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justinmerritt inferno for band


INFERNO Part I: Abandon All Hope The Panther, the Lion, & the Wolf The Styx Part II: Upper Hell 3-Headed Hell-Hound Minos the Bull Dark Winds ! ! ! ! Part III: City of Dis Furies at the Gates City of Coffins Part IV: Descent into the Abyss River of Boiling Blood Beneath the Frozen Swamp The Abyss

justinmerrit

Part V: Easter Morning In 2000 composer Justin Merritt (bn. 1975) was the youngest-ever winner of the ASCAP Foundation/Rudolph Nissim Award for Janus Mask. He is also the winner of a host of other awards including the 2008-09 Copland Award, the 2008 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute Prize for River of Blood, and the 2006 Polyphonos Prize

He received his Bachelors from Trinity University and his Masters and Doctorate from Indiana University.  He studied composition with Samuel Adler, Sven-David Sandström, Claude Baker, Timothy Kramer, Don “…demands Freund, and an audience's electronic and attention… computer music with Merritt's Jeffrey Hass. He is piece was the currently Assistant standout.” Professor of -Rob Composition at St. Hubbard, Olaf College. He Pioneer Press resides in Northfield, Minnesota with his wife Yuedong and their children Cullen Fang Ouxiang and Molly Fang Qinghe.

commissioned by Tim Mahr & the St. Olaf Band Made possible by generous funding from the Miles Johnson Foundation. Instrumentation Piccolo 1-2 Flute 1-3 Alto Flute Oboe 1-3 English Horn Bb Clarinet 1-3 Bass Clarinet Contra-alto Clarinet Contrabass Clarinet Bassoon 1-2 Contrabassoon Soprano Saxophone Alto Saxophone 1-2 Tenor Saxophone Baritone Saxophone Horn in F 1-6 Trumpet in C 1-5 Trombone 1-2 Bass Trombone Euphonium Tuba Timpani (set of 5 and set of 4) Percussion (at least 5 players) crotales (both octaves), glockenspiel, vibraphone, xylophone, marimba, tubular bells (2 sets), tambourine, temple blocks, 4 high drums, 4 low drums, 2 bass drums (medium and large), tenor drum, snare drum, 2 suspended cymbals, China cymbal, crash cymbals, 3 tam tams (small, medium and large), 2 water gongs, anvil, 2 triangles, brake drum, thunder sheet, wind machine, chains, ratchet, flexatone Harp Celeste/Synthesizer Piano

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NOTES ON THE PROGRAM

Among American libraries, the most widely held texts (as of 2004) were The U.S. Census, the Bible, and Mother Goose. However, the fourth, edging out Shakespeare, is Dante’s Divine Comedy. Referring to the Inferno (the first third of the Comedy), Jacques Barzun notes, “Remember that he [Dante] wrote a pa “Several mphleteering poem in times I which, as a wandering wrote exile, he damned [quite "Wow!" literally] his political and next to a personal enemies, work extolled friends, and put being forth dogmas by no played...” means all orthodox.” For -Peter example, he was Jacobi, probably the first to put Herald into print the idea that a Times pope (actually several popes) wound up in hell. Dante tried to remake history and faith in this world with his vision of the afterworld. Inferno begins with Dante having wandered thoughtlessly away from the true path. However, when he tries to return, he is driven to the gates of hell by a panther, a lion, & a she-wolf. In this work (somewhat departing from Dante but closer to more ancient accounts of hell) we enter hell by traveling down the Styx, a marsh-like river full of disconsolate shades. There we hear the moans of lost souls and the growls of the beasts below echoing down the rock corridors. Part II begins with another set of threes, the 3-headed hell-hound Cerberus. We hear the barks and screams of animal violence from each of his mouths. Minos, a half bull and half man, is a sort of Satanic St. Peter who judges the sinful and sends the to their proper circle by twisting his tail around his body the corresponding number of times. The hurricane of Dark Winds is end for those with uncontrollable desire. Dante expressed great compassion for these poor souls (especially Francesca Rimini

and Paolo) who suffered in death as they suffered in life from their love. This movement is built not from melodies but from wildly rushing scales with each instrument playing as fast as they possibly can, regardless of the speed of the rest of the ensemble. Three furies guard the gates of the City of Dis (City of Sin). Their wails are as much in agony as in aggression, as they are the daughters of the Queen of Everlasting Lamentation. In this Inferno, the City of Coffins has been reinterpreted as the fate of Ideologues (rather than simply heretics). There are centuries-old methods for encrypting messages (and often names) into the fabric of music. Using these methods and some of my own devising, I have consigned a few dozen friends, enemies, and persons of note to their rightful ends. Not a few living political figures have a spot reserved for them in the City of Coffins. A River of Boiling Blood torments the violent and the bloodthirsty. An army of demonic archers forbids them from escaping or easing their torture. This movement begins with one of the more memorable lines from the Comedy, “And he [the chief demon] made a trumpet of his rear end.” Canto XXI, line 138. The bottommost circles of hell are not fire but ice, beginning with the frozen swamp Cocytus. This swamp is not completely frozen but rather thick, icy sludge, queasily undulating, with occasional bubbles from the sighs of the submerged ghouls murkily breaking the surface. Departing again from Dante, I portray the center of hell not as a massive three-headed worm but as the complete absence of God. This final canto of the Inferno begins with a mocking quotation from a Latin hymn “… the highlight of the year came Nov. 9 with Justin Merritt's Five Preludes for piano…” -Peter Schimpf, Bloomington Independent

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“Vexilla Regis.” The original hymn, composed to celebrate the arrival of a fragment of the true cross to Poitiers, France, begins, “The banners of the king come forth. The mystery of the cross shines out.” In Dante’s rendering it becomes, “The banners come forth of the King of Hell.” The music for Vexilla Regis occurs in different guises throughout the work, but the original tune isn’t heard until the very end of Easter Sunday. This final section begins with a depiction of the waves of Lethe, the River of Forgetfulness, which flows from the summit of the mountain of Purgatory to feed the four rivers of the Inferno. The Inferno ends with Dante emerging from hell to “once again behold the stars.” -notes by the composer

PERFORMANCE NOTES Stage setup As halls and ensembles may vary widely, no precise stage setup is given. However, several important points must be observed. 1) The 9 timpani must be arranged along the back of the ensemble (on low risers if possible.) They should be accessible to 2 players as 1 set of 5 and 1 set of 4 timpani or as 4 players each with two instruments. 2) The piano should be played “stick up” and must not be buried in the percussion section. If necessary, either (or both) the piano and the harp may be lightly amplified in a manner similar to the synthesizer. If amplification is used, it must be through onstage speakers and never through the house P.A. 3) The alto flute soloist in Parts IV and V must be visible to the audience within the ensemble. The player should memorize the solo and play facing the audience without being blocked by a stand. If necessary, the player may quietly move into position during the preceding hymn. Synthesizer setup: The synthesizer used in this piece must be a large modern model capable of easily switching between patches and dynamic shifts using a floor pedal. Also, the synthesizer must have its own amplification located in direct contact with the player. Under no circumstances should the synthesizer use the house P.A. system. At all times, the volume of must be set so that there is an even blend of the electronic sounds with the rest of the ensemble. It should never dominate the sound or stick out either timbrally or dynamically. The dynamic indications given should be reproduced at approximately the same level as could

8 1 5 t h y e p a r k w a y • n o r t h f i e l d , m n • 5 0 7 - 6 4 5 - 4 8 2 0 • i n f o @ m o o n e a s t . c o m • w w w. m o o n e a s t . c o m


be expected from a piano. Pitch must be carefully controllable by a pitch bend wheel, joystick or other analog input. In addition, the interval size of glissandi must be easily adjusted. Finally, the synthesizer player should be placed near the back of the ensemble and never in a prominent visual location. Synthesizer patches: Since concert bands will own a variety of different models of synthesizer, I do not give specific patches for specific models. Instead, I have provided a description of the sounds required and leave it to the taste of the conductor and performer to choose or design specific patches that are appropriate. Great care must be taken both in the selection of synthesizer patches and in the amplification of the instrument. It is suggested that, since a number of different timbres are required, that these sounds be saved in an easily accessible bank with appropriate names. The required timbres are: ! Ghostly Voices This patch should be a vocal emulation patch. It should sound otherworldly but not overly synthetic. It must be audible to the voices from the ensemble but blend with the overall sound. ! Metallic Hum A mysterious and unfocused drone. It should be felt, rather than ! heard, almost like a broken electrical connection. ! Metallic Clink A short (but not clipped) sound similar to striking a piece of metal with a hammer. It should be voiced and at pitch (not sounding an octave higher or over-emphasizing the first partial. ! Radiation This patch is somewhat more focused and “electronic” sounding. It must be well balanced between the upper and lower registers. A very slight vibrato phasing would be appropriate (though not necessary).

its pitch should be largely unfocused. The timbre should be active and layered but should not distract but rather blend with the prevailing texture. If a new patch is designed, great ! creativity can be employed. Remember, though, that the dynamic level will be quite ! l o w and at no point will this sound be “solotistic.” ! Otherworldly Whine Once again, this pitch can be more fantastical and creatively ! designed. It should stand out. The effect should not be of a cheesy synthetic patch but rather of a mysterious, but nevertheless acoustic, sound from the back of the ensemble. Great care must be take to adjust the pitch bend wheel (or other such apparatus) for create the correct amount of glissando. ! Landscape A very warm, rich, fat pad. It should have a very slow attack and decay. ! The overall impression should be last and somewhat indistinct. A slight phasing or !o t h e r timbral modulation is possible, but under no circumstances should it sound “electronic” or clash with the even blend of the ensemble. All quotations in the score with Canto and line numbers are from the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. The English version is a retranslation by the composer based heavily on the 1867 version by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. All Biblical quotations (marked with book, chapter, and verse) are from the King James Version of the Bible. Quotations in the score without citation are the composer’s. The illustrations at the beginning of each section are from Gustave Doré woodcuts specifically for the Comedy. The illustrations found in the score are reproductions of various medieval woodcuts.

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this is a sample only to purchase the complete score or parts and for other compositions by justinmerritt please visit:

www.mooneast.com or send emails to

info@mooneast.com

8 1 5 t h y e p a r k w a y • n o r t h f i e l d , m n • 5 0 7 - 6 4 5 - 4 8 2 0 • i n f o @ m o o n e a s t . c o m • w w w. m o o n e a s t . c o m


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Janus Mask!.................................................................................................. ! winds in 2s River of Blood!.............................................................................................winds in 2s Dervish!.........................................................................................................winds in 2s Lachryme!..............................................................................................string orchestra Monster!........................................................................................................winds in 3s Corde natus!..........................................................................................................SATB Lamentations!.......................................................................................................SATB Hay Días!......................................................................................................SMsATBrB Nativity!.................................................................................................................SATB Adoro Te Devote!.................................................................................................SATB Fire Sermon!....................................................................................SSATB & orchestra

! ! ! ! !

piano

A Gauze of Misted Silver!..........................................................string quartet & harp Ravening!..................................................................................................string quartet Invocation!....................................................................................................8 solo brass The Day Florestan Murdered Magister Raro!............clarinet, violin, cello, & piano Trio!.................................................................................................violin, cello, & piano

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chamber

Standard Deviation!.............................................................................................violin Bar for Hans Sachs!.................................................................................................flute Veloce!.......................................................................................................violin & piano Coupling!................................................................................................................organ Drum Break!...................................................................................................percussion

5 Preludes!..............................................................................................................piano Chaconne: Mercy Endures!..................................................................................piano Rococo Suite!..........................................................................................................piano Sierpinski Gasket!..................................................................................................piano Windchimes!...........................................................................................................piano Hive!...................................................................................................4 pianos, 16 hands

! ! ! ! !

vocal

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other compositions by justinmerritt

Dissonance!.....................................................................................................song cycle Steps Into Stillness!........................................................................................song cycle Dhammapada!................................................................................................song cycle London Thoroughfare, 2AM!...........................................tenor, horn, violin, & piano May Evening in Central Park........................................................... ! baritone & piano

8 1 5 t h y e p a r k w a y • n o r t h f i e l d , m n • 5 0 7 - 6 4 5 - 4 8 2 0 • i n f o @ m o o n e a s t . c o m • w w w. m o o n e a s t . c o m

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