Overture: A Little Travelin' Music

(The Can Opener)

Sydney Hodkinson

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Quick Overview

This is a ?traffic? piece, and is the result of a commission for a ?popular? work to celebrate the completion of a major $125 million dollar ?CAN of WORMS? highway construction project in Rochester, New York. Accordingly, the work is noisy ebullient, fast and hopefully FUN for all concerned.

There are two primary melodic strains: the first is a simple tune in duple time; the second, in compound time, is a more sedate, but swinging, waltz-like line. Two secondary figurations play a ?binding? role, both based on the interval of the minor third (CAn): one cartoon-like (first heard in muted Brass, later in string pizzicati), the other as an introductory fanfare. As the work progresses, the themes tend to pile in on top of each other (bumper-to-bumper?). All of these elements are poured, like wet concrete, into a modified, yet very ?classical,? Sonata-Rondo design with an added pompous Introduction and a boisterous Coda. The CAn?s minor third also permeates the harmony and, while the piece is blatantly tonal ? the main themes occur in F, D, and A( Majors with a recapitulation in B ? the harmonic shifts are sometimes abrupt, not unlike bumps in the roadway. The CAn minor third serves throughout as a CANtus; auditors into bad puns will groan to learn that there are a few mini-CANons (some in CANcrizans: backwards), the waltz-like CANtilena is marked CANtabile; but instead of the obvious CAN-CAN, there evolved a pseudo-CongA (probably suggestive of long lines of traffic), and all of this written by a CANadian. Enough!

The overture makes considerable demands on the virtuosity of both the individual orchestra members and the total symphonic ensemble. This seemed the most efficacious way to give the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra a gift: to pay homage to my ?home-town-band?; to honor an organization I greatly respect, one that has given me much musical pleasure for the past 18 years. Also, I wished to thank the generous musical community of Rochester, New York, at large: in short, to give everyone a few ?jollies? on their journey.

"A Little Travelin? Music (The Can Opener)" was commissioned by the Citizens for a Quality Philharmonic with funds provided by a widely-divergent consortium of forces form the community in which I live. Approximately 8 minutes in duration, the work is scored for woodwinds in pairs, including piccolo and E-flat clarinet, eleven brass, timpani, a large battery of roughly forty percussion instruments (including some ?fender-benders? and ?pot-holes?: anvils, boing box, claves, cow-bells, klaxons, police whistle, sirens, taxi horns, vibra-slap, whip, etc.), harp and strings. The composition was composed during the last two weeks of December 1990 in Ormond Florida, and the orchestration completed in Fairport, N.Y. in April of 1991. The score is dedicated to the members of the RPO and the first performance was given by that organization on September 27 and 28, 1991, Peter Bay conducting. BON VOYAGE!

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Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the Citizens for a Quality Philharmonic.
Composition Date 1990-91
Duration 00:08:30
Orchestration 2(Picc.) 2 2(EbCl.) 2 - 4 3(in C) 3(B.Tbn.) 1; Timp. 4Perc. Hp. Str. (2Cb. with low C ext.)
Premiere September 27th, 1991. Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Peter Bay.

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