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a composer with a story to tell

a composer with a story to tell

Forging Steel

The commissioner has exclusive commercial recording rights until 6/9/25.

There are two versions:
Quadruple winds: 4444 4441 harp, piano, timpani, 3 perc, strings
Triple winds: 3333 4331 harp, piano, timpani, 3 perc, strings

I. Blast Furnace (excerpt)
II. Billets and Blooms (excerpt)

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; Manfred Honeck, conductor. Used by permission.



Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Theodore Presser Company (quadruple winds/brass) (triple winds/brass)
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The steelmaking process fascinates and dazzles me! Think of it – skyscrapers, bridges, airplanes, cars, kitchen appliances, door hinges, even paper clips and staples all began as a white-hot molten mass of metal. This is a material that touches virtually every aspect of our daily lives.
Forging Steel portrays two key components of the steelmaking process. In Blast Furnace (movement 1), raw iron ore, coke (crushed coal that’s been cooked), and limestone are combined in a large furnace. These materials are blasted by columns of hot pressurized air, which react with the coke and raise the temperature inside the furnace. When the temperature reaches approximately 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the combined materials melt into liquid iron and slag (waste matter). The slag is skimmed off, and the iron gushes into a tank that carries it to the next phase, where the molten iron will be refined into molten steel. To musically represent the happenings inside the blast furnace, I start the piece with a series of loud, chaotic chords that represent the blasts of hot air. Over the course of the movement, patterns emerge from these blast chords as the materials mix and melt. As the movement ends, we hear the gushing of the molten iron out of the furnace as it heads into the next step of the steelmaking process.
Billets and Blooms (movement 2) picks up much later in the process, after the molten iron has been refined into steel, cast into long molds, and cut into blocks. These blocks are formed into various dimensions, including billets (long and square) and blooms (short, thick, and rectangular). As the blocks move along a long conveyor belt, they are stretched and shaped into very long, thin strips of metal which are rolled up, cooled off, and await shipping to customers. In this movement, we hear three main musical ideas. The first is a series of chords played by the brass section at the opening of the movement; these represent the new steel. The chord progression grows longer and louder over the course of the movement, depicting the stretching and shaping of the steel. The second idea is a repeated note played almost continuously, most often by the marimba and piano; this represents the conveyor belt that keeps the steel moving through its final stages of production. Finally, scattered throughout the movement, we will hear the percussion section playing an assortment of instruments made of metal and wood, evoking the sonic atmosphere of a steelmaking plant.
  • HELIOS • 4’30” • 2 tpts/flugelhorns, hn, tbn, tba

    In Greek mythology, Helios was the god of the sun. His head wreathed in light, he daily drove a chariot drawn by four horses (in some tales, the horses are winged; in others, they are made of fire) across the sky. At the end of each day’s journey, he slept in a golden boat that carried him on the Okeanos River (a fresh water stream that encircled the flat earth) back to his rising place. The cyclic journey of Helios is depicted in this short work for brass quintet. The first half is fast-paced and very energetic, while the second half is slow and serene, representing day and night.