The Bridge


An ebullient program opener, written for a skilled youth orchestra, but appropriate for a professional orchestra as well.

Preview the score:

Listen to a performance by the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony conducted by Mark Russell Smith:



The Bridge

Orchestra (2,picc,2,eb,2,2,cbn 4,3,3,1 T, 4 perc hp strings)
Duration: 9′
Commissioned by the Minnesota Commissioning Club.
Premiere—2014 by the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony, Mark Russell Smith, cond., 5/2014, Owatonna, Minn.
Score and parts available on rental. Contact DET

Program Note

man in cowboy hat

DET at Brush Creek

When I arrived in Wyoming for a writing holiday in June 2013, I didn’t know what I would compose for Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS), aside from knowing it would be a program-opener. A little arching melody came to me one day as I crossed the rope bridge suspended over Brush Creek. What intrigued me: the melody had no cadence; it seemed to hang in the air, buoyed by a seventh-chord that Sibelius would have recognized. Much of The Bridge has to do with finding a resolution to that chord and the melody, which is first stated by violas couple of minutes in.

The work was commissioned by the Minnesota Commissioning Club for the GTCYS 2014 Tour of Spain. Founded in 1990, the Minnesota Commissioning Club comprises six couples which joined together to spark the creation of and fund new music in a variety of genres. The Club energetically champions the works it commissions to give them the broadest exposure possible. Members included Cathie and Jerry Fischer, Linda and Jack Hoeschler, Hella Mears and Bill Hueg, Thelma Hunter (1924–2015), Judith and David Ranheim, and Gloria and Fred Sewell. The piece represents a crossing, a journey, and I liked the idea that GTCYS members would be making an Atlantic crossing of their own.

The writing is very rhythmic and often exposed, and I remembered my experience as a trumpet player in the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra as I wrote for these skilled young players. Every section of the orchestra is featured at some point; every player has something distinctive to play. Writing for orchestra is musical engineering, working with materials on a large scale. But it’s also like shooting an arrow into the air: it never lands quite where you expect. This commission was an opportunity to take a few chances, learn a few things, explore, discover, and find the way back. Generous support for the composition of The Bridge was also provided in part by a residency at the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, Saratoga, Wyoming, and by the American Composers Forum through the 2013 McKnight Composer Fellowship Program.

A video, Building the Bridge, introduces the work and the process of its composition to GTCYS members:


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