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SPIRES for Wind Ensemble by Frederick Speck (USA, 1955)

[#164] September 12, 2022 2022 | Wind Ensemble | Grade 5 | 5’-10’ | Tone Poem

American composer and conductor Frederick Speck

SPIRES, for Wind Ensemble, by American composer and conductor Frederick Speck is our Composition of the Week.

The world premiere was presented on July 18, 2022 in Comstock Hall at the University of Louisville with Dr. Amy Acklin conducting. This performance was followed with the European premiere in Žofín Palace, Prague, Czech Republic for the 19th International WASBE Conference, on July 23, 2022, once again conducted by Dr. Amy Acklin, Associate Director of Bands at the University of Louisville.

« The solitary steeple of a country church, a towering pine- seeming ancient and ageless at once, the sandstone pinnacles standing like sentries at Bryce Canyon, and the magical skyscape created by the spires of Prague, all seem like messengers of both past and future. Bearing an unusual sense of personification, they stand as witnesses to time itself. Some strain upward, some rise effortlessly, and others seem to float in near weightlessness, touching the space beyond. Impressions of this intrinsic energy became the metaphor that created triggers for the musical gestures of this work. Surging fanfares, floating lyrical ascents, transformative driving passages, and pulsating tutti statements of inexhaustible energy create the profiles of these musical spires.” (Program Note by the composer)

Spires has a performance time of about 5 minutes and it is scored for the following instrumentation: Piccolo

Flutes 1-2

Oboes 1-2

B-flat Clarinets 1-3

B-flat Bass Clarinet

Alto Saxophone 1-2

Tenor Saxophone

Baritone Saxophone

Bassoons 1-2

Contrabassoon (desirable, but optional)

Horns 1-4

B-flat Trumpets 1-4

Trombones 1-2

Bass Trombone


Tuba (2 players)

Percussion 1 (3 Suspended Cymbals (High, Medium and Low), Large Tam tam, Bar Chimes, Snare Drum and 5 Temple Blocks)

Percussion 2 (Glockenspiel and Tenor Drum)

Percussion 3 (Xylophone, Chimes and Low Tom)

Percussion 4 (Marimba, Snare Drum, Temple Blocks and High Suspended Cymbal)

(Temple Blocks may be shared with Percussion 1.)

Percussion 5 (Vibraphone, Snare Drum and Low Tom)

Frederick Speck, Director of Bands and Professor of Music at the University of Louisville, conducts the Wind Symphony and New Music Ensemble, and teaches conducting and composition. Under his leadership, the Wind Symphony has been invited to perform at KMEA Conferences, CBDNA Southern Division Conferences, the MENC National Conference and the CBDNA National Conference. His music has been performed by such ensembles as the Louisville Orchestra, the Denver Symphony and Speculum Musicae, and recorded by such artists as Richard Stoltzman. Twice the recipient of the University of Louisville President’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity, his work has also been recognized the through fellowships and commissions from such organizations as the Barlow Endowment, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Indiana Arts Commission, and the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts. He holds the B.M. and M.M. from Bowling Green State University and the D.M.A. from the University of Maryland.


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