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Song of the Telegraph (2010)

wind ensemble, 13’30


  • When Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872) invented the electromagnetic telegraph system in the 1830s, he could not have anticipated how its technological advances might be reinterpreted artistically in the next century. Another inventive spirit, Charles Ephraim Burchfield (1893-1967), drew inspiration from both the system’s physical appearance and the sounds emanating from miles of telegraph wires strung on wooden poles along country roads. A masterwork of synesthesia, Song of the Telegraph (1917-52) personifies Burchfield’s highly receptive mind that could translate auditory stimuli into incredible visual representations.

    Song of the Telegraph (2010) is in three continuous movements, each addressing a different aspect of Burchfield’s painting. The first movement, Across the Wires, features a series of undulating textures pitted against an energetic tapping motive, not unlike the visual rhythm of Burchfield’s humming telegraph wires. Song of the Clouds introduces long, legato phrases that weave together into a series of passing clouds, each gathering greater intensity until reaching a stormy climax. A piccolo solo introduces the final movement, Bluebird’s Halo. Although a somewhat hidden feature of the painting, the diminutive bluebird perched on the fence encompassed by a golden halo strikes out against the surrounding darkness. The orchestration brightens, as a simple tune becomes the basis for revisiting the first movement’s ‘telegraph’ motive.

  • 05/04/11 | Ian Dicke in Austin, Texas | University of Texas at Austin
    University of Texas Wind Ensemble, Damon S. Talley, conductor
    10/11/11 | Ian Dicke in Memphis, Tennessee | University of Memphis
    University of Memphis Wind Ensemble, Albert T Nguyen, conductor
    11/16/11 | Ian Dicke in Austin, Texas | University of Texas at Austin
    University of Texas Wind Symphony, Scott S. Hanna, conductor
    12/05/11 | Ian Dicke in Lubbock, Texas | Texas Tech University
    Texas Tech Symphonic Band, Benjamin Lorenzo, conductor
    03/27/12 | Ian Dicke in Austin, Texas | University of Texas at Austin
    University of Texas Wind Symphony, Scott S. Hanna, conductor
    03/30/12 | Ian Dicke in San Antonio, Texas | CBDNA
    University of Texas Wind Symphony, Scott S. Hanna, conductor
    04/25/12 | Ian Dicke in Baton Rouge, Louisiana | Lousiana State University
    LSU Symphonic Winds, Eric Melley, conductor
    11/12/12 | Ian Dicke in Athens, Georgia | University of Georgia
    UGA Wind Symphony, Frank Wickes, conductor
    02/07/13 | Ian Dicke in East Lansing, Michigan | Michigan State University
    Michigan State University Symphony Band, John T. Madden, conductor
    11/17/13 | Ian Dicke in Normal, Illinois | Illinois State University
    Illinois State University Symphonic Winds
    04/22/14 | Ian Dicke in Miami, Florida | University of Miami
    The Frost Wind Ensemble
    Timothy Shade, conductor
    03/01/15 | Ian Dicke in Honolulu, Hawaii | University of Hawaii
    The University of Hawaii Wind Ensemble
    Jeffrey Boeckman, conductor
    05/06/16 | Ian Dicke in Austin, Texas | University of Texas at Austin
    UT Wind Symphony
    02/21/17 | Ian Dicke in Baton Rouge, Louisiana | Lousiana State University
    LSU Symphonic Winds, Dennis Llinás, conductor