‘The Rust Belt’ is a term for the region straddling the upper North-Eastern United States, the Great Lakes, and the Midwest States, referring to economic decline, population loss, and urban decay due to the shrinking of its once-powerful industrial sector.
Rust Belt was inspired by a photo essay featuring images from this region, such as abandoned factories and derelict neighborhoods. The music suggests the vibrancy, the blue-collar energy and optimism that used to permeate those sites. It evokes the nostalgia of the inhabitants for the good years and their yearning for a return to relevance and dignity.
The musical material is generated from a 12 note ‘row’ that is used consistently throughout, either in melody or bass, though always in the context of a triadic tonal harmonic language. In reflection of the industrial theme, much use is made of metallic percussion, including anvil and steel drums. And the siren is also prominently featured.
Rust Belt was commissioned in 2017 by the United States Air Force Academy Band and premiered under the baton of Shanti Simon, with Tim Allums and Adrian Holton solo trumpets. After touring the piece through Utah and Colorado the band featured it in their performance at the 2017 National Trumpet Competition. It was performed that same year in Manchester UK by the wind ensemble of the Royal Northern College of Music under Mark Heron. In 2019 James Ripley directed the Carthage College Wind Orchestra in a fine performance with Jacinda Ripley and Kevin Natoli as soloists.