Adam Gorb Premieres in 2010

Three Gorb Premires

I have always suggested that Adam Gorb is one of the great light music composers of our time, with a flair for memorable gestures, flirting with jazz, Klezmer and simply good tunes, His Concertino for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble is the third major work premiered in 2010, following The War of the Worlds in March and Eternal Voices in November. Adam, in my view, is one of the leading composers of today working regularly with bands and wind ensembles, working also with the whole range of expertise from school band to professional. What he does even in his big populist "band" pieces like Yiddish Dances, or Dances from Crete, is to treat the group like a huge chamber ensemble, and give responsibility to individual players and sections, with a varied phrase structure and complex rhythms which try and tease players and audience - and conductors!

Giles Easterbrook wrote of him:
International recognition came in 1994 with the US Walter Beeler Prize for his work Metropolis. With it began what has developed into probably the most important wind ensemble catalogue by a contemporary composer, ranging from extremely challenging to the most accessible, at all technical levels, seized on by players internationally, widely recorded and now absolutely central to the world's wind repertoire. Equally important though are his works for dance, and concert pieces like the chamber orchestral Weimar, the Violin Sonata , a Clarinet Concerto for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Diaspora for strings (for the Goldberg Ensemble). Deceptively mainstream at first glance, they display the same inventive brilliance, pulsating sound world, striking use of rhythm and an undogmatic absence of stylistic hang-ups to embrace jazz and serialism in works where power, poetry, irony and pathos, often underlaid by a theatrical and deeply subversive element, coalesce in an integrated, highly individual musical voice. Gorb is also not afraid to draw on the vivid musical heritage of his Jewish roots, sometimes directly, often in a more subsumed or radically creative way. The crucial and consistent feature of Gorb's work though is that it communicates strongly without patronising players or audiences. He firmly believes that if contemporary music - any music - does not impact on listeners then its message is irrelevant; it is lost.


Conductor - Michael Purton
St. John's Smith Square, London, Sunday 7th March 2010

Download ADAM GORB War of the Worlds.MP3

The War of the Worlds was commissioned by Bromley Youth service as a tribute to HG Wells, who for a long time lived in the Borough. It is a twenty minute tone poem, strongly pictorial. A miasma of chordal clusters for muted set the scene, out of which emerge rising arpeggio figures for clarinets, solos too for flute and bassoon with a rolling line in the basses which sounds a little like a chaconne. The Clarinet arpeggio dissolves onto the strike of a bell and an off-stage trombone - shades of Mahler - strikes terror. Bedlam ensues with ostinato figures hurled around over a walking bass line with an ominously ticking woodblock. The mood changes dramatically to muted brass chords slowly moving under solos for piccolo and later celeste. Another episode develops, as the saxophones, in this premiere wearing chancy headpieces like men from Mars, slowly wend their way through the audience, to be met by defiant chords and jagged patterning from high wind and low brass. The fight is on, a fleet scherzando , athletically leaping from bottom to top of the wind orchestra until the entire orchestra thunders out a terrifying passage in parallel discords. The men from Mars are left defeated, weeping in downward glissandi, with heartfelt elegiac passage for solo oboe which in turn develops into a moving lyrical section for the woodwind, set against horns and later low brass, with a final stentorian intonation from the bass trombone, a confident soloist as were all the principals in this extremely fine wind orchestra at the premiere.

Concertino for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble

Northampton County Youth Concert Band
Conductor Peter Smalley
Saxophone soloist Tim Watson,Conductor Peter Smalley Saxophone soloist Tim Watson,
Friday 17th December 2010, St. Matthews Church Northampton

Andante - andante moderato - allegro - andante - allegro

Download ADAM GORB Saxophone Concertino

The Concertino opens with a cadenza like passage featuring a typical rising gesture accompanied by low brass chords, ushering in the first main theme a languorous waltz, alternating triple time with duple. The mood changes to a fleet allegro scherzando in a mix of 4/4 and 7/8, with virtuoso runs for the saxophone over crisp rhythmic ostinati in the brass with melodic counter material in the wind, breaking out into tutti outburst with some dramatic harmonic shifts and one of Gorb's crazy walking, or rather, running bass lines. Another shift of tempo, and under muted brass chords, the opening gesture is heard, again andante as an introduction to a slow, blues section with prominent solos for the baritone saxophone. The fourth section is a return to the scherzando material with typical Gorb shifts of metre and syncopations, culminating in a short cadenza, a brief tutti section returning to the waltz material before a final fast loud coda section.

Eternal Voices

Adam Gorb, Ben Kaye - For Narrator, soloists, Chorus and Wind ensemble

Performance of Eternal Voices by Adam Gorb

On November 20, 2010 a moving new work for Narrator, Soloists, Chorus and Wind Ensemble was premiered in Exeter Cathedral in the UK to critical acclaim. ETERNAL VOICES is Adam Gorb's (composer) and Ben Kaye's (librettist) tribute to the men and women who have been injured or given their lives in the Afghanistan conflict. The piece is described as "an exploration of the shattered lives behind recent headlines"

ETERNAL VOICES by Adam Gorb and Ben Kaye will be published by Maecenas and available on sale in January 2011 full score, vocal score and wind ensemble parts.

The work is some thirty five minutes long, in five movements, each movement prefaced by a narration, in the world premiere given by the celebrated broadcaster, Sir Trevor Macdonald. The words are drawn from news bulletins about the war and the casualties in Afghanistan, the part played there by the Royal Marines, and they include moving excerpts from the war diary of a serviceman Lieutenant John Thornton who served with 40 Commando was killed by an IED in Helmand province in 2008.