Songs of the Open Road for Oboe, French Horn and Orchestra | Michael Daugherty, composer

Songs of the Open Road
for oboe, French horn and orchestra (2024)

Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeida, oboe
William Caballero, French horn

  1.  Big Sur  (Pacific Highway 1, California)
  2. Continental Divide  (Highway 82, Colorado)
  3. Sleeping Bear  (Highway 22, Michigan)
  4. Desilu  (Highway 394, Jamestown, New York)
  5. Blue Ridge  (Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia to North Carolina)
  6. Key West  (Overseas Highway 1, Florida)

World Premiere: Songs of the Open Road for Oboe, French Horn and Orchestra was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeida, oboe and William Caballero, French horn. The double concerto will be premiered in Heinz Hall on June 7, 2024, conducted by Manfred Honeck.

Composer’s Note:

Since Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road,” the American road trip has been celebrated by many writers and musicians. Over the years I too have driven many miles across the country, reflecting on the endless possibilities of the open road to inspire my compositions. Songs of the Open Road is a musical exploration of this American experience, weaving together themes of adventure and nostalgia in six colorful movements:

    1. Big Sur
      (Pacific Highway 1, California)

Our road trip begins at Big Sur on the coast of California, driving high above the rugged coastline where we see the vast Pacific Ocean and hear the crashing waves of Pfeiffer Beach.  Serene melodies with a touch of Spanish flavor capture the breathtaking views.

    1. Continental Divide
      (Highway 82, Colorado)

Sweeping orchestral passages convey the thrill of driving over the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Layers of polyrhythms create a sense of forward motion and the excitement of crossing the Continental Divide in Colorado, the highest point in North America.

    1. Sleeping Bear
      (Highway 22, Michigan)

Driving to the Midwest, we arrive at Sleeping Bear Dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan. The music is a poignant tribute to the timeless beauty of the towering sand dunes and evokes the Native American “Legend of the Sleeping Bear”: a mother bear eternally overlooks two islands, symbolizing her lost cubs who drowned escaping a forest fire.

    1. Desilu
      (Highway 394, New York)

The musical mood shifts with a drive to Jamestown, New York where I visited a museum dedicated to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the beloved comedic duo who starred in the iconic television sitcom “I Love Lucy” (1951-57).  Accompanied by bongos, castanets, and flexatones, the oboe and French horn soloists engage in playful dialogues and interweaving melodies to convey the comic misadventures and ludic charm of Desi and Lucy.

    1. Blue Ridge
      (Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia to North Carolina)

Next we drive south to the Blue Ridge Mountains, where a winding road of 519 miles reveals magical vistas of the Shenandoah River running through the wooded landscapes below. The soulful oboe and introspective French horn evoke the spirit and tranquility of the river by echoing the folk tune, “Oh Shenandoah.”

    1. Key West
      (Overseas Highway 1, Florida)

Our road trip ends at Key West, Florida, the southern-most point in the United States located across from Cuba. The oboe, French horn, and orchestra blend seamlessly, creating an exciting tapestry of bright orchestral colors and pulsating Cuban rhythms to capture the infectious energy and joie de vivre of Key West, where the party never ends.

– Michael Daugherty (2024)