As the Bell Tolls
When Brandon Deike, the band director of Forest Area Schools, asked me to write a piece for his ensemble, I immediately asked him,
"What do you want the piece to focus on?"
He shared with me his story of how the band program at Forest Area went from 0-100 in about 7 years' time. Throughout that entire journey, the school bell was ever-present: a three-note motive on the pitch of an A-flat with a very distinct rhythm. This tone was there at the beginning, and still tolls as the band program's growth continues.
As the Bell Tolls is centered around this three-note motive. Using the mallet percussion to "emulate" the tone of the original bell, the motive eventually carries into the rest of the ensemble and is present throughout the piece, even to the point of a tutti unison in the middle section. Using a mixture of an original A-theme and the school's fight song for the minor, B-theme, I wanted to bring together the newness of the music, and the tradition of the school's history.
Ultimately, this piece was an honor to write. I'm grateful to be part of Forest Area School's band program journey, and I cannot wait to see what accomplishments the band will find in the years to come.
As the Bell Tolls is set to premiere in 2021. (Originally May 2020, pushed back due to COVID-19).