Song for the Skies was commissioned by Tuba virtuoso Les Neish and was given its world premier on the December 9th 2010 with the James Madison University Brass Band in Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA.
Les asked me to compose a slow melody that highlights the wonderful sonorous sound of the Tuba. I am a big fan of Les and of the instrument and knowing the capabilities of Les as a soloist I wanted to experiment with the range and colour of the instrument in this solo.
After a warm introduction from the ensemble the soloist enters almost timeless over the muted cornets. The melody when it is first heard has a somewhat haunting Celtic feel to it. It is intentionally marked as con rubato so that the soloist can really put their own musical stamp on the music. As the haunting melody repeats again this time in a change of key the accompaniment takes more of a role within the piece of music performing counter melodies within this second section.
The middle of the piece introduces a new secondary melodic device that serves as an introduction to the original melody played in all its glory by the ensemble. This dies away to leave the second half of the melody in the euphoniums and baritones as the soloist plays a soaring counter melody in the highest register of the instrument.
The piece starts to return home with a recapitulation of the introduction followed by the second part of the original melody by the soloist. After a momentary reflective solo from the soloist the introduction is used for a final time before the tuba guides us home to conclude.
For the soloist, there are a number of occasions where the opportunity to play in the upper register of the instrument arises. However, I have also given the opportunity for the soloist to play various passages down the octave so it suits the performers playing style and range.
Song for the Skies is very simple yet beautiful and I feel it suits the playing of the Eb Tuba perfectly. I hope you enjoy performing it.