Doug Spata Program Notes

Across the Wind
Composed: 2008; Published: 2013; Key: F Major
Triumphant melodies swoop and soar over bristling ostinatos in this piece, evoking the sensation of flight. The graceful middle section of the piece provides a calm respite before the exhilarating main themes return.
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Agincourt
Composed: 2005; Published: 2007; Key: A Minor: Level 3
Inspired by the climactic battle scene in Shakespeare's Henry V, Agincourt tells a dramatic story of victory over impossible odds.  The driving ostinatos and expressive melodies in this piece are set in an unusual asymmetrical meter, adding a new level of tension and excitement.
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Avatar
Composed: 2004; Published: 2006; Key: E Minor; Level 2
This piece reflects its composer's interest in world mythology, its title referring to the Hindu idea of a single deity appearing in different incarnations. Different sections of the orchestra move at different rhythmic paces, while creating a harmony and continuity as a whole. The tension and interplay between the parts builds right up to the end of this exciting selection!
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Beale Street Strut
Composed: 2010; Published: 2012; Key: G Major; Level 2.5
Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee is famous for its blues clubs and is considered the epicenter of Southern jazz. True to its title, this piece has a jazzy style and broad swagger, full of challenging "blue" notes and syncopated rhythms.
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A Breeze In the Keys
Composed: 2004; Published: 2008; Key: C Major; Level 2.5
Written for the Sizzling Strings, a youth orchestra in Charlotte, North Carolina, A Breeze In the Keys received its world premiere at Sea World in Tampa, Florida.  Pizzicato strings imitate Caribbean steel drums as jubilant melodies dance a sunny calypso. The fun rhythms will have you dancing too!
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Ciao, Italia
Composed: 2012; Published: 2015; Key: C Major; Level 2
Inspired by a journey through central Italy, this piece is like a sunny bike ride through Sienna. Bouncy rhythms and broad, elegant themes bring Mediterranian cheer to your next concert.
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City of Steel
Composed: 2014; Published: 2015; Key: B Minor; Level 3
Brooding melodies rise like mist over dark, churning chords, giving way to a warm, yearning section and returning for a rousing finish.  The lush, romantic sounds and dramatic expression of this piece may remind you of a cinematic mystery or thriller.
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Crusader
Composed: 2000; Published: 2002; Key: A Minor; Level 2
Conjuring images of a muddy, battle-weary soldier, Crusader is a minor-key march for string orchestra. This piece is loosely structured as a theme and variations and each section of the orchestra gets to play the brooding themes.
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Dragonfly
Composed: 2006-2010; Published: 2013; Key: G Minor
16th note runs dart across shifting meters, passing between parts before landing firmly in ¾ time in this exciting selection. As the accompaniment buzzes with intensity, dark themes emerge from the low voices, reaching down to the ‘cello and violas’ C strings, settling into a languid glide, and back again into a furious conclusion.  
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Elementals
Composed: 2003; Published: 2005; Key: F-Sharp Minor; Level 3
Bold accents, broad contrasts, driving crescendos and aggressive rhythms give Elementals its fiery sound. Melodies ebb and flow through the piece, building in intensity throughout this dramatic, challenging concert overture.
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Evening Colors
Composed: 2002; Published: 2004; Key: C Major; Level 2.5
This concert march was inspired by a visit to the Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks in Washington D.C., an impressive performance of music and precision drills.  The piece takes the form of a march, but expands upon the traditional harmonies to create a more poignant musical atmosphere.
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Flambeaux
Composed: 2001; Published: 2003; Key: D Minor; Level 2.5
Inspired by a trip to the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, Flambeaux depicts the torch bearers in the nighttime parades. Special effects like col legno battuo (tapping the strings with the wood of the bow) and tremolo (rapid bowing) create a mysterious and evocative scene.
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Gauntlet
Composed: 1997; Published: 1999; Key: D Minor; Level 2
Thanks to its driving rhythms and dark harmonies, Gauntlet has become a favorite of the school orchestra repertoire. Though the title suggests a Medieval battle or a test of skill, the piece was written without any specific story or imagery in mind. Audiences and musicians have interpreted the dramatic themes and transformations in many different ways.
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Gargoyles
Composed: 1999; Published: 2001; Key: B Minor; Level 2
Composed specifically for young musicians, this piece combines a fast tempo and minor key to create a dramatic sonic atmosphere. Gargoyles is all about contrasts – between quiet and loud, low voices and high, harmony and discord, and staccato and legato styles.
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Goblin Dance
Composed: 1997; Published: 1999; Key: A Minor; Level 2
Violas usually cover the unglamorous middle ground in an orchestral texture, but in Goblin Dance, they take center stage. This dark but jazzy piece lets the viola section shine with syncopated rhythms and sly melodies.
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Harrowland
Composed: 2007; Published: 2012; Key: B Minor; Level 1.5
Harrowland received its world premiere at the 2007 String Day in Bucks County, PA. Like a journey through a mysterious landscape, this fast-paced concert piece features a dark style, leaping melodies, and driving rhythms.
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A Hero's Welcome
Composed: 2007; Published: 2009; Key: F Major; Level 3
Subtitled "Pavane fo String Orchestra," A Hero's Welcome is a poignant and bittersweet selection. The yearning melodies express a mixture of emotions that a 21st century soldier might feel upon returning home from war: joy, comfort, despair, regret, relief, and, ultimately, hope.
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Hot Potato
Composed: 2005; Published: 2007; Key: D Major; Level 1
Melodies pass seamlessly from section to section in this fun musical game! Everyone gets a turn with the themes and the pizzicato accompaniment in this "perpetual motion" piece, showing off how well the orchestra works together.
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Iroquois Journey
Composed: 2013; Published: 2015; Key: A Minor; Level 2
A steady 3/4 rhythm beats under driving melodies in this exciting selection. Each section of the orchestra is featured through the piece's winding path, from its spirited opening theme to its wistful middle section and back again. Iroquois Journey is a vivid adventure that will have you on the edge of your seat! This piece was written for the 2014 Finger Lakes Music Educators Association All-County Elementary Orchestra of Western New York.
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Lemon Twist
Composed: 2002; Published: 2004; Key: C Major; Level 2.5
Lemon Twist was commissioned by the Hightower Trail Middle School Orchestra in Marietta, Georgia, as a gift for director Susan Brown. The piece is an homage to 1950's blues-based rock and roll music from such artists as Chubby Checker and Buddy Holly. It features "blue" notes, hand claps, a "rhumba" bass line, and a sunny, syncopated style indicative of mid-century pop music.
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Maharaja
Composed: 2009; Published: 2011; Key: G Minor; Level 3.5
Maharaja is a Bollywood-style dance with the characteristic flourishes and harmonies of traditional Indian music. Finger snaps and slurred pizzicato imitating tabla drums add to the exotic textures.
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Mambo Incognito
Composed: 2005; Published: 2007; Key: D Minor; Level 2.5
This charming number may start with discreet pizzicato, but it's not long before sly melodies emerge. A passionate Latin style repeatedly threatens to burst forth with jazzy flourishes, but cooler heads prevail and keep things quiet.
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March of the Wood Elves
Composed: 2012; Published: 2014;
A mysterious pizzicato pulse sets the tone in this sly scherzo and shadowy, mishcievious melodies evoke the March of the Wood Elves. Dynamics ebb and flow throughout before the piece builds to its conclusion.
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Las Mariposas Exoticas
Composed: 1998; Published: 2000; Key: A Minor; Level 2
The title of this piece translates as "The Exotic Butterflies" – an apt name for a beautiful and delicate tango. The lilting main melody floats over a pizzicato accompaniment, meant to imitate the strum of an Argentinian guitar.
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North Pole Workshop
Composed: 2009; Published: 2011; Key: D Major; Level 1.5
This cheery polka is just the kind of tune Santa's elves might sing while making toys! This original song may start calm, but it builds to a rowdy finish as the elves hammer away.
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Porcupine Pantomime
Composed: 2007; Published: 2009; Key: D Major; Level 1
Players alternate quickly between pizzicato and arco, raising and lowering their "quills" throughout this fun piece, making it as much fun to watch as it is to hear. The breezy mambo style and light syncopation make this piece hard to forget!
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A Postcard From Tuscany
Composed: 2003; Published: 2005; Key: G Major; Level 1.5
This piece was inspired by a trip to central Italy and evokes the beauty of the region's rolling hills, stucco farmhouses, and expansive farms.  Set in a leisurely 3/4 time, the lyrical melodies and simple accompaniments flow like the landscape out a train window.
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Quicksilver
Composed: 2007; Published: 2009; Key: G Major; Level 2.5
Acrobatic arpeggios leap and bound through the air in this exciting selection.  Featuring an advanced meter and challenging technical demands, Quicksilver is an acrobatic workout for the orchestra.
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Samba Del Sol
Composed: 2010; Published: 2012; Key: D Major; Level 1
This sunny Latin number, played entirely in pizzicato, has fun interlocking melodies and light syncopation. It becomes a dance for the whole orchestra as the melody shifts back and forth between the parts!
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Sea Chantey
Composed: 2001; Published: 2003; Key: D Major; Level 2.5
In the style of a robust sailor song, Sea Chantey uses traditional call-and-response form, wide melodic leaps, and lilting iambic rhythms to invoke the adventure of the high seas. Listen for double stops (playing two notes at the same time) in the 'cello part, mimicking traditional English and Irish fiddle style.
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Shadows of Venice
Composed: 2009; Published: 2011; Key: E Minor; Level: 2
Composed as an homage to Antonio Vivaldi, Shadow of Venice borrows some of the Baroque composer's stylistic flourishes. Most notably is the ritornello form, where soloists spar with each other between repititions of a main theme. The piece is not only a "shadow" of Vivaldi's concertos, but also depicts a chase through the maze-like streets of his native city.
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Sleigh Ride to New Haven
Composed: 2005; Published: 2008; Key: D Major; Level 3
Melodies jump and glide throughout this exciting wintertime selection! Musicians show off their shifting skills with the spirited melodies and bouncy accompaniments. The cheery style is as brisk as a New England winter.
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Sneaking Suspicion
Composed: 2008; Published: 2010; Key: B Minor; Level 1
Using only pizzicato and back-and-forth melodies, this selection is reminiscent of "cartoon tiptoe" music. Listen for dynamic changes as the music passes between the parts of this fun story-song!
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Star of Valor
Composed: 2005; Published: 2010; Key: G Major; Level 3
Commissioned by the Mabry Middle School Orchestra of Marietta, Georgia, Star of Valor is full of heroic melodies and stirring ostinatos.  Melodies collide, transform, and overlap, struggling for dominance in this inspiring selection.
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Storm Trail
Composed: 2008; Published: 2010; Key: G Minor; Level 3
This dramatic concert overture may start quiet, but it builds and surges into powerful melodies and ostinatos. Rhythmic tension shifts throughout the piece, creating an exciting intensity.
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Unbridled
Composed: 2004; Published: 2006; Key: D Major; Level 3
Unbridled is an exciting concert overture that gallops forth in a challenging 12/8 meter. Its heroic themes and driving ostinatos build and ebb, conveying a sense of joy and optimism.
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Violet's Tango
Composed: 2003; Published: 2005; Key: A Minor; Level 2.5
Alternately titled "Violet's Favorite Dance," the Violet in question is one of the main characters in a series of unfortunate childrens' novels (which you'd best not seek out, unless you enjoy tales of woe and misery). Violet could certainly dance a tango if she were forced to do so by an evil Count, and this stylish character piece captures the macabre and sly style of the books.
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Wait Your Turn!
Composed: 2000; Published: 2002; Key: D Major; Level 1
Wait Your Turn! was written for the Sizzling Strings, a youth orchestra in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was designed to help young musicians practice the essential skill of listening to each other while playing. Interlocking parts create a bouncy ostinato and the cheery melodies pass between parts, keeping musicians on their toes!
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Westward Motion
Composed: 2002; Published: 2004; Key: C Major; Level 3
Westward Motion was commissioned by the Mabry Middle School Orchestra of Marietta, Georgia and the opening ostinato of the piece is based on the rhythm of the school's name. This boisterous piece evokes the optimism of America's pioneering spirit, exemplified by westward expansion in the 19th century.
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Winstride
Composed: 2010; Published: 2014
Winstride is a sunny, playful piece, ideal for beginning orchestras. Festive themes give way to a contrasting middle section in a minor key but soon return to the joyful melodies and sparkling accompaniments, bringing the piece to a rousing conclusion.
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Zuma Breakers
Composed: 2012; Published: 2014
Paying tribute to great artists like Dick Dale, The Ventures, and Jan and Dean, Zuma Breakers is an exciting, fast-paced piece in the style of classic 1960’s surf rock. This piece is named for the waves ("breakers") at Zuma Beach, a famous southern California surf spot.
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Zydeco Two-Step
Composed: 2004; Published: 2006; Key: G Major; Level 2.5
Zydeco is a style of music native to New Orleans and the Missisipi delta - a unique mix of styles that includes jazz, French folk songs, and country music. Zydeco Two-Step stays true to the style with country-style fiddling, blues bass lines, and call-and-response style. This fun dance tune has all the flavor of the bayou!
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