for full orchestra
2+Picc, 2, 2+Bass, 2- 4, 4 (C), 2+Bass, 1- Timp, 3 Perc- Hp, Strings
Score and parts available upon request from the composer.
It was July 1978. I was five years old and my parents had taken me to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra’s outdoor performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique.” During the performance, a violent thunderstorm erupted. The full force of the orchestra, punctuated by thunder and lightning, made me feel like I was surrounded by golden pillars of sound. That was the moment I first sensed that making music would be a defining element in my life.
In composing Solis, I was brought back to this early formative experience. The colors of the orchestra in Solis brought me back to the golden pillars of sound that so transfixed me in my childhood. The title Solis refers to the golden sun-like brilliance communicated in the work’s climax. The word solace, which is derived from the Latin word solis, also has a place in this piece’s emotional landscape.
Structurally, Solis is a tone poem based on a poignant opening melody, heard first in the solo trumpet against a gentle backdrop of strings. This melody is then expanded upon by the rest of the orchestra and is full of shifting orchestral colors and moods, leading up to a percussive climax in the first half that is punctuated by the timpani. This point of arrival paves the way for a proud and energetic second theme played by the strings and the clarinet. The rest of the orchestra then carries this new theme in a short, contrapuntal dance section. Upon returning to the original melodic material, the piece gradually builds to a triumphant climax in which the opening melody returns in full force, played now by the entire orchestra.
Solis was commissioned by the University of Nevada Symphony Orchestra led by Dr. Jason Altieri, who also gave the piece its premiere in November of 2015.