Sunrise Symphony is a work in five movements for orchestra and chorus with an approximate duration of forty-five minutes. Although each of the symphony's various movements can be performed independently, the five-movement inclusive work is unified by similar tempos, harmonic style, melodic and rhythmic concordances, and programmatic content.
I - Processional for the Human Spirit
(Performance time: ca. 2 min.)
Featuring brass, timpani, and percussion
4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, 2 percussion
II - Inner-city Sunrise
(Performance time: ca. 12 min.)
2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, 3 percussionists, celesta, harp, and strings in 5 parts.
- University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, April 19, 1998
- The Central Kentucky Youth Symphony Orchestra, May 10, 1998
- The Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, January 14, 2000
- The U.C.L.A. Symphonia Orchestra, February 8, 2000
Program note by the composer: The first performance of Inner-city Sunrise took place on January 25, 1998, at an orchestral reading by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kay George Roberts. Calvin Taylor was one of four winners of the Unisys African-American Composer's Residency and National Symposium, an outreach program dedicated to the identification and performance of music written by African-American composers. The score calls for two flutes and piccolo, two oboes and English horn, two clarinets and bass clarinet, two bassoons and contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, tam-tam, suspended cymbal, snare drum, finger cymbals, bass drum, cymbals, mark tree, chimes, vibraphone, orchestral bells, celesta, harp, and strings (duration: 12 minutes).
Highly programmatic in design and form, Inner-city Sunrise portrays a sense of the earlier glory, decline, and renaissance of great cities. The inspiration for Inner-city Sunrise is in the hope that beautiful trees, and people of immense inner force will facilitate the reclaiming of urban centers, principal birthplace of industry and culture.
The form is that of a slowly-developing, highly concentrated arch. The introduction (Adagietto, 4/4) sets an unsettled, searching mood, first with woodwinds, horns, and contrabass in harmonies of deep, brooding color, then taken over by strings, partially muted. A contemplative clarinet solo announces the main theme, accompanied by strings, then repeated by solo oboe, leading to a quasi development section, Moderato Poco Animato. The development theme is actually constructed from reformatted fragments of the opening melody, set in three variations. The second variation is notable for its prominent use of thecornet, a five-rank organ stop constructed of the pitches 8', 4', nazard 2 2/3', 2', and tierce 1 3/5', orchestrated with woodwinds, vibraphone, celesta, and harp. The gradual crescendo of the Moderato Poco Animato comes to a grand climax in the paroxysmal eruption of the Maestoso Aggressivo, featuring full brass with bells in the air. Once again, solo clarinet recalls the opening theme, leading to a culminating, grand restatement with full orchestra.
III - Sonnet of Praise
(Performance time: ca. 4 min.)
In Neo-Baroque Style
Based on the hymn Come, Thou Fount as cantus firmus.
(A version of this movement is available as an organ~keyboard duet. Click here for information about Sonnet of Praise for Organ.)
2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets, timpani, 1 percussion, strings in 5 Parts.
IV - An Epistle for Pharaoh
(Performance time: ca. 8 min.)
Based on the American spiritual Go Down, Moses as cantus firmus.
2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trombones, tuba, 2 percussion, strings in 5 parts.
V - Choral Fantasia on Deep River
(Performance time: ca. 17 min.)
The seventeen-minute work for symphony orchestra and mixed SATB festival chorus was premiered at U.K. on November 30, 1999 at the University of Kentucky's Singletary Center for the Fine Arts.
2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, 1 percussionist, harp, SATB festival chorus, strings in 5 parts.
Program note: The orchestral score calls for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, suspended cymbal, tambourine, tam-tam, triangle, harp, mixed SATB festival choir, and strings (duration: 17 minutes).
Supplementary to the American spiritual, Deep River, there are two additional themes which pervade the clearly-delineated sectional form of the work. The introduction (Andante moderato ed appassionato, 4/4) opens with the first, an ominous minor subject in the 'cellos and basses. Melodic fragments of Deep River foreshadow the choir's entrance. At the moment the words "where all is peace" are sung, the foreboding first theme reenters as menacing counterpoint.
The second theme, a lilting melody for oboe, follows immediately in the section marked Più mosso. Pizzicato strings and triangle enhance the syncopation by stressing offbeats. The harmonies and melodic flow, almost entirely pentatonic, suggest a joyful assembly. The bright, second theme in major, as with the earlier Deep River melody, is once again interrupted by theme one. The conflict between supplementary themes grows more intense until the choir offers a more hopeful message, “I want to cross over into campground.” Partially transformed into major, the first theme leads to a Tranquillo choral passage based on models found in the cantatas of J. S. Bach.
The melody of Deep River and theme two victoriously take the ascendancy, along with the formerly-threatening theme one as melodic and pedal point support. It is significant that a major fragmental block of theme one (the entire second measure) which appeared previously to be so much at odds is in fact identical in rhythmic form and melodic shape to the noncombative Deep River motive. All three themes, then, were intrinsically bound together, and triumphantly emerge at long last, fully healed, harmonious, and unified.