Will you dance with me? (for orchestra)

Hello Everyone! 

Here is a link to a performance of my new piece for orchestra, Will you dance with me?


The piece had its official premier in Spain, and this is the final performance in San Sebastian. It was commissioned for the Saratoga HS Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Michael Boitz.

A bit about the piece: 

Over two years ago (March 2012), Michael Boitz met with me to commission a piece for the Saratoga Symphony Orchestra. “I want the piece to be dedicated to Takako Hasegawa” he said. Takako was someone I had heard much — many of my close friends raved about how awesome she was and I knew she was a big part of the heart and organization of the Saratoga program — but at that time I didn’t know her personally. The piece was also to remain a secret, so in the conception process for the piece I had to take a detective-like approach to find out as much about her as possible.Upon meeting Takako, I immediately understood everyone’s positive reactions and recollections to and of her. She is exceedingly warm, positive, helpful and organized, all while working tirelessly for the program. At times — when asked to do so — she would also give the most viscously honest criticism of our musical or personal choices: “You can’t do that!! That is incorrect!! I don’t like that!!” she would exclaim to the juxtaposition of historical musical composers within the pageantry activity, for example. This combination of warmth and honest strength in character was inspiring to me. One of her favorite composers is Mahler (his Fourth Symphony her absolute favorite), and she greatly enjoys the classics. She is extremely knowledgable about orchestral repertoire (much more so than I): “The last movement of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony has no timpani part. Don’t you know this? It is very common knowledge.” Put in my place — “I’m sorry, I guess I forgot” — and I loved this. I also found out early on that Takako’s son, Shota, died in his sleep seven years ago (2007). 

This was the information I had to move forward with. The last point about Shota is/was the most obvious place to start, but it’s also the most paralyzing: Nobody but parents can truly imagine the pain of losing a child. I can’t imagine this, I don’t want to pretend that I can imagine it, and therefore trying to write a piece with this detail in mind is in danger of becoming disingenuous. But, it would be disrespectful to write a piece dedicated to Takako without at least acknowledging this loss in some way. All of these points played out in the back of my mind and then one day it hit me while I was driving:

“In the place between sleep and awake, Shota Hasegawa extends his hand out to his mother and asks ‘will you dance with me?’”

Immediately I heard the dance in my head. This was the first part of the piece that was realized. I knew where I was going, I knew what would drive the piece and I knew the “color painting” that I wanted to achieve with the orchestra. Shota, his father and his brother all played trumpet; this was also a clear place for an homage. Takako herself plays the violin and I knew that at one point in the piece, probably toward the beginning, I wanted to have a conversation between the trumpet and violin(s). This is where I started the piece. I didn’t want it to be a trite chronological set of events which a traditional tone poem might evoke, but rather I wanted to be a series of vacillating ethereal “dream-like” textures, expanding and contracting, with neo-romantic melodic elements representing the warmth and strength of Takako’s character.

The result is a joyously experimental piece — my first attempt at composing for full orchestra and wanting to see how the sounds in my head would translate to the actual performance venue and to the performers themselves. There’s not enough to be said for the satisfying result of pushing myself, the performers, and I believe Mr. Boitz himself into attempting to understand the non-traditional form and harmonic structure. Using this piece as an opportunity for musical growth, and Takako-san as the muse of inspiration for this, has truly been the highest of privileges.

Takako-sensei, aishiteru!!




  • Vince, you created a moving piece that flowed around my head. The rhythmic highs and lows brought severe emotion out of me. This is before I read the back story of the creation. Bravo and well done!

    Brent RodriguezAugust 18, 2014
  • Thanks, Brent!

    vinceoliverAugust 18, 2014

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