On April 24, pianist Rochelle Sennet premieres James Lee III’s new Concerto for Piano and Wind Ensemble with the Morgan State University Symphonic Band. Melvin N. Miles conducts. The four-movement, 22-minute work was written for both Sennet and the university ensemble, and is a continued collaboration with Sennet, who premiered the composers’ Piano Sonata No. 2 in 2013.
Lee comments on his new piece. “The Concerto for Piano and Wind Ensemble is loosely based on some thoughts I had about my teaching experience at Morgan State University. Each movement is in a particular form that one might expect in a traditional concerto, however with some slightly unexpected detours. Movement One is in sonata form and expresses majestic gestures especially in the piano solo part. It has various aspects of ‘marching,’ which is a brief commentary on the students’ work playing in the marching band during the fall semester.
“The Second Movement stems from the idea of a ternary form that I teach in one of my theory classes. It is a whimsical scherzo based on an ascending figure. [In] this playful movement…there are many call-and-response passages reminiscent of a storyteller from the West-African tradition. Movement Three is the most beautiful and poignant of the concerto, with an expression of nostalgia [while] looking forward to summer vacation. The Fourth Movement is a tour de force rondo [which involves] the idea of the circle of fifth and key signatures, because I teach that to my first year theory students.”