VOICES OF THE WILD for Symphony Orchestra and Recorded Sounds, 1988

Duration: 13:00 - 14:00
Performance practicality: Medium difficulty.  Person needed to run the CD player or computer, pausing and starting as directed in the score, which the conductor uses to cue the orchestra.  Traditional notation and meter. Recorded sounds’ volume should be set to be equal to the orchestra’s.  The engineer should follow a study score to begin and end the sections in the proper places, which are on separate tracks on the CD or other device. Sections (tracks) on the CD are: 1(3:19), 2(:51), 3(1:04), 4(2:10), 5(2:16). 6(1:36).

The impetus for composing VOICES OF THE WILD came from two sources: a National Endowment for the Arts Composer Grant awarded in 1986, and the immediate influence of the McLean Mix’s national tour “IN WILDERNESS IS THE PRESERVATION OF THE WORLD”, performed from 1985-1989.  McLean imagined spring peepers (tiny tree frogs) and strings together, and decided to create sections using different groups of wildlife singing their mating songs. Priscilla McLean would be the soloist on electronic instruments with the orchestra.  The Albany Symphony (NY) agreed to premiere the work and asked for a longer piece with more than one movement.  Barton McLean then composed the second movement. On February 26, 1988 the premiere of VOICES OF THE WILD took place with the Albany Symphony and the two McLeans as soloists for the two movements, conducted by Julius Hegyi.  This was a bold step for the orchestra, and had mixed audience reaction, although the work received rave reviews from reviewer Ron Emery of the Albany Times Union newspaper.

VOICES OF THE WILD begins and ends with peepers, the orchestral sounds growing out of the high cluster. Sounding like crickets and birds, the orchestra gradually develops its ideas into full-blown musical gestures— melodies and ostinati as well as dramatic repeated cluster-chords.  The music’s climax arrives during the whale calls (constructed from one whale song) as both the wild and orchestral motifs reach their pinnacle.  The piece ends in gentle affirmation by the horns playing the music of the earlier-heard wolf pack song and the peepers’ return. The nature sounds were recorded by McLean directly from the wild, from recordings, and from Louis Herman’s recording whale songs at the Cetacean Research Center in Honolulu, HI.

After another performance by the Chico, CA Symphony, Barton's second movement became a separate work, leaving Priscilla as the sole composer.  VOICES OF THE WILD now stands at the time listed above. In 1990 Priscilla's VOICES OF THE WILD was chosen by the International Rostrum of Composers for radio broadcast of the Albany Symphony premiere, and was broadcast worldwide that year, along with such radio venues as Morning Pro Musica with Robert J. Lurtsema.

The solo part with the recorded sounds has been placed on a performance CD due to the constantly changing electronic instruments and obsolescence complications of a live soloist.  VOICES OF THE WILD is published by the composers’ MLC Publications, 55 Coon Brook Rd., Petersburgh, NY 12138.
Voices of the Wild - Priscilla McLean with the Albany Symphony Orchestra
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