Like a River

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Like a River
Pontiac Municipal Band, Pontiac, Illinois
Scot Schickel, Director 
2023 - grade 4 - 4:25

One of my greatest joys (and challenges) in accepting commissions is making every attempt to accommodate the musical, and sometimes extra-musical requests made by the commissioning party.  I have found that these suggestions have sent me in musical directions I may never have considered pursuing, and am therefore immensely grateful for the many ideas that have been presented to me over the years.  For this piece I was asked to consider using a hymn, and writing in a big-band or Dixieland style.  Obviously, not all hymns lend themselves to such treatment, but spirituals by nature are often an excellent choice, and for me, "Peace Like a River" seemed the perfect vehicle to present in a variety of styles. 

This setting opens with a feeling of floating on a river, and quotes part of the theme of another tune that references a river, "Shenandoah."  The river's currents take the listener into unexpected waters through a sweeping key change, and then into a New Orleans style Dixieland band's rendition.  A brief percussion interlude leads us to a "Big Band" style arrangement harkening back to the 1940's, giving way to a majestic conclusion. 

Like a River is my the second commission I have written for the Pontiac Municipal Band, the first being Riverside Overture ten years ago in 2013, written for the opening of their new band shell on the river.  While I did not choose the spiritual, "Peace Like a River" for the use of the word "river" in the title, it does somehow feel like a very happy accident!  I certainly want to thank the band and their director, Scot Schickel for inviting me to write for this wonderful ensemble again.