In October 2012, international media was gripped by the super-storm which ripped across the USA. With winds exceeding 100 mph, Hurricane Sandy claimed 253 lives, and left over $65bn of damage. It was these haunting scenes that inspried this piece of music.
DEVASTATION - Although this piece is continuous, the work is broken down into three easily identifiable sections. From the outset, the fast, brash nature of the storm is portrayed in the clashing cornet effect, with interjections from lower brass and percussion. Suddenly, amidst all the mayhem, a moment of tranquility, in the eye of the storm. Despite the chaotic scenes surrounding it (the staccatto figures in muted troms/cornets), the main melancholy theme of the piece appears for the first time here in the solo horn line. The original cornet/trom effect returns as the hurricane re-emerges in it's full, devastating form, tearing buildings to shreds.
DESPAIR - The middle section of this piece is a homage to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. There are various cadenzas for Euphonium, Cornet, Eb Bass, Horn and Vibraphone, each acting as a lone voice, praying, crying, hoping. A calm, static opening to this section depicts a barren and empty landscape, torn apart by the harsh winds and rain, with no human life to be seen for miles. The following build-up and theme is what the entire piece is both based on, and centred around. This section is the real emotional heart of the piece and acts as a lament to those that lost their lives. I try to include a sense of warmth and togetherness, as the communities try to rebuild after the storm has passed. The harsh reality of the devastation reccurs towards the end of this section however, and the despairing solo voices come to the fore once more.
DETERMINATION - The final movement of the piece has an underlying sense of hope. Scenes from the aftermath of the hurricane were as memorable as the footage of the storm itself. Despite this, there always lies a poignant reminder of what they have ahd to endure (using quotations from earlier material from the first 2 movements). It is essential for the piece to always feel a sense of moving forward, just like the communities following this devastation.
As a musical work, 'Out of the Storm Clouds' relies heavily on effectes within the music. It is key to the overall performance that these areas (such as the recurring cornet/trom section first heard at the start) and similar passages are not treated like technical exercises, and conductor's should work the music to it's best effect in their eyes. Likewise, the slower music could be easy (in particular in the cadenzas) to become stale. Equally important is the sense of flow from the first note to the last.