for wind ensemble
Casteel High School Symphonic Band
Drew Eary, conductor
Casteel High School Performing Arts Center
9/26/17, 7pm | Queen Creek, AZ
Orange County School of the Arts Symphonic Band
Jeffrey de Seriere, conductor
12/15/17, 7:30pm | Santa Ana, CA
When I stumbled upon the term Great Unconformity at a lookout point on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, I knew immediately that it needed to be the title for this piece. While an unconformity technically describes a gap in time of several hundred million years between rock strata, Great Unconformity is more broadly inspired by (1) the beauty and diversity of the American West and (2) the concert band as a metaphor for this beauty and diversity.
The landscapes of the West are both incredibly scenic and hostile, and the communities which have formed out of this shared confrontation with survival are remarkably diverse. The popular 20th-century view of the American West, inextricably linked to the cinematic Western, is of a place filled with conflict and hostility, where different kinds of people are constantly clashing in their pursuit of resources. By contrast, I view the unified variety (or, unconformity) of coexisting peoples and landscapes as the defining characteristic of the contemporary West.
The concert band, with its many types of instruments and sounds, is an especially apt metaphor for community and the value that comes from different kinds of people coming together to work towards a common goal. A band is not just a sound making machine; crucially, it is a diverse group of individual people who have banded together to make music. In one sense, musicians in a concert band need to be independent nonconformists who can play their parts by themselves, but in another sense they must conform to the tempo and mood and volume of the rest of the group in order for the musical outcome to be coherent and meaningful. Thus, a great band must be full of (un)conformists.