This extended concert overture was successfully performed by the Eastman Philharmonia under Prof. David Effron on the evening of October 6 1997, in the presence of William Johnson, Mayor of Rochester. It was composed to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the Eastman School of Music.
Four local melodies give rise directly and indirectly to all the themes in this music, as well as being quoted in various guises. They are, in order of appearance – (though not necessarily in these keys):
1) The ‘ophicleide solo’ from ROCHESTER ARCADE QUICK-STEP by W.C. Glynn – a local wind band hit from 1844.
2) The hymn tune ROCHESTER taken from a ‘shape-note’ hymnal from the early 19th century, exhibiting the attractive parallel harmonies typical of that style.
3) The anonymous canon DONA NOBIS PACEM traditionally sung by the whole school at the annual ‘Holiday Sing’ before Christmas.
4) The opening and closing phrases of THE GENESEE, the ‘alma mater’ of the University of Rochester from 1892, with words by T.T. Swinburne. The Genesee is the once pristine river that flows through Rochester to Lake Ontario.
These pieces were suggested to me by Dr. Sion Honea of the Sibley Library. As well as their role as the melodic and structural source of this overture, their 19th century origin colours its musical language.
Eight years on, looking back at ‘Eastman Overture’ I can see that in addition to being the intended nostalgic tribute to Rochester and the Eastman School it is also a record of my feelings several months into my American experience.
Unfortunately my recording of the premiere of this music is lost. I have however compiled a basic MIDI simulation which give will give some idea of the music which I revised in 2002.