October began at a restaurant in Chicago, when I was first introduced to Brian Anderson. Brian, a high school band director from Fremont, Nebraska, knew my work and wanted to commission me, but couldn’t find the finances. If I remember correctly I didn’t immediately hear back from him, and I just assumed the gig would never materialize.
About a year later I get this phone call from him and he says that he has put together a commissioning consortium of 30 high school bands from Nebraska. 30 bands! I’ve dealt with institutional bureaucracy for a while now and I can’t possibly imagine how he brought all of those people together, let alone get them to agree on a commission.
Writing a ‘grade three’ work was an entirely different challenge. It’s easy to write your way out of a difficult corner with flashy, virtuosic material, but with ‘easier’ music your solutions must be simple, elegant, and functional. I worked hard to create a piece that could be successfully performed by all of the high schools in the consortium, yet never compromised its musical integrity. Frankly, writing ‘easy’ music is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
October is my favorite month. Something about the crisp autumn air and the subtle change in light always makes me a little sentimental, and as I started to sketch I felt that same quiet beauty in the writing. The simple, pastoral melodies and subsequent harmonies are inspired by the great English Romantics (Vaughn Williams, Elgar) as I felt that this style was also perfectly suited to capture the natural and pastoral soul of the season.
I’m quite happy with the end result, especially because I feel there just isn’t enough lush, beautiful music written for winds. October was premiered on May 14th, 2000, and is dedicated to Brian Anderson, the man who brought it all together.