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"Avanti!": Composer and her work

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Video transcript

- I've known Ellen Zwilich I guess first as a violinist, not as a composer at all. When I was 18 and she was probably a similar age, we both played in the American Symphony together with Leopold Stokowski. In fact, Ellen was a wonderful violinist, and I got to know her quite well. We were very close friends. She actually produced one of the last recordings I ever made as a trumpet player. She wrote a trumpet quartet that, when I was teaching at Juilliard, I had some of my students play. I've premiered a lot of pieces of hers over the years, and she's remained a dear friend all these years. So clearly, when I was interested in asking composers I've known for a long time to write pieces for my last year's music director of the Seattle Symphony, I asked Ellen. - The piece I wrote called Avanti! is taken from a larger piece of mine called Fanfare Reminiscence and Celebration, and that piece actually has 18 offstage brass players. So I compressed the score a bit, and I added a little bit of this and that to the Fanfare movement, and I thought Avanti! was really a good name for a piece for Jerry 'cause Jerry will be jumping into the next thing with both feet, you know. - Avanti! Move on. Move on to the next chapter. Let's get going, and that's how well she knows me. (upbeat music) - I'm against the idea of telling somebody, "Listen for this, or listen for that." I prefer the open ear, the willing ear it's sometimes called. You start a piece. Now, the curiosity should lead the listener what's gonna happen next? (upbeat music) When I'm writing a piece for orchestra, I always have a full score in front of me. I do all my sketching on full score. Now, maybe I'll change, I'll add an instrument or take one away or something, but I like to have the feeling of this whole orchestra sitting in front of me, and now that I work on computers, I still do it that way exactly. All my sketches are on the full score. (upbeat music) I just love writing instrumental music, and I love writing for orchestra because it's so... I mean, I always say the orchestra's like a jellyfish. It's not a single organism. It's a collection of organisms that sort of magically work together, and just the beauty of the way the jellyfish moves, and when you think about it, it's not one thing, but it registers as one thing, and that's that marvelous moment where everything sort of gels, and the orchestra becomes one giant thing, larger than the sum of the parts. (upbeat music)