Frank Ticheli’s Symphony No. 3 (Music of the Day)
Today I'm listening to Frank Ticheli's Third Symphony. Its a fairly recent work (premiered in 2013) that I think most people don't realize exists. The wind ensemble people ignored it because it is for orchestra and chorus. And the "academic" composers ignored it because it's Frank Ticheli. And the performers ignored it because its contemporary music (joking, but only kind of).
This piece is a gorgeous work in four movements for orchestra and chorus. Like most of Ticheli's music this work falls firmly into the American tradition that we associate with Aaron Copland. Lots of open, lush harmonies with an orchestration that does not take a lot of risks but is incredibly appealing in its warmth. In the liner notes for the recording of the piece Ticheli writes:
“Sea images figure prominently in both the poetry and the music, as well as a rich palette of moods evoked by the sea: playfulness, awe, terror, and ultimately, calm and tranquility. A life journey unfolds, from innocent childhood, through young adulthood and crisis, and finally to redemption.”
Anybody who knows me knows that I am not particularly partial to choral music but I think Ticheli really uses the orchestra and chorus to create a wide range of textures and harmonic palettes. Definitely recommended listening for anybody who wants something more on the “accessible” end of the new music spectrum.
To me Ticheli has always been a composer who I feel my friends and colleagues overlook because of his focus on wind ensemble music and educational music at that. But I think we are often too quick to dismiss composers who are stylistically outside of our own interests. Ticheli has a lot to offer and I believe this piece demonstrates that. His craftsmanship is impeccable with a clarity of line, timbre, and orchestration that much music struggles to achieve. Whether he is pushing the aesthetic boundaries of music is an altogether different discussion but one cannot deny his mastery of the craft of composition in this work.
I have included the first movement of the symphony here, but the full recording is available from Delos Music and can be found on any standard streaming service.