The Great River Rapid Chase came about from two different reasons. After growing up and living in my home state of Michigan for the majority of my life, I moved to New York City to pursue graduate-level academics. Although I can't deny there have been so many incredible experiences I've had here (and I wouldn't change that for anything), I also can't deny that, every now and again, I've felt a bit homesick for the incredible landscapes and sights that Michigan has to offer. Writing this piece was an opportunity for me to get back in touch with that part of nature that I've loved for so long now.
This piece was also an opportunity for me to exercise another goal: composing high-quality music for younger musicians that could equally be fun to listen to as well as perform. I sought to challenge the players, but not so much as to make the music difficult for all the wrong reasons. This led to further challenges of creating authentic contrasting shapes and new colors within a standardized form that, overall, I had a lot of fun exploring.
The Great River Rapid Chase is a short, fast-paced adventure relying on rhythmic grooves and a sense of determination to arrive towards a final destination. Think of fish swimming upstream in a raging river - sometimes with the currents, sometimes against them. What sort of predators and other dangers will they face?
From the composer -
"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 GREAT RIVER RAPID CHASE 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."