I. Sings to the Night Sky II. At High Noon
Tuba, piano or wind ensemble: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 3 Bb clarinets, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 3 alto saxophones, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 3 Bb trumpets, 4 horns, 3 trombones, tuba, double bass, timpani, 3 percussion: [1 - celeste, orchestra bells, vibraphone, xylophone, bass drum, bongos], [2 - marimba, orchestra bells, sizzle cymbal, suspended cymbal, wind chimes (mellow), snare drum], [3 - drum kit, temple blocks, triangle (medium), sleigh bells, water gong, tam-tam (large)]
Commissioned by the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival, in celebration of their 25th anniversary.
Premiered August 15, 2010 at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Twin Lake, Michigan, with tuba soloist Jens Bjorn-Larsen and the BLFAC Festival Band, conducted by Donald Flickinger.
Libby Larsen Publishing
I’ve composed in moments for the performer to create abstract bear language. I invite each performer experiment with this and find a solutions which feel right for your own approach to the piece.
Movement I, mm78-80
Growl– This should sound like a large bear growling, almost howling, at the beauty of the moon.
Movement II, m131-132 and mm153-155
Multiphonic – Substitute 8va multiphonic or another substitute if necessary
Growing up in and living as I do in Minnesota, I’ve spent much of my life out of doors; running, cross country skiing, hiking, boating, and all manner of being out on the water and in the woods – bears are part of this world. You happen upon them and they happen upon you. Both of you are simply outside, walking around, poking your noses into things for the day. The thing is, bears are big. There is nothing else like a bear. If you happen upon a squirrel, or even a deer, you don’t think much of it. But a bear is a different matter. You stop. If they don’t run away from you, they pretty much let you be as they go on about their business. You watch them, mesmerized. You listen, and in the stillness of the woods, you discern their intricate language of huffs, grunts, snuffles, paw slaps, jaw clicks and growls. It is beautiful, haunting and completely bear. You are struck with their dignity. You are lonely for the want of living in their world if only for a moment.
Ursa, a composition in two movements, is music from the soul of the bear articulated through the tuba. The first movement imagines the bear deep in the wilderness, at night, singing to the moon. The second movement places the bear in the same wilderness but at high noon, rustling about in its habitat.
-Libby Larsen, 2010