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Program Notes

Dark City: Transcendence was commissioned by the Cape Elizabeth, Maine, High School Wind Symphony, Mr. Tom Lizotte, Director, and takes its inspiration from the influential 1927 German science fiction film, Metropolis, one of Tom’s favorite films.

The film, Metropolis, is set in a futuristic urban dystopia that contrasts a highly stylized futuristic city where a beautiful and cultured utopia exists above a bleak underworld populated by mistreated workers. The wealthy industrialists live off the fat of the land, supported by the workers living under the city, who endure a bare-bones existence of back breaking work. The story concerns a forbidden love between Freder, the wealthy son of the city’s master, and Maria, a teacher, saintly figure to the workers, and rebellious activist who preaches against the divide between the two classes. When the privileged youth, Freder, discovers the grim scene under the city, he becomes intent on helping the workers. He befriends Maria, but this puts him at odds with his authoritative father, leading to greater conflict. Tension continually increases. There is deception and deceit involving a robot duplicate of Maria that leads to a revolution of the workers against the industrialists. The explosion of a massive heart machine under the city, eventual destruction of the robot Maria, and flooding of the underground spell disaster for the city. At the end of the film, the statement, “Everyone is finally equal,” is left for the audience to ponder.

Tom asked for a composition that would reflect the moods and story of Metropolis. My process for doing that was to take the approach of a film music composer. Using several scenes as visual motivation that parallel the chronology of the film, I wrote a short musical score for those.

The sections of the piece contain the following descriptions and use different themes – except for the end, which restates a variation of the opening theme – and encompass a range of moods, including foreboding trouble, boldness, somberness, majesty, melancholy sweetness, and intense, driving energy:
• Main title – Metropolis panorama
• The great future industrial city of light
• Workers march to the dark underground
• The divide between the industrialists and workers
• Forbidden love – Maria and Freder
• Subterfuge – robot duplicate of Maria
• Revolution of the workers
• The Heart Machine explodes
• Workers’ underground city floods
• The robot Maria is destroyed
• “Everyone is finally equal?”

This piece has not been performed yet.

 

Instrumentation

Piccolo
Flute 1 & 2
Oboe 1 & 2
Bassoon 1 & 2
Bb Clarinet 1, 2, 3
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Alto Saxophone 1 & 2
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Bb Trumpet 1, 2, 3
F Horn 1, 2, 3, 4
Trombone 1, 2, 3
Euphonium
Tuba
Piano

6 Percussion:

 

Timpani

 

Percussion 1:
Bells, Snare Drum, Marching Machine, Suspended Cymbal, Triangle (on stand), Sleigh Bells (on stick)

 

Percussion 2:
Crash Cymbals, Suspended Cymbal, Xylophone, Bongos, Large Tom tom, Tambourine, Bells (use player 1’s if needed)

 

 

Percussion 3:
Chimes, Marimba, Triangle, Slapstick, Tambourine, Wood Block, Suspended Cymbal

 

Percussion 4:
Suspended Cymbal, Bass Drum (share w/Perc. 5), Vibraphone, Slit Drums; also need bass bow for Vibes

 

Percussion 5:
Suspended Cymbal, Tam tam, Snare Drum, 4 Tom toms, Bass Drum (share w/Perc. 4); also need bass bow for Sus. Cymbal

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