Concerto for Tuba
Instrumentation: Solo and Wind Band Instruments: Tuba
with Wind Band (also available with Piano accompaniment)
This work was commissioned by Timothy Northcut in honor of Winston Morris, professor of tuba and euphonium at Tennessee Tech University since 1967. Among many others, his former students—both Tim and I included—call him a mentor, friend, and genuine hero to the tuba-euphonium world. Anyone who’s met Winston knows that he’s a larger-than-life character, and our goal was to capture a snapshot of that character within the piece.
The first movement, RWM, is constructed from a rhythmic motive that forms the basis of the entire work: 1/4 note followed by 4 1/8 notes
This motive, based on the name ‘R. Winston Morris’, becomes the driving force throughout the work, acting as a musical anchor point. The entrance of the solo tuba introduces the main musical theme that goes on to form much of the melodic material. Conceptually, the first movement represents a day in September of 1967 as Morris began his career at Tennessee Tech University. Beginning with a gentle, noble theme, the mood quickly builds and shifts into an energetic and sometimes whimsical whirlwind. The end of the movement relentlessly hammers out the motive—a tribute to Winston’s unrelenting musical drive. This abruptly shifts with the final note, moving seamlessly into the second movement.
The second movement, Sweet Steel, is dedicated in loving memory to Barbara “Bobbie” Morris. Although the tone is very dark and brooding, it’s ultimately a love song by the soloist, journeying through the stages of grief. From the darkness a second theme, hopeful and uplifting, rises to a heartfelt climax.
The final movement, Cookevegas, is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Cookeville, TN, home of Winston and Tennessee Tech University. His love of jazz is a major influence on this hectic, jazzy trip through the small Southern city. A return of the driving ‘RWM’ motive from the first movement brings the concerto to its finale.
Recording is from the premiere with the U.S. Army Band:
BEN MCMILLAN (b. 1984) holds a degree in music composition from Tennessee Tech University. His music has been performed internationally by leading artists, including Steven Mead, Sergio Carolino, Spanish Brass, Eufonix Quartet, North Texas Euphonium Quartet, and the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble. He has had performances at major music venues and conferences including the International Tuba/Euphonium Conference and regional conferences, the Tennessee Music Educators Conference, the US Army Band Tuba/Euphonium Workshop, and Carnegie Hall. He currently resides in northern California.
As a former euphoniumist, Ben was principle soloist with the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble on numerous tours and performances, and recorded several albums with the group. While living in the Midwest, Ben performed on baritone and tenor horn with the award-winning Fountain City Brass Band, based in Kansas City.
Ben studied composition with professors Dr. Greg Danner and James Barnes.
|Instrumentation||Solo and Wind Band|
|Publisher||Cimarron Music Press|