Sky Race

Program Notes:

Our story begins in the far distant future, in a city that miraculously floats in the sky, filled with technology beyond our wildest imaginings. Every year, this city holds a week-long festival of merriment and gaiety that concludes with the highly anticipated city-wide race. Racers from all over the city spend months constructing elaborate racing machines and honing their skills, all for the chance to be crowned this year’s winner. And this year, there is a newcomer to the racetrack, a scrappy youngster who has poured every bit of their soul into a modest and carefully constructed racer. With elbow grease, duct tape, and a prayer, they’re determined to win!

The piece begins on the day of the race. All the streets are temporarily closed except to those heading to the starting line, and the sidewalks are jam-packed with cheering people who are anxious to see their favorite racer cross the finish line. Woodwinds rip across multiple scales while brass and percussion honk out many different timbres, representative of the joyful din that is race day. The racers take their mark and our protagonist takes their final checks before the starting beacon. Finally, with a unison rhythm played across nearly the entire ensemble, the starting bell is heard, and the racers are off!

The racetrack starts as a simple straightway, represented by the soprano sax and E-flat clarinets solos. But before long, our protagonist dashes by a group of their fellow supporters, represented by the flutes and sleigh bells, who are relentless in their support for the youngster.

Then, the track starts to get very treacherous as the road narrows and becomes very winding, represented by the uneven time signatures and complex scales in the full band. Amid the action, our protagonist has an idea. Carefully timing the turn into the next straightway, the racer activates a very special tool they have been saving: TURBO BOOST! The racer whooshes into the front of the pack and makes some great distance from the other racers.

They have a brief moment of repose in the straightway as they look out at a beautiful view of the city, represented first by the English Horn and muted trumpets followed by the full ensemble.

Finally, they see the finish line. Now is the time to focus. Now is the time to win! They notice behind them that some of the other racers have nearly caught up to him. The crowd is getting louder as the finish line gets closer. And just when things are so close that everyone’s breath stands still, our protagonist dashes across the finish line with the slightest edge on those behind them, winning the race! The piece ends with their vehicle screeching to a halt, represented in the piccolo and percussion, and as gently as a suddenly breaking racer can be, bumps into a padded wall to come to a full stop. The vehicle is definitely on the verge of collapse and disrepair, but our protagonist has never felt better!

Instrumentation:

  • Flute I-III, Piccolo
  • Oboe I & II, English Horn
  • Clarinet (in E-flat)
  • Clarinet I-III (in B-flat)
  • Bass Clarinet, Contrabass Clarinet
  • Bassoon I & II, Contrabassoon
  • Soprano Saxophone
  • Alto Saxophone I & II
  • Tenor Saxophone I & II
  • Baritone Saxophone
  • Trumpet I-III (in B-flat)
  • Horn I-IV
  • Trombone I-III, Bass Trombone
  • Euphonium
  • Tuba
  • Double Bass
  • Harp
  • Piano
  • Timpani
  • Percussion I: Glockenspiel, Snare Drum
  • Percussion II: Snare Drum, Sleigh Bells, Crash Cymbals
  • Percussion III: Crash Cymbals, Tam-tam, Two Wood Blocks (high and low), Suspended Cymbal, Ratchet
  • Percussion IV: Bass Drum, Whip, Triangle
  • Percussion V: Marimba, Chimes

Score and parts available for purchase through T.U.X People’s Music

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