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Frank Ticheli: "Postcard"

August 19, 2010

Since it's the end of the summer, a piece entitled Postcard would seem to be appropriate. Below you can find information on Frank Ticheli's Postcard, and a recording.

These program notes are by the composer.

 

Postcard was commissioned by my friend, colleague, and mentor, H. Robert Reynolds, in memory of his mother, Ethel Virginia Curry. He requested that I compose not an elegy commemorating her death, but a short energetic piece celebrating her life. In response, I have composed this brief "postcard" as a musical reflection of her character -- vibrant, whimsical, succinct.

 

It is cast in an ABA' form. The primary theme, first heard in the flute and clarinet and used in the outer sections, is a palindrome -- that is, it sounds the same played forwards or backwards. This theme honors a long-standing tradition in the Reynolds family of giving palindromic names (such as Hannah and Anna) to their children. H. Robert Reynolds' first name is Harrah. The theme's symmetry is often broken, sometimes being elongated, other times being abruptly cut off by unexpected events.

 

The B section is based on a five-note series derived from the name Ethel: E (E natural) T (te in the solfeggio system, B flat) H (in the German system, B natural) E (E-flat this time) L (la in the solfeggio system, A natural). The development of this motive can be likened to a journey through a series of constantly changing landscapes.

 

The A' section is articulated by the return of the main melody. This section is not identical to the A section, but is close enough in spirit to it to give the effect of a large-scale palindrome surrounding the smaller ones. Postcard was completed in the summer of 1991. The first performance was on April 17, 1992, at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, by the University of Michigan Symphony Band conducted by H. Robert Reynolds. 

 

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