Chinese Fire Drill
Commissioned by the Colorado Mesa University Wind Symphony
Calvin Hofer, conductor
As a teenager, I was a willing participant to many “Chinese fire drills.” Interesting enough, in my experience they usually occurred on the way to or from marching band rehearsal. For those who may not know, a “Chinese fire drill” is kind of like a game of vehicular musical chairs. A car load of people (usually teenagers) come to a stop at a red light. Everyone frantically gets out and runs around the vehicle (usually while laughing and/or screaming hysterically) and then jumps back in the car. These are wildly fun and generally seen as harmless, playful pranks. While composing this work, I often asked myself, “What would a Chinese fire drill sound like if it were a piece of music?” What you'll hear is my best answer! This composition, Chinese Fire Drill attempts to portray the zany, whimsical, and chaotic nature of a “Chinese fire drill.” I didn't figure I could literally have all the performers jump up and run around and switch seats onstage. However, I have tried to capture the adrenaline and excitement of the event by incorporating unusual extended techniques, a few unusual instruments, and even some slightly theatrical elements. A lighthearted humor pervades much of this work and smiling and laughing during the performance is not only admissible but encouraged! It is my hope that this composition will help all of us connect with the energy and spontaneity of our inner youth.
Colorado Mesa University Wind Symphony, Calvin Hofer, conductor
Composer explanation of the piece (live recording from the premiere)
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