Alyeska: The Great Land
(wind ensemble, opt. vocal solo) 9'00"
An expansive portrayal capturing the magnitude of the Alaskan land, history, and peoples. (Level/Grade 5)
Listen (mp3, 12.2 mb; Minnesota Symphonic Winds, Tim Mahr conducting)
Full Score: $25 Add to Cart
Set of Parts: $130 Add to Cart
Set of Parts (set of masters for you to copy): $100 Add to Cart
Composer's Program Notes:
I am honored to have this opportunity to create a new work for the Minnesota Symphonic Winds 2006 concert tour to Alaska. It was suggested that I incorporate the state song Alaska's Flag within the composition, and, after visiting the state and realizing the fondness many Alaskans feel for their song, I chose to use both the text and tune to begin the work. The melody returns again toward the end, arranged for the full ensemble. The title I have chosen for the composition employs the earlier form of the name given the area centuries ago by the Aleutians, one of the state's ten nations of indigenous peoples, and it means simply "the great land."
The work is in one continuous movement but contains three distinct sections, following the statement of Alaska's Flag. These sections may be viewed as chronological, although the music is never intended to depict or respond to any specific historical event. The first section grew out of my understanding of the fascinating history of the land, wildlife, and the people of "the great land," from the very ancient past when the fantastic and monumental geographical formations were created over eons, to the appearance of the first humans in the area anywhere from twelve to forty thousand years ago. The music is a "birthing" of this wide expanse of land and history.
A foreboding figure in the low woodwinds introduces the second section, which builds in intensity to eventually include the entire band in energetic outbursts. This is music of survival, adventure, conquest, discovery--all themes which figured prominently over the centuries before statehood in 1959 and with which many Alaskans continue to grapple.
The melody of the state song reappears in the third section, first serenely and tentatively, then building to a grandiose celebration of statehood and hope for the future, as Alaska continues to develop its vast potential of human and other resources. An extended coda brings the composition to a close with an intentional avoidance of finality and resolution, as Alaskans will continue to face many challenges in the coming years, the most imminent being those brought on by global climate change.
Thanks again to Tim Mahr, the Minnesota Symphonic Winds, and band members Gary and Claire Nelson for commissioning this project.
Alaska's Flag is used by generous permission of the copyright holder, the University of Alaska. Music and Verse 1 copyright 1960. Verse 2 copyright 1986. Music by Elinor Dusenbury. Verse 1 by Marie Drake. Verse 2 by Carol Beery Davis.