A Mythological Suite

Grade 6-  |  Duration 13:45

A Mythological Suite
1.     Prologue
2.     Sasquatch
3.     Rainbow Snake
4.     Thunderbird
5.     Unicorn
6.     Imp
7.     Epilogue

Discussions with members of the Pavia Wind Quintet after their recital at St. Olaf College a few years ago led to the idea of creating a work this ensemble could use in their many performances for young people. The concept was to create a multi-movement work wherein each instrument could be featured in a solo capacity.

This recording is of the premiere performance by the Pavia Wind Quintet.

Pavia Wind Quintet

Throughout the history of human existence, there have been mysteries in the natural world that begged explanation. Often these were understood as being the result of the presence of creatures that lived at the outer edges of reality – what we now call mythological creatures. It didn’t take long to center the project on this collection of creatures — certainly interesting subject matter for young (and not so young) minds, full of drama and easily imagined adventures.

  • The Prologue sets a dramatic mood for the work and creates anticipation.
  • The Sasquatch was an interesting option to consider, as the existence of a “bigfoot” creature appears within cultures across the globe. In this movement, the clarinet takes on the role, hiding behind large rocks and tree trunks, almost imperceptible, offering only faint glimpses until eventually braving a brief and surprisingly playful revelation.
  • An Aboriginal Dreamtime creature, the Rainbow Snake was said to live in the watering holes, guarding them. At times, the creature (bassoon) would stretch out and travel to another watering hole, flooding the land. The storm’s ensuing rainbow is linked to the snake, and its arc shaped this music of this movement.
  • The soaring flight of the Thunderbird, found within many Native American cultures, was the bringer of thunder and lightning. Here the oboe embodies the creature, surveying the landscape before taking wing. At times, the Thunderbird would battle other creatures that were out to do harm.
  • The noble Unicorn, aptly sounded by the horn, also lives within the legends of many cultures. This elusive creature embodied grace and purity and it’s not surprising that its image can be found within the coat of arms of many nations.
  • The Imp is a small, mischievous creature originating in Germanic folklore that often plays tricks on others. Here the flute is given the chance to interrupt proceedings and flit about, gleefully having fun at the expense of the others.
  • An Epilogue brings the five musicians together to reflect on these mysterious creatures and then bring this dramatic narrative to a close with energetic music.

This activity is made possible by the generosity of the McKnight Foundation through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council. 

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