Bassoon Concerto for Orchestra – Against Indifference

November 28th, 2012

I would consider my bassoon concerto to be one of my best pieces. It began as a piece for piano and bassoon, but from the beginning I had plans to orchestrate it. It now works very well in both the piano and orchestral versions, has been reviewed by several bassoonists, and is a favorite among those who listen to my work. Any bassoonist looking for a new challenge to enjoy should most certainly download the free solo part and read through it. You, your accompanist(s), and your audience will love this piece.

Download solo part (free)
Download score and parts (PDF) ($139.99)
Download piano transcription (PDF) ($14.99)

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Sample Score
Sample Parts
Sample Piano transcription

Additional information:

Instrumentation: bassoon and orchestra (or piano)

Duration: 17:00

Performance notes: I highly recommend that the bassoon be amplified artificially.

This bassoon concerto was heavily influenced by two primary sources. Very few people know it, but John Williams writes fantastic music outside of the film industry. His bassoon concerto (Five Sacred Trees) is pretty much all that I listened to while I was working on this. The other source is actually from literature. Blaise Pascal, a 17th century French philosopher and mathematician, wrote a passionate argument against apathy for eternal matters; a philosophical discourse entitled “Against Indifference.”  Below is the title of each movement and a summary of the argument Pascal was making (the last one is my paraphrase):

Movement I, To the Apathetic

“But as for those who spend their lives without a thought for this final end of life and who, solely because they do not find within themselves the light of conviction, neglect to look elsewhere, and to examine thoroughly whether this opinion is one of those which people accept out of credulous simplicity or one of those which, though obscure in themselves, none the less have a most solid and unshakable foundation: as for them, I view them very differently.”

-Pascal

Movement II, A Lament for Doubt

“I can feel nothing but compassion for those who sincerely lament their doubt, who regard it as the ultimate misfortune, and who, sparing no effort to escape from it, make their search their principal and most serious business.”

-Pascal

Movement III, Search and Fruition

To live a life within the context of eternal existence gives us joy beyond our understanding. Seek this truth, and it will reveal itself to you.


Bassoon Concerto – Orchestral Version

November 24th, 2012

The long awaited orchestral version of my bassoon concerto, “Against Indifference”, is scheduled to be released on November 29 (next Thursday). The full recording will be rereleased as well, and both will be available here.

Of course there is a Facebook event associated with the recording. Join and invite if you’re excited about this!


Flute Solo – Consider the Lilies

May 30th, 2012

Writing this flute solo was the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity of facing the challenge of writing something that needed to be played by someone new to an instrument (Lily had been studying flute for about two years). This forced me to figure out ways to create sounds that were easily produced but were still new and interesting. What made the process much easier was the fact that Lily was already able to have a strong and full sound on the lower register of the flute (quite an accomplishment for her short time studying the instrument). So I focused on bringing out the contrast between the different registers while also creating complex harmonic implications to draw as much attention as possible to every sound being made throughout each line. This process yielded the opening melody, which reminded me of wind gently blowing across a field of flowers. Between that and Lily’s name, Matthew 6:28-30 (NIV) immediatly came to mind:

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

So I then wrote the rest of the flute solo based on the emotional process a person might go through when hearing Jesus’ words during a difficult time in life.

On Memorial Day, May 28, 2012, my wife’s high school flute student, Lily, premiered this flute solo. This premier performance can be viewed below:

Nothing I write is ever easy and this piece is no exception. Lily did a fantastic job of rising to the occasion! Hats of to her and my wife for working so hard in pulling it off so decisively!

Download score (PDF) $2.49
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While originally being written as a flute solo, Consider the Lilies (not so coincidentally) works very nicely for the alto saxophone as well! I’ve included a preview of the score in the sample below as well.

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Alto Saxophone Solo – Psalm 51

February 17th, 2012

This alto saxophone solo is a musical depiction of Psalm 51; a biblical text describing David’s sorrow over his sin. Using a concert A drone (from any source you want) to create harmonic tension and release throughout the solo, the music follows the same emotional path that the psalm does. It begins in lament and brokenness and slowly moves towards repentance, and restoration.

Download Score (PDF) ($2.99)
Download Recording (mp3) ($0.59)
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Below is the text off of which this alto saxophone solo is based:

Have mercy on me, O God,
   according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
   blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
   and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
   and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
   and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
   and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
   sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
   you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
   wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
   let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
   and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
   or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
   and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
   so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
   you who are God my Savior,
   and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
   and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
   you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
   a broken and contrite heart
   you, God, will not despise.

May it please you to prosper Zion,
   to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
   in burnt offerings offered whole;
   then bulls will be offered on your altar.

-Psalm 51 (NIV)

Wind Band – Shekinah

November 9th, 2011

Even while being mostly half and whole notes, this composition for wind band can be extremely challenging. The wide spacing of perfect intervals at exposed moments between instruments of different families demands that the wind band have an acute sense of intonation in order to have a pleasing performance. Also, in order for this wind band composition to be effective, it must be noted that the climax of the music is intended to be at mm. 21 and not at the very end. It cannot be stressed enough how massive the sound of the bass drums needs to be at that moment. If a cannon were practical I would have notated for that to be used as well (if you’re able to use one, feel free). By climax, I mean to say what will be perceived as the loudest and most exciting moment for the average listener. After this happens, the rest of the work is to sound so other-worldly that the strangeness causes discomfort and awe. The end can be taken as a climax of emotion and the other a climax of power.

Download Score and Parts (pdf) – $39.99
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The download includes 8.5×11 and 11×17 versions of the score.

Sample score and parts

This wind band composition is a programatic work based on the text of Exodus 33:18-21 in which Moses said to God “Now show me your glory.” God proceeded to hide Moses in the cleft of a rock, put his hand over Moses as he passed, and then allowed Moses see His back. The sound in the beginning depicts a distant radiance as the Almighty approached. When the sound becomes as big and radiant as possible, the massive bass drum hit is the hand of God coming down to hide Moses in the rock. This is followed by the full radiance of God seeping through the cracks between God’s hand and the rock as He passes by. At last, the end of the piece depicts God lifting his hand from the rock and letting Moses see His back. It would be an other-worldly and terrifying experience to perceive the holiness of God in this way.

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