Sunset Strip for orchestra | Michael Daugherty, composer

Sunset Strip
for orchestra (1999)

Instrumentation: Flute, piccolo, 2 oboes, clarinet, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons; 2 horns, 2 trumpets; percussion (1 player=2 latin cowbells (medium,smaller) 3 agogo bells (low, medium, high) 2 cymbals (ride, splash ), triangle, wind chimes, 2 bongos (low,high ), maracas, claves, vibraslap, large whip, tambourine, bell tree); piano; strings

Publisher: Boosey and Hawkes, Hendon Music (BMI)

Duration: 15 minutes

World Premiere: January 7, 2000 / Ordway Music Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota / St. Paul Chamber Orchestra / Hugh Wolff, conductor

Program Note:

Sunset Strip is part of my series of compositions inspired by American places and spaces, including Route 66 (1998), Niagara Falls (1997), Motown Metal (1994), Flamingo (1991) and Blue Like an Orange (1987).

Beginning in downtown Los Angeles and ending at the Pacific Ocean beach, Sunset Strip was one of the first “strips” built in America: an endless two-lane road for autos to cruise up and down, framed on each side by buildings of all shapes, sizes, and functions.

In my composition, I create a musical landscape where I reflect upon the various sounds and images of Sunset Strip from the 1950s through the 1990s. My imaginary journey takes us past swank restaurants, beatnik hangouts, Rat Pack nightclubs, private eye offices, tattoo parlors, Mexican Restaurants, motor inns, discos, billboards, parking lots, gas stations, burlesque halls, piano bars and jazz lounges. I frame and re-frame the sounds of these worlds as they come into view, vanish, and reappear in fragmented orchestrations, melodies, and counterpoints.

Sunset Strip is in three movements: “7 PM,” “Nocturne,” and “7 AM.” Using antiphonally placed trumpets; I create a feeling of switching lanes back and forth between the present, past and future. Sunset Strip is music in motion, in which I put the performer and the listener in the driver’s seat.

–Michael Daugherty