a six-composer collaboration, The Sousa Variations, based on John Philip Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever.
Variation I "Minsu" by Alexis Alrich
In this Sousa Variation the different strains are presented more or less in order and are varied in different ways. It begins with overlapping loops of fragments taken from the original march. The famous trio is first presented in Cambodian style with the melody played by several treble instruments with improvised-style embellishments. The variation ends with a faithful transcription of Sousa's irresistible work.
Variation II "Sousa Variance" by David Graves
This short piece is a darkening of the most recognizable theme in Sousa's most famous work. The initial series of chords, marked "pensive", resolves to the solo alto flute's dark entrance. In a larger ensemble, this might be a little overwhelming; for a chamber orchestra, I'm hoping the balance will deliver an intimate short story of sincerity and desolation. It also takes advantage of the large woodwind contingent available in the current incarnation of the SFCCO.
Variation III "Variations on Americana" by Mark Alburger
maps denatured pitches (often with accidentals removed, or mode change) of John Philip Sousa's four-strain Stars and Stripes Forever over an abbrieviated rhythmic grid and some of the contour of Charles Ives's Variations on America. That the third strain of the dialectic has been transformed into a vague resemblance of Lowell Mason's Mary Had a Little Lamb is purely coincidental, and very welcome. The coda features distorted SASF quotes previously utilized in my setting of Tennesee Williams's Camino Real (Op. 110), for Block Four (Kilroy and the Loan Shark). The moral of the story in this case seems to be that rhythm is a far stronger identity and identifier than pitch.