Notes from the Composer
Citadel is my first composition for a large ensemble. This is written for my symphonic band at Wadsworth, Ohio where I played tenor saxophone, written in 1975 when I was a junior in high school. Mom worked on the line at the Akro-Mils plastic molding factory about 30 minutes distant in Kenmore and needed to clock in early. She dropped us off at Wadsworth High School every morning while it was still dark. School didn’t start for long while, so my twin Kevin and I spent every morning in one of the band practice rooms which had a Baldwin upright piano. My twin brother Kevin and I took what we knew from playing instruments in the band, mixed it in with our love of music, and music began to take shape under our hands every morning on those keys.
I was learning scales and jazz chords in my tenor sax lessons with George Mikan; loving it and writing lots of short pieces for friends. “Citadel” was born on that piano out of my love for rich harmony and became a work for band in 1975. The original title was “Sky Towers”, reflecting my abiding love of the sky and the words of Khalil Gibran and J.R.R. Tolkien. The musical influences in Citadel included the quartal chords in Charles Ives’ “Central Park in the Dark”, the long synthesizer tones of Vangelis’ “L’Apocalypse Des Animaux” the rich low brass of Stan Kenton and the climax of William Walton’s “Crown Imperial”. My sweetheart and later fiance, Robin Ford, and brother Kevin helped me to write out the parts.
WHS’s loved and respected band director, Art Baldwin (who we called “Sarge”) saw the score and offered to try it out with the band. Sarge allowed me to take the podium and was impressed that I could easily identify and correct wrong notes resulting from the parts’ notation errors.
Hearing my beloved chords, and getting Sarge’s support opened a door that allowed me to clearly see a path in my life. I wanted to compose concert music.
With its youthful harmonies and simple melodies, Citadel is a model example of an early composition from an optimistic young lad of 17 in the mid 1970’s who loved classical music, big band jazz, J.R.R Tolkien, science fiction and astronomy.
(original score/last page/top)
I notated Citadel into Sibelius for a possible premiere in 2011 from my original pencil and paper score. I decided then to not improve the work so to keep its original youthful spirit and left in its weaknesses. In two places I changed the meter to reflect the rhythms that I had originally played on the piano but was unable to notate correctly back in ’75. After notating the piece into the computer with Sibelius for a clean presentation and parts, I exported a MIDI file from it to Logic. From there, I assigned various virtual instruments from the Logic using Kontakt 4 sample libraries and corrected volumes and velocities. Please excuse the poor samples and mechanical rhythms of this fake rendering!
The 2011 performance never happened. It was to be performed by a community band who’s trumpet section had a hard time with the open high A.