Indirectly inspired by the painting “Carnet de Voyage” by Guy Weir, “Tour de Force” is the story of a bicycle race that begins as a rush to the finish, but ends as a race away from danger. The piece begins with a fanfare section, like something a spectator might hear at the beginning of a race. As the riders settle into their groove, the music follows them along the course, beginning with a ride through a forest dominated by the low reeds. The saxophones then take the audience onto a hot, sandy part of the course, and as the clarinets join in, an ominous presence begins to make itself known. The race takes a sudden, unexpected turn for the worse when a mountain lion emerges and begins chasing the main group of riders.
The riders begin to pedal more frantically in an effort to escape, all the while staying on the course. As Tour de Force began to take on a life of its own, I let it roam freely, only to find that the finish line was indeed where the race had begun. However, by the time the finish line is crossed, the piece has a very different, desperate vibe to it.
After I finished the piece, my band director gave the first edit to my school’s Wind Ensemble, surprising us all when she announced that we would be playing the piece at our Winter Concert. But the journey that began with the writing of Tour de Force was far from over. I got to see firsthand how a piece progresses from notes on paper to music in the air, and I got valuable feedback from my peers. I began to understand how conductors and musicians might see things differently than composers. After several edits, Tour de Force became the piece it is today, and my classmates found they enjoyed playing the piece as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Watch the world premiere of Tour de Force, as performed by the Santa Teresa High School Wind Ensemble: