Deep Calls to Deep
Concerto grosso for brass quintet and wind ensemble, grade 6/6
When originally approached in 2015 about writing a piece for the Boston Brass and wind ensemble, my mind immediately jumped to the fact that 2015 was the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city of New Orleans in 2005. In addition, there is a strong autobiographical element present in the piece’s conception as my own life had recently been turned upside down by a “hurricane” of circumstances. The title, Deep Calls to Deep is a phrase that appears in Psalm 42:7 describing
afflictions that wash over one continually like waves of the sea. Throughout this psalm, there are other references to waves and water-related destruction which I felt fitting in regard both to the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina and to the
circumstances of my own life.
Throughout the piece there are several themes that reappear. The first is a mournful tune, first appearing in the solo tuba that may remind one of a traditional African-American spiritual. This melody is the basis for much of the pitch material throughout the piece. The other main theme is a melody which appears at the start of the second movement, “Processionals.” This continuously spinning out melody is actually formed from motives taken from three traditional gospel songs, “Amazing Grace,” “In the Sweet By and By,” and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” These tunes are commonly used in traditional New Orleans jazz funerals. Throughout the first movement, “De Profundis,” the music moves in waves, some of which swell and some of which break. At the beginning of the second movement, the music comes to rest at the bottom of the sea and, over the course of the remainder of the music, gradually rises out of the water and into sunlight through a funeral procession that is stately and somber at first, then joyous and raucous.