Pavilions (chamber orchestra suite)

Chamber orchestra–20′

A colorful imaginary history in suite form of the lakeside pavilions that have served a Minnesota neighborhood. For community orchestra.

Listen to an excerpt:

Preview the score:


Pavilions–chamber orchestra suite

Chamber orchestra: 2(picc),2(Eh),2,2 2,2 timp/p (one player) strings
Duration: 20′
Score and parts available on rental.
Commissioned by the Linden Hills (Minnesota) Chamber Orchestra in celebration of its 25th anniversary.
Premiere—April 12, 2007 by the Linden Hills Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jeffrey Stirling, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Program Note

Pavilions could be called an imaginary history of styles and events in the cultural life of Lake Harriet. In developing a scenario for a chamber orchestra suite, I was aided by Down At The Lake, published in 2002 by the Linden Hills History Study Group. I was particularly delighted by the photos of the five pavilions that have existed at the lake over 115 years.

When I stumbled by chance onto Linden Hills some years ago, I immediately fell in love with 43rd and Upton. It had everything: a co-op, a toy store, bread, coffee, even ice cream! I didn’t know then that the old streetcar once made its run through the odd gap between the hardware store and bakery before returning to town, giving the area its nickname: the Loop. The voices of dapper men and parasoled ladies in the photos, the hum of the paved-over tracks and the clang of the bell seemed to suggest a narrative for this imaginary history.

Prelude and Cakewalk

An arching theme, supple in rhythm and with a American ring, alternates with the cakewalk, an early form of ragtime popular at the turn of the last century. Agile woodwinds respond with a wiry, noodly figure. A fire sweeps through the orchestra, recalling the blazes that brought down the first two pavilions in 1891 and 1903.

To the Loop

Oboe introduces a “trolley theme” in dotted rhythm, resting on the fixed A and E of the strings. As the trolley approaches the Loop, it stops several times to take on passengers, and turns the corners of three keys as it makes its round, as it did from 1892-1954.

Jeux de Plaisance

Children’s games at Beard’s Plaisance, on the southwest side of Lake Harriet, begin with a simple four-note motive bandied about by competing teams. Adults (represented by more sober music) attend, but don’t squelch, the youngsters’ glee.

By the Lake–Charleston

A couple steal away for a few romantic moments on the shimmering lake. Perhaps there is a declaration, but it is cut short by the dance that was the craze of the 20s and 30s. Its jazz chords are echoed by the approaching trolley.


As the opening theme returns and gathers momentum, rising figures curve skyward, suggesting the present graceful Lake Harriet Pavilion designed by Milo Thompson. The wiry woodwind theme becomes a songful arch, as flags fly in the breeze.


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