My Tuba Concerto was requested by and is dedicated to Winston Morris, who premiered the work brilliantly at the University of Virginia in the Spring of 1973.
As a brass performer myself, I knew there were only a few works which featured the tuba as a solo instrument, and many of them fit the "cute" category. I decided to write a concerto for tuba and band that was serious, two-fisted, and no-nonsense. something that did not present the tuba in a comic manner, but something that would make the audience sit up and think of the tuba as a major solo instrument.
The Tuba Concerto is 13 minutes in length and written in three movements each in ABA form. The first movement entitled "Overture" is energetic, and might be described as a series of fanfares and interludes. The second movement, "Berceuse," is a cradlesong. The quiet, rocking accompaniment in the ensemble at the opening of this movement sets the relaxed mood. The middle section has a slightly faster movement, with the saxophone quartet in dialogue with the solo tuba. After a short introduction, the last movement returns to the energy level of the first, altered only by a brief, slower B section. Throughout the concerto, the percussion section plays an important role behind the solo providing rhythmic and coloristic accompanimental patterns. In fact, the percussion group forms a third contrasting unit to the solo tuba and the concert band, making the Tuba Concerto different from the traditional concerto which contrasts only two instrumental units--the solo instrument and the ensemble.
The work is intended to display the virtuosic ability of the tuba soloist, but the band parts are of a difficulty suitable for a good collegiate concert band. No unusual instruments are required beyond what would be available to any full band.
Tuba Concerto has been recorded by Harvey Phillips, tuba soloist, and the Cornell Wind Ensemble, conducted by Maurice Stith on CORNELL WIND ENSEMBLE SERIES: CWES-17.
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