Miracle is based on two melodic sources, the hymn Come Thou Fount From Every Blessing (words by Robert Robinson and music by Asahel Nettleton) and the Chinese folk song Jasmine Flower, representing Christian and Asian culture respectively. The work unfolds in such a manner as to exploit both melodies and then blend them together.
Genre: Band | # of Players: Standard
Level: 4 | Duration: 8:00
B-flat Clarinet 1
B-flat Clarinet 2
B-flat Clarinet 3
Alto Saxophone 1
Alto Saxophone 2
B-flat Trumpet 1
B-flat Trumpet 2
B-flat Trumpet 3
F Horn 1
F Horn 2
Timpani [4 drums]
Percussion 1: Crotales, Xylophone, Chimes
Percussion 2: Bells, 2 Brake Drums
Percussion 3: Vibraphone, Temple Blocks, Crash Cymbals, Chimes, Suspended Cymbal, Tam-Tam
Percussion 4: Snare Drum, 2 Brake Drums, Marimba, Tam-Tam, Chimes, Suspended Cymbal
Percussion 5: Marimba, Tam-Tam, 4 Concert Toms, Crotales
Percussion 6: Bass Drum, Tam-Tam
Miracle was commissioned by the Hong Kong International School High School Band under the direction of Tim Gavlik and Kevin Harris-Lowe. The Hong Kong International School began in 1966 by the collaboration of the Hong Kong government, some American businessmen, and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The success of this collaboration is truly a “miracle”, and after the school opened its doors in 1967, the school has grown from 630 multinational students to over 2500 students in 2016. The academic and spiritual development at the International School are unparalleled.
Miracle is based on two melodic sources, the hymn, “Come Thou Fount From Every Blessing (words by Robert Robinson, 1758 and music by Asahel Nettleton, 1812), and the Chinese folk song, “Jasmine Flower”, representing Christian and Asian culture, respectively.
The work unfolds in such a manner as to exploit both melodies and then blend them together. The miracle of how Christianity and the Asian culture have successfully merged in the International School is brought to light in the music as both of the melodies collaborate to create an artistic work.
The work divides into multiple sections as follows:
Introduction: (1-6) Ethereal mood with small fragments of the hymn and folksong
Section 1: (7-27) Solo Flute 1 and 2 play the folksong in canon with fragments of the hymn underneath in augmentation; the texture thickens and builds and modulates to a grand chorale-like statement of the refrain of the folksong by brass, saxes, and low woodwinds in Ab major.
Section 2: (28-50) Open fifth drone in clarinets and crotales; piccolo and piano play phrases of the folksong and low brass and woodwinds play opening measures of the hymn; percussion accompanies with snare, toms and tam-tam answering the phrases of the hymn; low brass and woodwinds follow with an ostinato built on the first three notes of the hymn with snare, toms, and tam-tam continuing to accompany while horns and trumpets play phrases from the hymn within a somewhat static harmonic texture; flutes, clarinets, and piano join the texture playing the first part of the folksong and crotales and brake drum are added to the percussion texture; this builds to a climax using the first phrase of the hymn with a modulation to Db major.
Section 3: (51-83)Solo euphonium introduces what seems to be new melodic material accompanied by low brass and a shimmering sextuplet pattern in the flutes and triplets in the bells; the melody repeats, doubled by tenor sax, and becomes the countermelody to the hymn tune, “Come Thou Fount”, played by horns and alto sax; the texture thickens with the addition of piccolo, clarinet, vibraphone and marimba doubling the flutes; a short transition follows where the beginning of the refrain is played in imitation throughout the ensemble; the transition modulates to F major where the full ensemble plays the complete refrain of the hymn and modulates to D Major:; a timpani roll leads to the next section.
Section 4: (84-141) timpani, low brass/woodwinds articulate the start of this section in Bb Major with the first three notes of the hymn followed by interplay of the percussion section between the brake drums, bass drum, snare, temple blocks and toms with the chimes playing motives from the hymn; This percussion texture becomes the backdrop for a fugal exposition where the subject head is comprised of the first 8 notes of the first phrase of the hymn followed by notes from the second measure of the folksong refrain--and the tail is comprised of notes from the third measure of the folksong followed by the last 7 notes of the first phrase of the hymn; horns and alto sax play the subject, answered by trumpets, then low brass and woodwinds on the subject, answered by flutes, oboe, clarinets, and piano; a transition follows consisting of ascending pentachord patterns in the piccolo, flutes, clarinet, bells, and piano, which morph into an ostinato derived from the refrain of the folksong in diminution; the ostinato becomes the accompaniment to the brass and saxophones that enter, modulate to Db Major and play the hymn, in augmentation; a short transition follows, again playing with refrain of the hymn and modulates to F Major.
Section 5: (142-154)The section begins with an ascending cascade of the first 4 notes of the hymn refrain leading to a short development of the folksong refrain with high woodwinds and xylophone in diminution against brass in augmentation;
Section 6: (155-194) Closing – Finale; This section begins a long closing area which is essentially a celebration featuring a series of events using both tunes either in alternation or together; at the onset, low brass, saxes and percussion alternate between 7/8 and 6/8 meters playing a variation of the refrain motive of the folksong, answered by trumpets/horns and finally high woodwinds modulating into D major; following are statements in the low brass/saxes of the first phrase of the hymn stated between interruptions in the percussion; this segues to a glorious statement of motives from both tunes layered in a polyrythmic texture followed by a falling line based on the hymn refrain; this leads to a polyrhythmic ostinato in the piccolo, flutes, oboe, clarinets, piano, crotales, bells, snare, and toms which provide a backdrop for the brass and saxes to state final measures of the hymn refrain in a new rhythmic guise;
Coda: (195-211) A rousing coda in 2/2 meter brings the work to an exciting close by using a tour de force of both motives.