FOR PERCUSSION OCTET (AND OPTIONAL WIND ENSEMBLE) • 3.5 MINUTES • MED-EASY
Commissioned by the Lanier Middle School Percussion Ensemble and Symphonic Band (Hunter McRae, director).
Premiered at the University of Georgia Middle School Festival 2007
Stormbreak was written as a sequel of sorts to Technology, another moderately simple piece for percussion octet that has since become quite popular for beginning-level percussion ensembles. Opening with nature-effect sounds, the storm breaks into a rhythmic “tip of the hat” to Technology on the rim of the snare drum. As rhythmic layers add in, the syncopated motif of Stormbreak becomes clear and continues to drive the piece throughout.
Certain parts are more challenging than others, and syncopation is of particular demand. However, numerous repeat bars are used, as the primary goal is to develop the players’ collective ability to understand how their parts groove and interact within the mix of their fellow groove-playing compadres. For more advanced players in the ensemble, solo sections are included which feature timpani, snare drum, and concert toms.
Stormbreak can stand alone as a percussion octet, but it also comes with the option of being played by a full wind ensemble. During wind ensemble concerts, the percussion section can sometimes be relegated to the back, so this option acts as something of a percussion ensemble “feature” that can be programmed into wind ensemble concerts.