Theme and Reverberations for Two Tubas and String Orchestra

2007 | Commissioned by Boston Classical Orchestra | 17 minutes

Program Note

In 2003 composer Howard Frazin wrote The Voice of Isaac, an oratorio for children’s chorus, soloists, and chamber orchestra–a retelling of the story of Abraham and Isaac from the child’s perspective.  One of the performances was a benefit for a child welfare organization, and a symposium was organized around issues of child abuse and intergenerational violence. The panel included Frazin and pediatrician Eli Newberger–the first time the two had met.  I learned that the two had begun discussing a possible tuba concerto–I had known Howie’s music for several years, and was a big fan of Eli’s tuba playing with the New Black Eagle Jazz Band–and immediately expressed interest. When Mike Roylance was appointed principal tuba of the Boston Symphony, and Howie and I learned that Mike and Eli were old friends, the project took on a life of its own.  The composer makes the following observations:

“What I am interested in as a creative artist is a strong expressively nuanced statement that is challenging but also immediately engaging to an average listener–engaging in part because it interacts with tradition to create something new.  Theme and Reverberations considers as its premise the notion of the tuba as the acoustic fundamental of the orchestra and childhood experience as the psychological foundation for adult life. The idea has been to write an abstract piece of music whose drama and expression are manifestations of a structured psychological description (in a sense, similar to the way Classical sonata form was originally derived from rules of rhetoric).”

The score bears the dedication “To Amelia”–Mike and Amanda Roylance welcomed their first child during the period of collaborative preparation for these premiere performances.

–Steven Lipsitt, Music Director, Boston Classical Orchestra (2007)


Past Performances

Music on Norway Pond

Hancock, NH
March 14, 2010

The Cadenza Players
J. Elliot and C. Todeasa, tubas
William Drury, conductor

St. Botolph Club

Boston, MA
May 9, 2007

Mike Roylance and Eli Newberger, tubas
Laurel Quartet
Karl Doty, bass

Boston Classical Orchestra (Premiere)

Faneuil Hall, Boston, MA
March 16, 2007
March 18, 2007

Boston Classical Orchestra
Mike Roylance and Eli Newberger, tubas
Steven Lipsitt, conductor

Open Source with Christopher Lydon

WGBH
Boston, MA
March 13, 2007

(Excerpts)
Mike Roylance and Eli Newberger, tubas
Steven Lipsitt and Howard Frazin, piano