There Was a Star Danced for orchestra


    ca. 4 minutes

We can all thank Jason Weinberger for this piece. Jason was invited to conduct the Alabama All-State Orchestra and learned that a new work was commissioned each year. The two of us had been trying for nearly a year to do something together, so this was our chance. He suggested my name to the organizers and they agreed to commission me without hearing a note.

I began writing. With the exuberance of adolescence in mind and having worked with high schoolers before, I knew that they would be limited only by my expectations. So I shot for the moon—I wrote a professional level piece for their irrepressible energy.

Then the title. After growing up hearing works with evocative titles such as Appalachian Spring and Ancient Voices of Children, I cannot bring myself to give my music titles like Sonata or Symphony, or worse...Four Pieces for (Name the Ensemble). After finishing a new piece, I ask everyone I know (and trust) if they have any ideas for a title. I describe the music and often we all look blankly at walls. One of my friends is a Shakespeare fiend and after I described the music, he instantly said the title had to be this line (There was a star danced) from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Brilliant!, and for three reasons: the phrase fits the music perfectly, the play’s title fits the reality of an orchestra working very hard for FOUR minutes, and the words are in the public domain, which means I can use them with impunity.