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James Grant

List of Compositions

Return to James Grant page

Catalog of Works

James Grant

To request info on receiving perusal scores and recordings to any of the music listed below, contact James Grant Music

ORCHESTRAL MUSIC

CHAMBER MUSIC


CHART

Overture for Orchestra
2.2.2.2/4.3.3.1/3 perc/strings; one mvt., ca. 7:30

1st Prize, 1998 Indiana State University / Louisville Symphony Orchestra competition for new orchestral music

Recorded by the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra

Notices

... [places Grant] in the developing mainstream of classical composers who are beginning to win serious audiences back... brings out the heavy artillery in the percussion to compete with, and to kid around with, modern jazz and rock idioms... a jazzy, noisy piece that pays homage to the improvisational irreverence of the classic American idiom... competes with American popular music on its own deafening decibel level without the aid of amplification or studio tricks...
-- T. L. Ponick
The Fairfax Connection

... a very appealing new work... the elements of swing and jazz that dominate the texture do not mask the underlying structure and complexity... audience reaction was enthusiastic...
-- Ed Roberts
The Washington Post

... boisterous, explosive... [couched in] an underlying jazz idiom [with] sections of exquisite lyricism... its highly-charged rhythms keep audiences on the edge of their seats, resulting in enthusiastic ovations...
-- William Hudson, Music Director
Fairfax Symphony Orchestra

Program notes

      CHART obliquely borrows some of its structural, harmonic and rhythmic materials from the world of jazz and rock -- hence its title, which alludes to the label given by pop musicians to their music scores and arrangements of tunes.

      Structurally, CHART at times employs the respectable practice of "trading 4s (or 2s)," where a musician is given the opportunity to solo for four (or two) measures before "passing it over" to another player. Trading 4s is the cooperative way for musicians to get in their licks and say what they have to say before the piece ends. Harmonically, CHART on several occasions does offer harmonic progressions -- or "changes," to use the lingo -- familiar to jazz musicians. The influence of rock (or is it Stravinsky?) is heard in its rhythmic articulation and percussive repetition of musical materials. Although CHART does invoke these and other elements of contemporary popular music -- relentless motion, motivic repetition, driving rhythms -- it uses them only as a point of departure in creating its own rhetoric and syntax, resulting in immediate, fast-paced, physical, and somewhat unruly music. CHART is not jazz, nor is it rock: it is in part, however, a reflection of these two dynamic forces which have so dominated American musical culture for half a century.

      CHART was composed on commission for the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and was first performed by that organization under the direction of William Hudson.

Rental information
To request perusal score and recording, contact James Grant Music


Concerto Fantasy for Percussion and Orchestra

solo percussion plays timpani, vibes and drum set, with 2.2.2.2/4.3.3.1/2perc/strings; through-composed, four sections
available in reduced brass instrumentation of 2.2.1.0
ca. 26:00

Notices

... cause of great excitement... a percussionistıs fantasy... a spectacular showcase for the timpani, vibraphone, and 9-piece "trap set"... the sound is big, brassy, and exciting... a sensuous, eerie vibraphone solo, joined by the orchestra for an intimate jazz club sound, full of tender schmaltz... a spectacular end... the premier performance was an exciting, rewarding experience...
-- Jim Lowe
Burlington Free Press

... [its four performances] met with overwhelmingly pleasing response from both musicians and audiences...
-- Joseph Giunta (Music Director, Des Moines Symphony)
Guest Conductor with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra

Program notes

      Performing musicians spend untold hours practicing their instruments, perfecting aspects of tone, articulation, dynamics, nuance -- all the subtleties which, when fused together, create the uniqueness of a player's sound. The percussionist practices no differently than any other musician, except there is one added dimension: the percussionist is capable of playing on more than one instrument at a time. He therefore practices polyrhythms -- i.e., the execution of one rhythm in one hand (or foot, as the case may be) while executing a different rhythm in the other, both rhythms distributed equally over the same amount of time. For example: playing three equal beats in one hand while playing two in the other (3:2); or playing four beats against three (4:3). For the percussionist, composite polyrhythmic formulae become ingrained in the subconscious through long, hard hours of concentrated, tedious practice, usually carried out in the isolation of a soundproofed practice room, a garage, or, depending on the tolerance of family and friends, somewhere in the next county.

      Most simply put, a concerto is an orchestral composition that features a solo instrument; and a fantasy is whatever we might want it to be. Concerto Fantasy for Percussion and Orchestra features a lone timpanist honing down the subtleties and vulgarities of his technique as he practices 7:4 -- seven equal beats played in the same time as four equal beats. His increasingly frenzied exploration of 7:4 reaches its saturation point, and the percussionist transcends into the ultimate fantasy: a practice session that quite suddenly transforms into a concerto for percussionist and orchestra in which the soloist gets out from behind his four timpani and plays other percussion instruments as well. And, as in all concerti, there are ample opportunities for the soloist to show off. This particular concerto features seven solo cadenzas.

      Concerto Fantasy for Percussion and Orchestra unfolds as one continuous movement divided roughly into four sections. The second section is offered in memoriam Nelson Riddle, the great jazz arranger whose sensitively orchestrated arrangements backed up many of the great vocalists from the 40s through the 80s.

      Concerto Fantasy for Percussion and Orchestra was composed for and is gratefully dedicated to percussionist and timpanist Bill Hanley, who once had the fantasy:

      . . . .What if an orchestra sat behind ME for a change? And what if I got to play vibes and drums in addition to timpani? And what if the orchestra had to practice and play 7:4 the way I have to? And what if I got to play some jazz? And howzabout some be-bop? And cadenzas. . . . LOTS of cadenzas. . . .

Rental information
To request perusal score and recording James Grant Music


LAMENT

for string orchestra
large or small string ensemble; one mvt., ca. 10:30

Recorded by the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra

Notices

... a superlative composition, very satisfying to perform... evokes an ethereal, pious ambiance moving listeners to relate to the music with spiritual introspection... musicians performing the composition share this enigmatic feeling...
-- Hugo Vianello, Artistic Director and Conductor
Missouri Chamber Orchestra

... full, beautiful and truly original... absolutely spiritual... depth, intrigue and passion... the audience senses the magic immediately...
-- Joseph Giunta, Music Director
Des Moines Symphony

... a lovely, meditative piece which carries much emotional power...
-- Kate Tamarkin, Music Director
Vermont Symphony Orchestra

... a beautifully written work that exploits the manifold qualities of the string orchestra, always to the end of controlled and eloquent expression...
-- David Epstein, Music Director
The New Orchestra of Boston

... an intensely lyrical and touching work... effective for a small or large group of strings... the climax represents a gripping emotional catharsis...
-- William Hudson, Music Director
Fairfax Symphony Orchestra

Program notes

      As its name suggests, LAMENT for string orchestra is not a lighthearted work. It is, rather, a meditation on the myriad emotional and spiritual challenges that daily confront us all. An opening lamentation gently beseeches, gives way to rising passions and swells into full and compelling grief. As the mood clears, a slim sense of hope surfaces, hovers tentatively, then transcends into the sublime. Once more, the spirit gathers strength and begins its journey towards renewal.

Rental/Purchase information
To request perusal score and recording James Grant Music


Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

solo piano with 2.2.2.2/4.3.3.1/timp/2perc/strings
also available in reduced brass instrumentation of 2.2.1.0
four mvts; ca. 42:00

Recorded by the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra

Notices

... reaction to your concerto was simply terrific... I continue to hear rave reviews from everyone I come in contact with... thank you for writing a work of remarkable beauty and power...
-- Robert Palmer, pianist
soloist with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra

... wow!... the whole piece came across most eloquently... the Rhapsody [third movement] caught me in the gut and didnıt let go... the piano had absolutely stunningly gorgeous melodic content... the last movement sounds like Bartok, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Scriabin all rolled into one pair of hands... quite a finale...
-- Gale Bullock
Music Critic, Columbia, Missouri

... it was my pleasure to conduct the first performance of Grantıs Concerto for Piano and Orchestra... a large-scale work full of color, much variety of style, and imagination [that] has continuous appeal for the listener... a monumental, major accomplishment... the reputation of James Grant is established on this work alone...
-- William Hudson, Music Director
Fairfax Symphony Orchestra

... not only is the writing entirely idiomatic for the instrument, but within the impressive scope of the piece one finds an astonishing number of ideas, and these are enormously varied and strongly communicative...
-- Jeffrey Chappell, pianist
soloist on recording with Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra

... a wild, energetic, kaleidoscopic piece... at turns lyrical, rhythmic, humorous, and dramatic... creates an experience of far greater intensity than is usually experienced by audiences when new music is performed... passes through the full range of human emotions... a cathartic and moving experience for performers and audiences alike...
-- Michael Arnowitt, pianist
soloist with University of Vermont Symphony Orchestra

Program notes

      Concerto for Piano and Orchestra is presented in four movements, preceded by an introductory Invocation for solo piano that briefly presents the musical building blocks upon which the four movements are based. The gentle Invocation is followed by the explosive first movement, Toccata (hell-bent), which asks the pianist to explore and exploit the full range of the piano keyboard with unrelenting vigor. The second movement, Invention (quirky) - Dance (elegant), contrasts the somewhat eccentric, angular rhetoric of the imitative Invention with a graceful and more conventionally melodic Dance. The romantic, expansive third movement, Rhapsody (tender), unabashedly invokes beauty and pathos in the spirit of the late 19th-century concerto. Employing a variety of orchestral textures and tempi, the fourth and final movement, Ebullition (zesty), finds the piano weaving its way through now familiar musical materials as it pushes inexorably towards the concertoıs conclusion.

      The musical language of the concerto orbits several simple melodic and harmonic cells that are developed both tonally (Invocation, Dance, Rhapsody), and not-so-tonally (Toccata, Invention, Ebullition). The juxtaposition of these two harmonic "spins" sets up a sonic platform conducive to exhibiting the vast range and versatility of the piano -- not to mention the impressive virtuosity of the pianist.

Notes to the Conductor

Rental information
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THREE FURIES

for tuba and orchestra
solo tuba with 2.2.2.2/4.2.3.0/timp/2perc/strings; three movements, ca. 12:00

Featured at the 1998 International Tuba / Euphonium Conference, performed by the Minneapolis Pops, Mark Nelson, tuba

Notices

...until [Grantıs Three Furies] you could count the number of notable tuba concertos on the fingers of one hand... showed the tuba to have a deeply musical soul, considerable agility and strong capabilities of both dramatic and lyrical expression... the instrument played some lovely dark-hued melodies, produced a few flatulent blasts that might have started a bomb scare, and ventured mellowly into regions of sound that might remind you of a French horn... angry, abrupt, brilliant solo work in the third movement... this is an excellent piece of music and, as tubists will agree, badly needed...
-- Joseph McLellan
The Washington Post

... absolutely brilliant in scoring and support for the tuba... the "jazz" harmonies and rhythms of the second movement hearken back to earlier Ellington and Gershwin sounds, but with a more "cool" feel to the texture... the third movement is especially riveting in its drive, punctuated by the orchestra with tutti syncopated rhythms and sustained chords... rare to find such an excellent work...
-- Mark Nelson
New Music Editor, TUBA Journal

... a dazzling piece with great audience appeal, highly inventive and full of infectious ideas... a valuable addition to the tuba repertoire...
-- William Hudson, Music Director
Fairfax Symphony Orchestra

Program notes

      Three Furies for Tuba and Orchestra is an extension of an earlier work, Three Furies for Solo Tuba, which was composed in January and February of 1993 at the request of tubist Mark Nelson, to whom that work is gratefully dedicated. Both the solo and orchestral versions of the piece reflect the surprising -- indeed, remarkable -- flexibility possessed by the tuba, and offer a music that is immediate, good-natured and fun, requiring of the soloist both keen musicianship and physical stamina.

      The 12-minute orchestral version of the Three Furies was penned in February of 1995 and is happily dedicated to the musicians of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, with special kudos going to principal tubist Michael Bunn.

      Each of the Three Furies is virtuosic in its own right, offering a multiplicity of distinct rhythms, melodic figures and articulations:

Rental information
To request perusal score and recording James Grant Music


Suite for Viola and String Orchestra

solo viola with string orchestra; four mvts; ca. 23:00

Program notes

      The Suite for Viola and String Orchestra is in four movements: torch, a seductive "torch song" in the spirit of the popular romantic American ballad of the 40s; dance 1, a gentle, somewhat shy waltz (which occasionally diverges from "3 beats to the bar"); recitative, a turbulent, poignant narrative; and dance 2, a gregarious effulgence that brings the suite to a lyrical close. Over the course of the four movements, the soloist is given ample opportunity to celebrate the violaıs characteristic expressive warmth, as well as its less frequently employed capacity as a vehicle for nimble, virtuoso playing.

      Suite for Viola and String Orchestra is the fruit of a consortium commission. The consortium consisted of violists Eve Abraham, Michael Kimber, Michelle LaCourse, and Anna Rogers, along with the following orchestras: the Lawrence Chamber Players, Juan LaManna, conductor; the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, Jed Gaylin, conductor; The Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, Bruce Sorrell, conductor; and the Goucher Chamber Symphony, Sebrina Alfonso, conductor.

Rental/Purchase information
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Outside Suite for String Orchestra

youth or community string orchestra; three mvts; ca. 23:00

Program notes

      The Outside Suite for String Orchestra offers a musical trek up a mountain trail to the mountainıs summit. As the suite begins, The Mountain appears in the distance with imposing, majestic glory. The congenial hike up The Trail is not without skips, jumps, and the occasional climbing challenge. And upon reaching The Summit, the breathtaking view is surpassed only by the wild winds and the thrill of finally reaching the top.

      While any one of the movements can be excerpted and presented as a single piece, the complete Outside Suite works well as a three-movement excursion into a spectrum of textures and tempi appropriately crafted for the intermediate to advanced level string orchestra.

      The Outside Suite for String Orchestra was commissioned in 1998 by Janie H. Harris, Executive Director of the Institute for the Environment Through the Arts, as part of the Instituteıs two-year 1998-2000 Youth Orchestra Project.

Purchase information
To request perusal score and recording, contact James Grant Music


Three Furies for Solo Tuba

solo tuba; three mvts; ca. 11:00

Recorded by Mark Nelson on his CD, Aboriginal Voices. For more information, contact Mark Nelson.

Notices

...an absolutely brilliant work... one of the most challenging, yet inspired and playable unaccompanied tuba pieces ever attempted... [as compared to the Penderecki Capriccio: ] . . . even bolder, more lyrical, and exploitive of the true capabilities of the tuba, without avant-garde effects.... I believe Grantıs Three Furies for Solo Tuba is destined to become a standard in the professional unaccompanied tuba repertoire...
-- Mark Nelson, New Materials Editor
Summer 1993 T.U.B.A. Journal

...one of the most exciting and enjoyable solo pieces to be composed in the last 30 years... Grant really knows what the tuba can do and exploits these capabilities with great results... first-class music that is also a top-notch virtuostic display... rapidly becoming to the 1990's what the Kraft Encounters II was to the 60's and 70's for tubists as a piece to measure oneself by...
-- Fritz Kaenzig
University of Michigan

Program notes

      Each of the Three Furies is virtuosic in its own right, offering a multiplicity of distinct rhythms, melodic figures and articulations:

Purchase information
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Quintet for Brass

2tpts in C, hn in F, tbn, tba; four mvts; ca. 12:30

QUINTET for BRASS has been recorded by the Iowa Brass Quintet and is available on their CD, "Americana: A University of Iowa Celebration." For further information or to order the CD, contact Kristin Thelander at the School of Music, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 52242.

Notices

... an exciting work of four movements that is charged with energy and momentum from the beginning... the freshest brass quintet sound this reviewer has ever heard... it has the daring of Eric Ewazen's Colchester Fantasy, the melodic gifts of John Cheetham's Brass Menagerie, and the intricacies of Jan Bach's Laudes all in one convenient package... Grant never resorts to gimmicks to achieve an effect... challenging but straightforward in standard notation... the score and parts are easy to read and Grant has thoughtfully configured the pages in each part to avoid awkward page turns.. . challenging, exciting... accessible to different kinds of audiences and gives enough back to the performer to make the effort worthwhile...
-- Mark Nelson, New Materials Editor
Winter 1996 T.U.B.A. Journal

Program notes

      The first movement, Greetings, assaults the listener with a blustery, urgent narrative featuring wild leaps in all of the instruments as they explore the full dynamic and pitch range of the brass quintet.

      The second movement, Holding Forth, is an arrangement for brass quintet of the genial second movements from "Three Furies for Tuba and Orchestra" (1995), a tuba concerto which in itself is an orchestral expansion of "Three Furies for Solo Tuba" (1993). The tuba "holds forth" in no uncertain terms, displaying a spirit both rambunctious and inebriated.

      The third movement, Changes, captures the spirit of the brass chorale expressed in the language of jazz.

      The final movement, Nuts, is marked "pretty damn crazy" and is just that.

      QUINTET for BRASS is the result of a consortium commission from three brass quintets: the Constitution Brass Quintet from Johnson, VT; the Millikin University Brass Quintet from Decatur, IL; and the University of Iowa Brass Quintet from Iowa City, IA. The music is dedicated with thanks to all fifteen musicians.

Purchase information
To request perusal score and recording, contact James Grant Music









Purchase and Rental Information

(sorry, no credit cards!)

Recordings

Orchestral Music of James Grant

Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra
Sebrina Maria Alfonso, conductor
Jeffrey Chappell, piano
To purchase the CD, send $17 to:
James Grant, 11 Henlopen Avenue, Rehoboth Beach, DE, 19971
or order by clicking here.
James Grant Music

Three Furies for Solo Tuba

Mark Nelson, tuba

On Mark Nelsonıs CD, Aboriginal Voices.

To purchase, send $17 to:
Mark Nelson, 18880 N. 94th Place, Scottsdale, AZ, 85255
or order by clicking here (sorry, no credit cards).
http://members.aol.com/mnelson921/record.htm

Quintet for Brass

Iowa Brass Quintet

Recorded on the Iowa Brass Quintetıs CD, "Americana: A University of Iowa Celebration"

To purchase, send $17 to:
Kristin Thelander, School of Music, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 52242
or order by clicking here (sorry, no credit cards).
kristin-thelander@uiowa.edu

A Change of Season

Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble
Song cycle on poems by Ann Barker, scored for cl, vln, vc, pno, perc, and mezzo-soprano.
To purchase, send $17 to:
Steven Klimowski, Artistic Director, VCME, PO Box 67, Fairfax, VT 05454-0067
or order by clicking here (sorry, no credit cards).
clarinet@together.net

Tocatta for piano

Michael Arnowitt, piano
Brief work for solo piano, on "Alive and Well," Ursa Minor Records
To purchase, http://maltedmedia.com/ursa/order.html