Sound Post / January 2020

All Things Majestic

By Jennifer Higdon

A Note from Concertmaster Holly

How does one describe a mountain range in music? Composer Jennifer Higdon took a hike through the Grand Teton National Park’s back country several years ago to find inspiration for a musical portrait. Her use of percussion and harp complemented by strings and punctuated by brass conjure up dramatic phrases. You can listen to small details and step back and hear big phrases in her work All Things Majestic, just as you would look at small details and big mountains in the Grand Teton Range.

The movement titled Cathedrals represents the mountain groupings of the Tetons' tallest peaks. Much like a human built cathedral, the grandeur and majesty is caught in the angles and size.

We’ve picked this work to complement Wichita Symphony’s performance of New World Symphony by Dvořák since both pieces are describing places these composers explored.

Questions for thought as you listen:

  1. The opening few notes are created with percussion bells, chimes, and harp. What do you think that sound represents?
  2. In the middle of this movement, there is an intimate small ensemble of strings mixed with oboe. Did the sound contrast to the louder parts make it more special?

Leave us your comments

There are no wrong responses, just perspectives that are uniquely yours!

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