Symphony No. 3 "The Bridges of Dallas (2017)
Composed July - October 2017, in 4 movements
Commissioned by the New Texas Symphony Orchestra
for 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes (2nd doubles english horn), 2 Clarinets, Bass Clarinet, 2 Bassoons, 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Tuba, Timpani, Percussion, Harp and Strings.
New Texas Symphony Orchestra; Dr. Kathryn D. Brownlee conducting - June 24, 2018
New Texas Symphony Orchestra; Dr. Kathryn D. Brownlee conducting - October 22, 2023
When Cathy Brownlee, artistic director of the New Texas Symphony Orchestra, approached me about creating a new work based on 4 notable bridges in Dallas, I was beyond excited and sort of intimidated. Here was an opportunity to write about a wonderful and beautiful city. I grew up in Dallas and know the city quite well. The challenge lay in capturing the aura of this city as well as creating convincing portraits of four majestic bridges.
The symphony is structured in something I call a day sequence. The first movement takes place from morning to mid-day; the second movement begins at mid-day to afternoon and the third and fourth movements takes us from evening until nighttime.
The first movement, entitled Margaret McDermott bridge, is a grand yet sensitive portrait. The theme introduced at the very beginning by the four horns in unison serve as a leitmotif to represent all the bridges and will be heard in different forms throughout all 4 movements. The first movement begins slowly, gradually adding more instruments, representing the increasing activity on the bridge which takes shape in the allegro. The middle section is reflective of the splendor of the bridge until we pick it up yet again.
The second movement is a serious yet amusing portrait of Klyde Warren park, a pedestrian bridge. Multiple woodwinds have solos that play with and interact with each other, in addition to featured percussion instruments such as bass drum, xylophone and woodblock. Another ‘reflection’ section follows in the middle in the movement, with solos for the English horn, French horn and clarinet. The movements then picks up energy yet again and gives us a final ‘play’ section. We keep this mood until the end of the movement.
The third movement takes place on the Ron Kirk Bridge in the evening time and gives us a romantic and thoughtful picture of the pedestrian bridge. One can imagine a sunset in the background as we take a stroll along during a warm and conformable evening. This movement leads directly into the fourth movement, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. This features the harp, because the structure of the bridge itself reminds me of the harp. In composing this movement, I tried to imagine what kind of music would come out of the bridge if someone were to play it like a harp. The symphony ends with a grand restatement of the horn theme from the first movement.
In composing this work, I’ve decided that this is not only a symphony about landmarks in Dallas; It’s a work that reflects the soul of Dallas itself.