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Joan Tower

Publisher: AMP

Island Prelude (oboe and string orchestra) (1989)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
10 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Purchase CD
Programme Note
Joan Tower Island Prelude (oboe and string orchestra) (1989)
Related works:
Island Prelude (oboe and string orchestra)
Island Prelude (oboe and string quartet)
Island Prelude (wind quintet)
Island Prelude was composed for the oboist Peter Bowman in 1988; Bowman’s “exceptionally lyrical playing” helped to inspire the piece, along Samuel Barber’s “wonderfully controlled Adagio for Strings.” The premiere of this piece was given on May 4, 1989; Leonard Slatkin conducted Bowman and the St. Louis Symphony.

Composer Note:

This work starts with a very slow-moving consonant landscape that gradually becomes more active and dissonant. Above this terrain, the oboe emerges as a slightly more prominent and melismic line which in turn activates the surrounding chords. Finally, the oboe releases its contained energy in two short cadenzas ruling upwards in a burst of fast notes that lead into a final, quiet coda. This last section is again very slow, sustained, high and distant.

The island [of the title] is remote, lush, tropical with stretches of white beach interspersed with thick green jungle. Above is a large, powerful, and brightly colored bird which soars and glides, spirals up, and plummets with folded wings as it dominates but lives in complete harmony with its island home.

—Joan Tower

  • Ensemble
    St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
    Richard Woodhams, oboe
    Leonard Slatkin
    First Edition:
  • Ensemble
    Tokyo String Quartet
    Richard Woodhams, oboe
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