Heroes & Villains, Op. 7(r)
Heroes & Villains, Op. 7(r)
for Wind Ensemble (22.214.171.124.4, 126.96.36.199.1, T+4, Pno., Cb./E. Bass)
Opus 7(r), 2010, rev. 2021
To be recorded by John Zastoupil and the Missouri State University Wind Ensemble
- Heroes - Villains - Heroes - Villains00:00
Superheroes. Supervillains. Superpowers. Supercool gadgets.
Sinister plots. Alter egos.
And epic battles of good versus evil.
Our imaginations are powerfully drawn to the hero archetype—whether historical, legendary, mythical, or fictionalized.
“Heroes & Villains” celebrates the hero’s journey with a dramatic cinematic soundscape that may well be the soundtrack to your favorite hero story. It tells a story, but the piece is not programmatic. Allow the music to ignite your imagination as you visualize your own storyline.
Structurally, the piece is in a quasi sonata-allegro form, which traditionally takes us on a journey. It has a somewhat “classical” exposition, development, recapitulation, and coda. Listen for the various themes of the exposition... the exploration of different key centers and the fragmentation of themes in the development... the triumphant return of the principle themes in the recapitulation, as well as the contrapuntal combination of two of them... and finally, the exciting, rousing coda to cap it all off!
History of the Work
Heroes & Villains began over 20 years ago as a student composition for orchestra under the very uninspired title of Orchestral Sketch No. 1. It was a valiant student effort, and had some good material—most of which made it, in some form, into this final version of Heroes & Villains. At the time, my dream was to become a film composer, and I put all my hopes and aspirations into the work.
The (Southwest) Missouri State University Orchestra performed my Orchestral Sketch No. 1 in the Spring of 2000, which provided a wonderful learning opportunity for a developing composer. It was my first large ensemble work, and would otherwise be designated Opus 1 if I still considered that early work as part of my catalog.
Several years later, then living in Los Angeles, I began my first foray into writing for band and wind ensemble, and I decided to revise, adapt, and rename my Orchestral Sketch to the more evocative and fitting Heroes & Villains. This was around 2010, and my Opus 7 designation comes from this timeframe, though it has changed a lot since then, going through about 3 different significant revisions in the intervening years.
The 2010 version won a couple of small competitions, including the 2010 Penfield Music Commission Project Composition Contest and was premiered by the Penfield High School Wind Ensemble on May 27, 2010 under the direction of James Doser. It also won the 2011 Cal-State Bakersfield Composition Composition and was performed by the Cal-State Bakersfield Community Concert Band that same year.
Despite the positive feedback, I still felt the work could be better. But due to other projects, I allowed the piece to gather dust on my hard drive for several more years. During that time (in 2011), I had the opportunity to score a short film entitled Malice, about a 12-year-old girl who aspires to be a super-villain. (Spoiler alert: she later decides to be a hero instead!) The filmmakers loved the audio from my Orchestral Sketch No. 1 / Heroes & Villains, and wanted me to write something along those lines. The resulting theme for Malice fit so perfectly with Heroes & Villains, and gave me further ideas for development, that I knew I had to incorporate it into the piece. This is the first thematic section up to bar 29. None of that material (nor later references to it) existed in the 2010 version of the work.
But life—as it sometimes does—took another direction, and I spent a few years in Mexico (plus one on cruise ships) as a performing musician. I hardly composed at all during that time, but did do a lot of jazz arranging. Then, in 2019, after moving to Dallas, I finally created the new Heroes & Villains. But it wasn’t until finishing my Master’s in Composition from Southern Methodist University two years later, that I had the experience— as well as valuable feedback from Dr. Jack Delaney, the director of the Meadows Wind Ensemble—to take one more look at the work, and revise it for playability, clarity of notation, and refinement of orchestration, as well as completely re-engraving it in Dorico.
At last, I consider this piece done. I believe it fulfills my intention to write a good solid piece that is cinematically inspired, evokes powerful imagery, is approachable by really good high school ensembles, and is loads of fun to work on and perform. I'm not an expert at grading music, but I believe it sits somewhere between a Grade 4 or Grade 5 work. It has its challenges, but nothing insurmountable for good, developing musicians.