Diversions is my first purely orchestral work; as its title suggests, I aimed to write a piece that was entertaining and lighthearted in character. Accordingly, it roughly models any number of 19th century concert overtures, falling into three sections and an overall formal scheme of ABA.
The principle motive of Diversions is a four-note figure that is derived from the main melody of the work, a tune that is heard in full only towards the end of the piece. The inaugural section of Diversions features a series of fanfares that are followed by two tutti orchestral statements of this four-note cell. The tutti statements themselves frame a series of antiphonal dialogues between various sections of the orchestra that are based on the four-note figure. A transitional section follows the second tutti outburst and elides into the slow middle section of the work, which features extended solos for English horn, oboe, and trumpet. The concluding section, marked Allegro vivo, is essentially a set of variations on the four-note cell, beginning with a gentle, lapping gesture and culminating in the grand, triumphant statement of the aforementioned tune.
A word about the dedication: Diversions is dedicated to Andrew Johnston, the son of long-time family friends, Jim and Lisa Johnston. Between 2001 and 2003, I dedicated three short pieces to each of Andrew’s older sisters (Claire, Julia, and Sarah). When Andrew was born in 2004, his father requested that any piece I write for Andrew be suitably big and loud, “preferably with anvils.” Alas, I couldn’t bring myself to include an anvil in the scoring for Diversions, though I trust a log drum and some tom-toms will suffice.
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