“Every moment I spend studying and rehearsing Millennium Homecoming has been a joy.” And so, Prof. Melvin Miles introduces us to James Lee III’s newest work, as Prof. Miles leads the Morgan State University Symphonic Band in the April 26th world premiere in Baltimore, MD.
Miles continues. “James Lee’s new composition is a delightful work. I’ve been in a perpetual state of discovery. While this composition ‘winks’ at your ears with short burst of tune, it is a composition that challenges the dexterity of woodwind and saxophone sections, the range and boldness of the brass players, and brings to light the special colors of the percussion section. Millennium Homecoming is both serious and fun to play and will be the same for the listener.”
James Lee describes his new work. “Millennium Homecoming is inspired by the biblical text of Revelation 20:6 ‘…and shall reign with Him a thousand years.’” Having been raised in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Lee’s faith provides inspiration for his creativity, so biblical teachings—especially from the books of Daniel and Revelation—are an important influences in his music. Lee continues, “This is a reference to the saints going to heaven and being with Jesus for an initial 1000-year period. The work opens in a very exclamatory manner in the brass. Shortly thereafter, the woodwinds and percussion join the festivities. … After many episodes in which various members of the ensemble express and display their celebrations, the percussion moves to the forefront…At certain parts throughout the work, calls and responses are heard. Before the piece actually ends, there is a short choral passage in the clarinets, trumpets, and horns that partially quote one of my orchestral pieces, Beyond Rivers of Vision. This music utilizes my leitmotif “MICHAEL” (E-C-B-A-E), which is another Hebrew name for Jesus Christ. The work then continues into richly layered exuberant passages until it ends with an explosive sound of joy.”
Coming up: next month, the Ritz Chamber Players perform Lee’s String Quartet No. 2 in Jacksonville, FL on May 6th; and from the 21st through 24tth, the composer travels to Lima, Peru to serve a guest composer/performer residency where he’ll also play his solo piano work Souls of Alkebulan.