Ballistic Etude 3.0

Commissioned under the auspices of the First University of Michigan Band Commission Prize and premiered under the direction of H. Robert Reynolds
Awarded 'Prix Henri Selmer Paris' in Coups de Vents' International Composition Competition for Wind Ensemble
Featured by the Bayor University Wind Ensemble at the 2009 CBDNA National Conference under the direction of Eric Wilson

Having scoured the mean streets and back alleys of this godforsaken part of town, our hero stumbles on the hideout of the underworld kingpin responsible for kidnapping his gal.  His aim: negotiate her release, hopefully without incident.  He walks in.  Impressed by his moxie, the mob-boss ultimately relents, but only under certain conditions: the man must walk out, unarmed, with his girlfriend following at a distance.  Under no circumstances is he to turn back until he leaves the gang's turf.

It is at this point that our story begins—with the fatal error.  Sensing a setup, our hero panics and grabs the girl’s arm in what will prove a doomed attempt to flee on his own terms.  Stunned, the mob pursues the pair through the nooks and crannies of this dank quarter.  At intervals the fugitives stop to catch their breath only to be spotted again, and the chase is back on.  Eventually the band of thugs gains ground on the frantic, exhausted couple, overtakes them and exacts a horrible vengeance.

The music of Ballistic Etude 3.0 is cast in the form and style of the caccia (It.) or chace (Fr.), 14th century genres commonly associated with the hunt.  Its texture is predominantly lean and sparse, and the ritornelli that announce and later punctuate the movement are particularly athletic—all quick-twitch and heart palpitations.

Though the work is most clearly “ballistic” in the sense of going ballistic and in describing the demands it makes of the ensemble, it also represents a study of flight—of bodies in motion and of escape—as well as an exploration of myth and film noir.  Interestingly, the term has its roots in the Greek word diaballein (to throw across, to hurl, to slander) and the associated diabolus (in musica) familiar to musicians in general and composers in particular.

The work is dedicated to the memory of composer William Albright, a gifted, orphic figure pursued by his own demons.


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