Festival Favorites: Beneath the Autumn Sky

Reminiscent of a crisp, cool autumn day, when the leaves have turned, a handful already fluttering to the ground; the sky a paler blue than usual. There is plenty of independence between the sections in this composition, and you have abundant opportunities for personalizing the phrasing and expression to your taste.

Beneath the Autumn Sky is a grade 3 string orchestra selection on the UIL PML.

About Beneath the Autumn Sky

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Kevin Sluder writes:

One of the things I love about music is its ability to conjure an image, even if you can’t exactly say why. I’ve always felt that this piece sounds like a crisp and cool autumn day. One of those days where the leaves have turned, a handful already fluttering to the ground; the sky a paler blue than usual.

I don’t remember how the main melody (m. 19 – first violin) came to me, but I remember feeling as if it composed itself, rather than me having written it. It flowed out so naturally from one phrase to the next. The harmonies at m. 27 have a “film score” sound to them, based in the relative minor and containing multiple levels of dissonance between the upper string voices. At m. 39, the first violin solo reiterates the melody from the beginning, with the option to continue playing up the octave at m. 43, if the player’s abilities allow. There is plenty of independence between the sections in this composition, and you have abundant opportunities for personalizing the phrasing and expression to your taste.

This piece will always hold a special place in my heart. I hope you enjoy one of my favorite compositions!

About Kevin Sluder

Kevin Sluder grew up in Mansfield, Texas and began his musical path in middle school as an electric bassist. In high school, he performed with the jazz band and drum line. Mr. Sluder changed his focus from jazz to string orchestra while at the University of North Texas, where he received a Bachelors degree in Music Education. He has taught in Lewisville, Texas, for eight years, spending five years instructing beginning strings at the middle school level before moving to his current position as Director of Orchestras at Lewisville High School.

For nearly 20 years, Mr. Sluder has enjoyed writing and arranging for various ensembles. Whether for string orchestra, rock bands, or percussion, he has always been intrigued by the ways in which varying timbres and instrument ranges can be combined to create a specific effect. In an effort to expand the pedagogical opportunities provided by young string repertoire, Mr. Sluder draws upon his background as a bassist and percussionist to compose stimulating bass lines and rhythmically engaging passages for the entire orchestra.

Programming

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