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By Kerry Turner
This work for 12 horns, timpani and percussion was commissioned by the horn sections of the Dallas Symphony and Houston Symphony. They expressed the desire to have a multiple-movement work with a distinct “western” or Texan flair. Those who are familiar with my music, particularly my earlier work, will recognize the fact that this sort of writing would most probably pose no problem for me. Yet I really wanted to more deeply explore the possibilities of a fully “symphonic” sound which could be achieved by the large horn ensemble.
Choosing a topic proved to be fairly simple. I had been interested for quite a long time in using bronze sculptures as an inspiration point. Outside of the “western” and Texan style, I am a huge fan of the French artist Camille Claudel. Bringing an image or a feeling to life directly out of a hunk of cold marble is truly an amazing artistic achievement. In a similar way, gazing upon an action-packed bronze statue, such as the three that I have chosen, and transforming its energy into vibrant and descriptive music seemed like a challenge that shouldn't be missed.
Coming Thru the Rye: This statue by the great Frederick Remington depicts four cowboys on horseback, side by side, galloping along in apparent joy and excitement. Their guns are firing in the air and their ropes and lassos are flying beside and behind them in the wind.
The End of the Trail: Possibly the most famous of the three statues, it is a powerful work by James Earle Fraser. This lone figure on his weary horse is one of the most recognized symbols of the American West. By many it is viewed as a reverent memorial to a great and valiant people. To some Native Americans, however, it is viewed as a reminder of defeat and subjugation a century ago.
The Stampede: Once again by Frederick Remington, this action-packed bronze depicts a hard riding cowboy in the throes of herding cattle that have been frightened into a stampede by a thunder storm.