Proteus Rising from the Sea
Duration: c. 10:00
Cost: contact composer, please
Crystal goblets (10; 5 pitches doubled by Picc.; Fl. I-II; Ob. I-II)
Eb Soprano Clarinet
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV-V
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Alto Saxophone I-II
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Bb Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Piano (doubling celesta or synthesizer)
Percussion I-II-III (five players), including:
- Congas (2)
- Cymbals (crash and suspended)
- Glockenspiel (Orchestral Bells)
- Mark tree
- Snare Drum
- Tam Tam (gong, with cello bow)
- Timbales (2)
- Tom-toms (5)
- Tubular Bells (Chimes)
- Vibraphone (with mallets and cello bow)
- Water Gong
None discovered thus far.
Proteus Rising from the Sea was composed during a 1993-94 Research Leave from The College of Wooster. It was commissioned by the Air Force Band of Flight, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, Lt. Col. Richard A. Shelton, Commander and Conductor, for inclusion on the ensemble’s compact disc titled Images, devoted to landscapes and seascapes.
A single-movement work of 10 minutes’ duration, Proteus makes use of a number of unusual instrumental colors (such as tuned crystal goblets, water gongs, bowed percussion instruments, etc.), complex changes of meter, and challenging demands for each section of the ensemble.
In Greek mythology, Proteus was a sea god who possessed the power of altering his shape. Described as the son or attendant of Poseidon, Proteus held the power of foretelling the future. Often described as slumbering in or near the seas, he sometimes was awakened by mortals who desired to wrest from him the secrets of the future. Proteus was said to resist such challenges by changing his shape into a succession of fearsome or intimidating creatures.
The title of the work is taken from the following lines of Wordsworth’s sonnet The World is Too Much With Us:
So might I...
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
The prevailing imagery of the piece endeavors to depict a fanciful scenario in which a formidable sea god, disturbed from his slumbers by importunate mortals, proceeds to wreak a formidable wrath and vengeance. The musical argument is precipitated by the god’s awakening (represented by opening hammer strokes for the full ensemble), after which the piece begins quietly and enigmatically and proceeds gradually to a show of great turbulence by the end.
Early on, numerous grumblings and disquieting sonorities depict the reluctance of the god to become involved. A repeated, clarion-like motive in the solo oboe is heard, representative of the deity’s warning, to repeated importuning, that he be undisturbed. Failing in this exhortation and stretching to his full stature, he becomes increasingly animated. Displays of machismo soon lead to a colloquy with Triton’s imagined horn. Near the end of the work, the clarion-like warning motive, now in 11/8 meter, surfaces in the piano, ramifies through the entire ensemble, and is heard contrapuntally in augmentation with itself as a massive, ominous chorale in the brass. Finally, in an ostentatious display of strength, the god casts out the interlopers with the same hammer-stroke gesture with which the piece began.
Proteus Rising from the Sea was premiered 26 January 1995 at East Tennessee State University by the Air Force Band of Flight, Lt. Col. Richard A. Shelton, conductor, and released, as noted above, on that ensemble's compact disc titled Images. The work was performed at the 1998 Society of Composers, Inc. National Conference by the Indiana University Wind Ensemble, Ray Cramer, conductor, and at the 2002 SCI National Conference by the University of Akron Symphonic Band, Robert Jorgensen, conductor. It was selected for the Virginia College Band Directors 2001 Symposium of New Band Music at the University of Richmond, where it was conducted by the composer.
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- Indiana University Symphonic Band (Jeffrey Gershman, conductor) - 15 November 2011
- Cincinnati College-Conservatory Symphony Band (Terrence Milligan, conductor) - 1 May 2008
- The College of Wooster Scot Symphonic Band (Jack Gallagher, conductor) - 14 May 2006
Works for Winds by this Composer
- Ancient Evenings and Distant Music for wind quintet (1971)
- Celebration and Reflection for brass quintet (1970)
- Diversions: Triptych for Symphonic Band (1985)
- Mist-Covered Mountain: Fantasy for Symphonic Band on a Scottish Pipe Tune (1983)
- The Persistence of Memory (In Memoriam: Brian Israel) (1989)
- Proteus Rising from the Sea (1994)
- Psalm of Life: Fantasy for Symphonic Band on Tchesnokoff's "Salvation Is Created" (1997)
- Resonances for four trumpets (1983)
- Stanfare for eight trumpets and timpani (1996)
- Toccata for Brass Quintet (1970)