Commissioned by Allan Dennis and the Midwest Young Artists Conservatory, in celebration of their 25th anniversary season.
I am very delighted to have been asked by Allan Dennis to contribute a musical tribute to the illustrious 25th anniversary celebration of the Midwest Young Artists Conservatory, which he and his wife, Karen, founded.
As students there, my daughters have been fortunate to have been beneficiaries of Allan and Karen’s warm care, for both the music, and for the people playing it.
In keeping with the “let’s-do-it-togther” spirit that Allan embodies, MYApalooza (Midwest-Young- Artists-palooza) was to use a melody created by a student as a basis for it’s creation.
When I was a young orchestral student myself, I’ll never forget when I first encountered Modest Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain”. Even though just eleven at the time, I found myself struck by the harmonies, which to my young ears were fresh, new, and exciting. Now looking back, it was that piece that captured my imagination as to what music could be, and I think that it is a large part of the reason that I am a composer today.
And so, when one of the melodies from which I was to choose reminded me of the foreboding low-melody in the Mussorgsky, I knew I had something with which to work.
In “MYApalooza”, however, the tone is one of celebration. Therefore, the melody only comes later (letter D), once the mood has been established, and grows from being somewhat ominous to one of jubilation by the end of the piece.
Mostly, I just want the piece to be fun, because that is clearly what Allan wants from the podium. I can’t think of a better message to send to young musicians as they begin their careers, or even if only to be a lifelong avocation. It is in that spirit in which this piece was created, and in which I wish it to be received.
Jim Stephenson July 29, 2017