Galbraith’s Melodic and Nostalgic Side

Ronald Zollman, conductor; photo: Raphael Oleg

Nancy Galbraith has enjoyed a long career at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music in Pittsburgh, PA. This fall, she celebrates the school’s centennial with the premiere of her new piece Euphonic Blues. Galbraith-colleague Ronald Zollman conducts the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic Orchestra in the work’s first performance on September 16.

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“[When I was working on] Euphonic Blues,” Galbraith shares, “[I wanted] to write a predominantly melodic work—using polychords and lush diatonic harmonies—that reflects a somewhat bluesy and nostalgic sound. Much of my music falls under the umbrella of ‘post-minimalism’ as it is replete with rhythmic drive and harmonic textures. My more extended instrumental compositions also include areas with a more melodic character and gentler pulse contrasting the surrounding livelier content. For this piece, I wanted to focus more on the melodic, nostalgic side since I am writing to celebrate the past 100 years of this venerable institution. My music also exhibits a distinctively American sound, and this naturally led to the bluesy character of some the music.”

Galbraith continues, “Euphonic Blues opens with the soft, long lyrical lines of the strings, and the sweet, reflective melody of a solo flute. After further development, the music evolves into a majestic, full orchestral climax. This is followed by a dance-like middle section that is abruptly interrupted by another rhythmic section in 7/8 meter. A sudden trumpet fanfare leads to a repeat of the earlier bluesy climax, and the work closes quietly and nostalgically, as it began.

I am delighted for this opportunity to honor the School of Music with a work that is certainly influenced by my past quarter-century as a composer and professor at Carnegie Mellon, and to share that honor with my distinguished colleagues in the composition department.”

 As a performer, it’s always a wonderful experience to give first or early performances of new works. As with any work one performs, one is bound to enter somehow into the composer’s laboratory. But with a living composer, there is something very special because thoughts can be exchanged at the very source of the creation…For me, conversations or questions have always been privileged and stimulating occasions [and] this is one more reason to look forward to the premiere of Nancy’s Euphonic Blues.”  — Ronald Zollman, conductor


More Carnegie Mellon news features the university’s first performance of Galbraith’s latest band piece Febris Ver (Spring Fever). The concert takes place on September 30 as Thomas Thompson conducts the Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble.

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