with optional 8vb's, and the first bassoon and trombone have the opportunity to play a short passage in tenor clef. The timpani part includes suggested drum tunings, and it gives ample time and direction for the few pitch changes are required. The vibraphone part (Perc. 1) does employ four-mallet technique in places, but if this is not feasible (this would be a good piece in which to start learning it), the score specifies that Perc. 1 may be played on a piano instead. Percussion 3 calls for crotales, but in their absence, the glockenspiel may be used, and Perc. 3 already has that. The optional double bass part makes use of notes requiring a C extension, but it also gives optional small notes an octave higher in case the bassist has no C extension (which is likely). So in all, this piece offers plenty of challenges, but it also comes with optional escapes to help make it more accessible to more bands.
Elegy-Field of Blood will challenge the musicality of good high school and college bands while still being a respectable member of professional repertoire. Its major performance challenges can be circumvented without terribly compromising the musicality, but they are available for maximum musical impact.