A black roller is a burning wind and dust storm often experienced in the western United States. Stories of black rollers tell of men and women driven to desperation by the parching of their skin, throats and noses. The music for this composition takes the point of view of a group of people watching the approach of a black roller, feeling the deathly stillness, then the light rippling wind, then the storm which engulfs them as they struggle to hold themselves and their possessions against the wind, and finally the aftermath of the storm. Black Roller was commissioned by Robert Levine, principal violist of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and was premiered at the Grand Teton Music Festival, Grand Teton, Wyoming, June 1981.