INDIANA CONCERTO FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA
1. A Spirited Farewell, by Dr. Louis W. Ballard, Arr. by Brent Michael Davids
2. Music Box Manitou, by Brent Michael Davids
3. Stomp Dance For Louis, by Brent Michael Davids
Indiana Concerto for Piano and Orchestra functions as a suite, where the first movement, written by the late Louis W. Ballard, is followed by two movements composed in his honor by Brent Michael Davids.
A composer of Quapaw and Cherokee lineage, Dr. Louis Wayne Ballard (July 8, 1931 February 9, 2007) dedicated his life to Native American music and musicians. At the time of Dr. Ballards passing, he was in the midst of completing the first movement of a new work for internationally-renown pianist Emanuele Arciuli and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. After some investigation and consideration, pianist Arciuli and conductor Mario Venzago offered composer Brent Michael Davids the opportunity to complete Dr. Ballards Indiana Concerto with the blessings of Dr. Ballards family. Davids was a longtime colleague and personal friend of the late Dr. Ballard, in a musical friendship lasting nearly 29 years until Dr. Ballards passing. In addition to completing Movement 1, A Spirited Farewell, Davids, also of American Indian descent, composed two companion movements to honor Dr. Ballard, Music Box Manitou and Stomp Dance For Louis. Together, these three movements pay tribute to the artistry of Native American composer Stands With Eagles Dr. Louis W. Ballard and his great contributions to the world of music.
A Spirited Farewell, titled posthumously by Davids, is the final and uplifting work of Dr. Louis W. Ballard. Indiana denotes the "Land of the Indians," and the first movement of his Indiana Concerto moves with the strength and authority of a seasoned composer who was also an expert of American Indian music. A melodic main theme opens the movement with a stream of pounding and repeating notes, occasionally differentiated by a brisk three-note descending motif that distinguishes itself as both embellishment and harmonic punctuation. As if paddling Indianas Wabash River, intriguing surges of piano and orchestra push forward with a complex undercurrent of orchestral color. Splashes of strings, winds and brass highlight the stirring melody, as percussive rattles and glistening piano flourishes ride the progression to a satisfying conclusion. The result is positively uplifting, and sparkles with the life-affirming confidence and conviction so generously characterized by Dr. Ballard himself.
The second movement, Music Box Manitou, is an aural reminiscence of Dr. Ballards life, composed by Brent Michael Davids. This movement is composed in two layers, one of remembrance and one of passage. The top layer spotlights the piano as a giant music box full of memories, while the orchestra layer travels the vigorous road of Dr. Ballards life. Together, these two layers evoke a musical whisper of his manitou or power. The main theme is heard almost sporadically throughout the music box piano, but also mingles with the orchestra at various places of lightness and shadow. The central theme is high-spirited and dramatic, but also accentuated by a recurring three-note motif that recalls Dr. Ballards first movement. As enchanting piano diapasons emerge above and below the orchestral journey, an absorbing mysteriousness envelopes the wood and metal instruments like ceremonial prayer smoke. Sustained tones bending upwards and sliding downward in the strings and bassoons suggest the slow inhaling and exhaling of the manitou, as the piano scampers along with the lyric fervor of a master storyteller. The relationship of piano, orchestra and Dr. Ballards commemoration blend in a union of music and reflection.
Composed by Davids as the piano concertos final movement, Stomp Dance For Louis honors Dr. Ballard with a pianistic stomp dance, holding with the Cherokees traditional dance of reverence. The Cherokee stomp dance usually follows a stickball game, with many leg rattle rhythms serenading the ceremonial grounds as the dancers pound the earth with their feet. Highly rhythmic in nature, this particular stomp dance begins with a slow and swinging triplet beat that almost immediately transforms into a duple two beat pattern. As the piano initiates this stomp dance transformation, the piano is akin to the lead singer who guides the other stomp dancers along. The orchestra soon joins in the musical dance, following the pianos lead, and all gradually increase in speed. By mid-movement, in a moment of percussive cerebration, the piano pounds out urgent rhythms on the lower keys, quickly joined by timpani, drums and brass accents, as the rhythm intensifies. Leading ultimately into the closing restatement of the triplet-to-duple theme, the piano dashes onward and ascends to a lively conclusion. Indiana Concerto for Piano and Orchestra was commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for pianist Emanuele Arciuli.
BRENT MICHAEL DAVIDS, Composer, is an enrolled citizen of the Mohican Nation. Davids career spans over 30 years, including awards from ASCAP, NEA, Rockefeller Foundation, In-Vision, Joffrey Ballet, Chanticleer, Kronos Quartet, Meet-The-Composer, Miró Quartet, National Symphony Orchestra, Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and Jerome Foundation. Davids holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music Composition from Northern Illinois University and Arizona State University respectively, trained at Redfords Sundance Institute, and apprenticed with film composer Stephen Warbeck (Shakespeare In Love) on the TV-Miniseries Dreamkeeper (Hallmark and ABC). Davids has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, PBS and NAPT. Davids film scores include: The 1920 Classic Myth: The Last of the Mohicans, The World of American Indian Dance, The Silent Enemy and Bright Circle. In 2006, the NEA named Davids among the nations 29 most celebrated choral composers in its project American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius, in all 50 states. Davids most recent commission, Indiana Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, was commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for the internationally-renown pianist Emanuele Arciuli.