The Floodgates of the Sky takes its title from The Book of Genesis in the Holy Bible. Specifically, the verse is as follows: "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened" (Genesis 7:11, NASV).
Although I don't consider myself to be a very religious person today, I had spent much of my early childhood years going to church with my family and studying the Scripture. I have always been fascinated with the more epic qualities of the Bible, entranced by its striking imagery juxtaposed with the elements of its serious teachings. For me, it is almost impossible to imagine the wrath unleashed when, at certain points in the Bible, the people go against the Word of God and continue to sin. These memories led me back to one well-known story of the Bible, one which ultimately became the foundation for this piece - Noah's Ark.
Here, I chose to focus on one particular moment of the story. Noah has just completed the ark, with two of each and every animal on board. He and his family have also boarded this vessel, in anticipation of God's intent to flood the earth of every living thing. Although He will protect Noah, his family, and everything else on the ark, the wrath of His oncoming storm is vicious and merciless. Panic, terror, and fear ensues upon the earth as everyone left behind begins to suffer His wrath. Their cries and pleas are ignored by God, who is tired of humanity's inherent wickedness. In the end, after 40 days and 40 nights, He stops the flood and promises that such a storm will never occur again, symbolically represented in the form of a rainbow.
The wrath of this storm, along with the imagination of the sheer savagery behind it, became the emotional foundation for The Floodgates of the Sky. An ostinato drives the storm, accompanied by alarming brass, sweeping woodwind figures, bombastic percussion, and constant rhythmic activity maintained in other parts of the ensemble. Emotional moments that appear within the music are even swept away by this incessant, percussive energy.
This work cannot encompass the true horror of this singular moment within the Bible. But, perhaps it can capture an inkling of what happens in the story, realizing that after the worst of the flood is over, a promise will be made and all good things will come from it.
From the composer -
"When I originally wrote this work in 2016, I was captivated by the imagery of this awe-inspiring, horrifying storm presented in the Noah's Ark story. For years, The Floodgates of the Sky had existed only in its orchestral form. In 2020, I was thrilled to see this piece transformed through a brilliant transcription created for wind ensemble by composer Harrison J. Collins. Now, this music undergoes another transformation in this arrangement for 6-part adaptable ensemble.
The heart and spirit of both the original orchestral version and Harrison's wind ensemble transcription are combined into this new arrangement. Parts from both of these versions remain largely the same wherever possible. Other sections have been reworked where needed to allow this version of the piece to be made suitable for practically any performance situation. Backing tracks are also included, to be used if needed as a substitute for the optional parts (bass guitar, piano, strings, and percussion).
I am delighted to present this new version of The Floodgates of the Sky for adaptable ensemble."
"If possible, don't be afraid to experiment with different instrumental combinations when performing this work! These experimentations can be used as a learning tool for you and your performers for how color and texture can change with even the smallest difference in orchestration (example: have the flutes play alone at a particular passage, then clarinets or saxophones, then a combination of these families. What are the differences in timbre? Does it affect the mood or emotion of the piece, and if so, how?). Use this piece, in that regard, as an endless sea of experimentation and creative possibilities for you and your performers.
With all of this in mind, this arrangement of THE FLOODGATES OF THE SKY should be used as an opportunity to demonstrate how music isn't just chord progressions, electronic samples, heavy-metal grooves, or even just simply dots on a page. It's how that music is brought to life with what we have available; what we can create from it; how decisions of musical intent, listening to each other, and hearing these new sounds/colors/textures can impact our perceptions of the piece; and finally, how we can use these skills for any performance situation, no matter what the instrumentation, style, or genre may be."