for wind ensemble
Duration: ca. 7'
Instrumentation: wind ensemble: 1 piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 4 saxophones, 3 B-flat trumpets, 4 horns, 3 trombones (2 plus bass), 1 euphonium, 1 tuba, 6 percussion, timpani
Commissioned by the Kutztown University Wind Ensemble, Cornell Winds, Keystone Wind Ensemble, UB Concert Band, and a consortium of wind ensembles.
First World Premiere: Kutztown University Wind Ensemble, Daniel Neuenschwander, Director, Kutztown University, Schaeffer Auditorium, April 16, 2014.
Publisher: Bill Holab Music
NOTE – SPECIAL OFFER: for a limited time, the Bang Snaps (a.k.a. Bang Pops, Snap n' Pops, etc.) used at the end of the piece will be provided by the publisher for performances of this work.
Growing up in Buffalo, NY, one of my favorite pastimes was setting off firecrackers with friends. We knew our parents wouldn't approve and would punish us if they found out—which made it all the more exciting—so we would meet in a secluded neighborhood alley. We had all sorts of firecrackers with crazy sounding names like Thunder Bombs, Crrackfires, Cherry Bombs, Sonic Booms, and so on, not to mention our favorites, bottle rockets.
Blowing off firecrackers made us feel empowered. We were literally playing with fire and knew we were doing something dangerous—after all, we could lose a finger, or even an eye—but it was exciting all the same. We would purchase fireworks from shops across the Canadian border where they were legal. Or, more accurately, we would find teenagers with cars and a penchant for mischief; they had quite a racket selling fireworks on the sly to younger kids in the neighborhood.
Part of the fun in creating Firecracker Alley was figuring out which effects sound firecracker-like. Of course, I had to call for multiple slapsticks, but there are also loud drums, rim shots, whistles, lines in the winds that are reminiscent of bottle rockets. Through it all, there are fanfare-like brass passages that capture the excitement and joy of setting off firecrackers.