October Overtures
A single-movement divertimento for standard orchestra. An attractive concert-opener especially suited for POPS-style programs, college, community, and professional ensembles, along with their audiences, will enjoy this upbeat, accessible piece, infused with the lilting rhythms and poignant melodies of Celtic traditional music. Originally composed for chamber orchestra and later revised for standard orchestra, the score for October Overtures is available in both versions. A concert band arrangement of the work will be available at a later date. The piece can also be found on the Ligonier Ministries CD, The Alphabet of Revelation.

Duration: 10' 30"
Difficulty: 3/5

Click here to view score.
Voicing/Instrumentation - Orchestral Version
ORCHESTRA

2 Flutes (2nd doubling Piccolo)
2 Oboes (2nd doubling Cor Anglais)
2 Clarinets
2 Bassoons

4 Horns
2 Trumpets
2 Tenor Trombones
1 Bass Trombone
1 Tuba

Timpani

Percussion (2 players):
     Snare Drum
     Gran Cassa
     Tambourine
     Triangle
     Finger Cymbals
     Piatti
     Suspended Cymbals (small, medium, and large)
     Wood Block
     Chimes (Tubular Bells)
     Glockenspiel
     Xylophone
     Vibes
     Marimba

Harp

Piano (doubling Celeste)

Strings
Voicing/Instrumentation - Chamber Orchestra Version
CHAMBER ORCHESTRA

1 Flute (doubling piccolo)
2 Oboes (2nd doubling English horn)
1 Clarinet in B
2 Bassoons
2 Horns in F

Percussion (2-3 players):
     Timpani
     Bass Drum
     Snare Drum
     Suspended Cymbals (small, medium, and large)
     Piatti
     Finger Cymbals
     Tambourine
     Wood Block
     Triangle
     Vibes
     Glockenspiel
     Chimes (Tubular Bells)
     Marimba
     Xylophone

Piano (doubling Celeste)
Strings
Notes
October Overtures was written near the beginning of my career as I was just learning to play that complex and colorful instrument which is the orchestra. A sense of “play” is key to enjoying this work, because it does turn out to be a bit of a romp. As the title suggests, it was composed in the autumn. There’s more than a hint of nostalgia here, since four years earlier, my family and I had moved from the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah, where we had genuine seasons, to southern California, where we effectively did not. In fact, before beginning to write this piece, I felt I needed a change of scenery to evoke the Muse. As October began, I left the record-breaking smog in Los Angeles for the canyons of Utah where, surrounded by the brilliant variety of color in the monumental stillness of that country, I found ideas began to form, patterns to emerge. October Overtures revels in its sources of inspiration and has no deeper ambition than to delight the ear and heart with sound responding to nature.

The work is unabashedly lyrical. An expectant introduction gives way to the opening theme in two parts: a passionate folk dance with Celtic roots, followed by a jaunty clarinet solo. The dance melody is then repeated and brought to a ringing conclusion. After a short bridging passage, a subordinate theme is introduced, scored first for woodwinds and finally dissolving into a poignant section for strings. A forthright motive for horns announces a return to the dance theme, which is concluded with the bell-like music that ended the first section. The development section is made up of several variations on the themes, ending with a resonant chorale. Growing from this, the introductory material appears once more, leading home to the dance theme which concludes the work.
Commission & Performance History
The original chamber orchestra version of October Overtures was premiered on May 19, 1981 at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena by the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra with Robert Kenneth Duerr conducting. The version for standard orchestra was premiered in Torrance, California by the Beach Cities Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jerome Kessler on March 23, 1990. It was revised in 2007 and recorded by the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra with J.A.C. Redford conducting for the Ligonier Ministries CD, The Alphabet of Revelation.
Reviews & Responses
“Tuneful and lyric, . . . a joyful, frank and refreshing work.” (Richard Stiles, Pasadena Star-News, May 21, 1981)

“Slick and handsome, . . . In melodic thrust, orchestral timbres and transparency of textures, it owes most to Copland’s ballet music, admirable models, to be sure.” (Daniel Cariaga, Los Angeles Times, May 23, 1981)