For Stuart Malina, Common Fanfare for an Uncommon Orchestra was uncommonly difficult to compose. In fact, it almost never happened at all.
The Florida Orchestra’s principal guest conductor first tried to write the short piece in the spring when he heard about the Florida Fanfare Project, a series of fanfares commissioned for TFO’s 50th anniversary season.
“I made several attempts over the course of several months, none of which I thought were any good,” said Malina, a Tony Award winner who has led TFO’s popular Coffee concert series since 2013. “In August I finally came to the conclusion that the fanfare was not going to happen, so I stopped trying.”
Then a funny thing happened.
“A few weeks later, I had a free day, and wrote the fanfare pretty much as it ended up. I liked it, and there you are.”
It’s not the first piece Malina has written. “I’ve been attempting composing for many years, since the days when I was a theory and composition major at Harvard in the early ‘80s,” Malina said. “Now I have a son who is a very gifted composer, and it has brought the truth home to me that I am pretty much a pretender. This doesn’t really bother me all that much.”
Malina decided to give the fanfare a test run with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, where he is in his 18th season as music director. “Both orchestras have superb brass and percussion sections. I wanted to see how it sounded, and get any potential problems with it solved in advance of its Florida premiere. It went over great, and I’m pleased with the piece.”
The work, a take on Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, is intended to be an entertaining opener, with both majesty and drive. It’s all over in less than 3 minutes.
“No deep meaning or purpose, although if you play it backwards on an LP it has a hidden message…”
Maestro Malina will conduct his Common Fanfare for an Uncommon Orchestra along with Rachmaninoff’s lush Symphony No. 2 and Prokofiev’s soaring Violin Concerto No. 2, featuring Alex Kerr in his TFO debut.
Fri, Dec 1, 8 pm, Straz Center
Sat, Dec 2, 8 pm, Mahaffey Theater
Sun, Dec 3, 2 pm, Mahaffey Theater – Matinee
Tickets: $15, $30, $45
Free tickets for kids and teens available in advance, with adult ticket purchase.
Click for more on Tony Award winner Stuart Malina