About the piece
Life is full of many moments. Some great and some not-so-great. When thinking of these moments, we learn to appreciate how they shaped us and changed our lives. “Reflections” is about taking moments from Dr. Russell Coleman’s life and reflecting on how they shaped his life. But more importantly, is about how he impacted the lives of thousands of students and colleagues that have come to know him through his time at the University of Central Missouri (UCM).
“Reflections” pulls from things that had a profound impact on Russell’s life. From his relationship with composer Claude T. Smith, to his historic tenure as Director of Bands at UCM. The piece incorporates snippets from “Dance Prelude” by Claude T. Smith, the UCM Alma Mater, and the UCM Fight Song. The piece draws influences from these sources and culminates in a grand celebration and flourish.
Background – by Robert Langenfeld
One day in early January 2018, I had received a phone call from Pam Smith-Kelly about a couple of clarinet quintets I was engraving for her. During our call she had brought up that Russ Coleman was turning 90 this year and she was trying to figure out something special to help celebrate it. I had a break in my composing schedule, so I brought up the idea of writing a piece for him. She said she liked the idea and told me we would talk more.
Fast forward to MMEA 2018 and she introduced me to Dr. Anthony Purcell. We all talked about the piece and he wanted to premier it at MBA 2018 that summer. Plenty of time for me to write it. We also decided to keep it a surprise for him. The tricky part was that it would be his community band premiering it and we wanted to keep it a surprise. I’d give the piece a fake title and composer and we would do the real reveal for him at MBA that summer.
As I sat down to write the piece, I found myself struggling to find inspiration to write the piece. It wasn’t until I started listening to a lot of Claude Smith’s music that I found inspiration for how the piece would ultimately sound. I would draw from Claude’s unique style of mixed meters with my own personal flair of orchestration and melodies. My ultimate goal was to conclude the piece with a full statement of UCM’s “Alma Mater” without much modification.
I composed the piece in about 2 months time and threw a surprise ending for Pam. When I played her back the midi file, she had the biggest smile on her face and said it was perfect and I shouldn’t change it anymore.
Ensembles: Concert Band