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Let The Race Begin!

Band | 3'00" | Hard | 2020

With blustery vigor and a frenetic pace, Jonathan Kochik’s Let the Race Begin! is an unapologetically fun concert opener for wind ensemble. Although the tradition of a fanfare overture is well-explored in the wind band medium, Kochik’s clever sense of humor and tongue-in-cheek approach to the form keeps the work feeling innovative and fresh. Conceptualized as an abstract reflection on the busyness of everyday life, Let the Race Begin! presents thematic references to the internal conflict and struggle maintaining perspective in a world with ever-quickening momentum.

The piece begins with a flurry of rhythmic motives in upper woodwinds and percussion set atop bell tones in brass and low reeds: a textural “home base” that Kochik returns to several times throughout. The main rhythmic motive presented in the upper voices during the introduction is a group of five, designed to be an evocation of the title of the work (“let the race be-gin”). This motive is nearly omnipresent in the piece, sometimes in the forefront as a melodic entity, and sometimes obscured in the background as an ostinato or ornamentation. A whistle and the shot of a starter pistol (emulated through a whip crack) begins the race in earnest, and the piece subsequently unfolds in a tripartite structure.

The opening section of the work takes the principal motive and spins an energetic melody from its filaments, adding more complexity to its accompaniment with each iteration, concluding with one of the piece’s first true moments of conflict: a cadence in the parallel major of the prevailing home key of D minor. The ensuing section explores a disparity of velocity, with fragmented vestiges of the previous melody coloring a slower oscillation in the clarinets presented alongside comparatively glacial melodic content for the brass. After a brief interlude that returns the introductory materials (starting the race anew), the third section of the piece attempts to introduce order through a martial statement of triplets in bassoon and snare drum, but these are quickly warped into a hazy rhythmic soundscreen by other woodwinds behind a longing brass chorale. A short codetta abruptly shifts to D major and the work ends with an explosion of colorful motivic shards from earlier in the work, spun together in a turbulent but exuberant finish.


- program note by Jake Wallace

Please credit Jake Wallace when reproducing or excerpting this program note.

Premiered by                 

October 5, 2021
Georgia State University Wind Orchestra
T. Devin Reid, conductor

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