2013 Global Music Awards – Silver Medal – Originality & Creativity
2014 American Prize – Semi-Finalist – Chamber Music Division
World premiere 08/13/2013 NFA Conference New Orleans, LA
When Rhondda Dayton and Mary Predmore of Pipe Dream Flutes & Friends first contacted me in August 2012 about commissioning a piece for flute quintet, I was very interested and intrigued by the instrumentation and extremely excited, having never composed for flute ensemble before. When they told me the piece needed to be in the “New Orleans” style, that excitement quickly turned to anxiety and trepidation. What was I supposed to write that captured the style, flavor, and vibe of New Orleans with five flutes?! When thinking about the music of New Orleans I hear second line marching brass bands featuring trumpets, trombones, and sousaphones, I hear Dixieland bands with squealing clarinets and fiery drums, and of course, I think of Louis Armstrong. After about four weeks of research, writing, more research, more writing, rewriting, experimentation, and procrastination I finally came up with: The Quarter – for Flute Quintet.
The Quarter, referencing The French Quarter in New Orleans, is designed to bring the energy and life of that region to any venue in which it is performed. While rehearsing, be sure to work on the triplet feel. The music should groove and not feel “square”. Be sure to take careful consideration to the syncopated rhythms and articulations. At whatever tempo your ensemble can perform the piece, be sure not to drag! Dragging the tempo will cause the piece to lack energy. There are a few measures for flute 1, flute 2, and alto flute that indicate “x” notation and “t” or “ts” ala hi-hat. These notes represent a drummer’s hi-hat cymbals clamping together on beats two and four. While researching the internet I found a few YouTube videos where this extended technique was explained and produced. I am leaving it up to the performer to decide whether to use the “t” or “ts” technique as written, to just play the “x” notation as normal notes (and as staccato as possible), or if your ensemble is using a drummer, to eliminate them completely. I personally think that they add a fun color to the music. The contrabass part and drum set part are completely optional. The contrabass doubles the bass flute 8vb. If you do have a performer playing the drum set, be sure that they are sensitive to the music and are not overpowering. The last thing I can say about this piece is to have fun! Have fun rehearsing, practicing, and performing and I hope it will bring you as much joy as it did myself while writing it.
––Danny Ursetti (July 14, 2013)