for wind ensemble

Written: 2013-14
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 EnsembleCornell WindsKeystone Wind EnsembleUB 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.
PublisherBill Holab Music

NOTE: 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.

View Score | Buy Sheet Music


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.


Firecracker Alley is fantastic, some of the richest wind ensemble sounds I think I’ve ever heard... such beautiful use of percussion and a lovely bubbliness to the progression of the piece, sort of like a carbonated drink fizzying along. My husband grew up in Arkansas where every type of firework was legal, and he said he was left to enjoy them all, completely unsupervised, from a very early age - we listened together, and he said your piece (for him) really spoke clearly to that sense of early confidence with dangerous, yet magical, substances.
— Juliana Hall, Composer