Sundown on South Street from Philadelphia Stories (2001)
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  • Sundown on South Street

4 flutes (I=piccolo), 2 oboes, english horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon; 4 horns, 4 trumpets; timpani, 4 percussion; 2 harps, guitar; organ or synthesizer; strings

Boosey and Hawkes, Hendon Music (BMI)

7 minutes

World Premiere

Program Note
Sundown on South Street (2001) for orchestra

In Sundown on South Street, I recreate the mood of walking down one of the most popular streets of Philadelphia where one finds numerous cafes, used book stores, ethnic restaurants, nightclubs and musicians from all walks of life. The many generations of musicians who lived in Philadelphia and have walked down this musical street over the years include John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Fabian, Pearl Bailey, Eddie Fisher, Al Martino, Chubby Checker, James Darren, Mario Lanza, The Four Aces, Grover Washington, Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, Dizzy Gillespie, Jim Croce, Sun Ra, Gerry Mulligan, Teddy Pendergrass, and Patti LaBelle. In the 1980s, I too was a frequent visitor to South Street. I played jazz piano and experimental electronic music in various nightspots, and saw concerts by Sun Ra and his Arkestra. In this movement, I bring together memories of all these Philadelphia musicians, known and unknown, in a tightly structured, polytonal, polyrhythmic groove.

Sundown on South Street begins with lush string melodies and glissing guitar chords evoking the soulful 1970s "Philadelphia Sound" created by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. A pulsating woodblock suggests the snapping fingers of 1950s teenagers strutting down South Street. As nighttime approaches, I introduce a cool, jazzy tune in muted brass, doubled in octaves by clarinets and flutes. This melody is punctuated in B flat major-minor by lower woodwinds, marimba, guitar, and pizzicato contrabass. Transposed to C major-minor, the polyrhythmic syncopation continues in the lower brass, timpani, and percussion (wood blocks, cymbals, and claves). The melody then unfolds as a triple musical canon heard in strings, brass, and upper woodwinds. After a dramatic return to the opening chords, the listener arrives at a vibrant musical street carnival where the
Sun-Ra inspired polytonal sounds of South Street grow louder and louder as the movement progresses. Dynamite trombones and tuba, funky trumpets and horns, snappy strings and woodwinds, strumming guitar, and lively Latin percussion such as bongos, go-go bells, vibraslap, and maracas bring the movement to a rousing conclusion.

For more information on Michael Daugherty' music visit:
Boosey & Hawkes
Peermusic Classical
Faber Music
American Composers Forum
Michael Daugherty Music