In the initial stages of thinking about Concert Dances, James Smith and I had many conversations about the nature of concert winds. Listening to James lovingly describe the instruments and color potential of the wind ensemble was the inspirations of this piece. With the ears of an orchestral conductor, James talked about the symphonic possibilities of a wind ensemble -- wondering how a composer might apply the sensibilities of orchestral composition to concert winds. Through this inspiration, I eagerly began work and I was honored that this new piece would be premiered at the 1995 Centennial Celebration for the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.

In each of the four movements of Concert Dances I focussed on a single aspect more common to orchestral composition than to wind ensemble composition. The first dance, "Rock Dance," exploits additive melody, asking the performers to blend color and extend lines by stringing together a lyric melody, fragment by fragment, choir by choir. In "Solo Dancing," I ask the opposite by giving longer solo lines to a single flute, oboe, trumpet, and euphonium. "Dance in the Dark" creates a palate of blended color, in which the flutes play a solo line while various other colors emerge and submerge in short glimpses. In this dance, I used the winds more as I would use strings in a symphonic work and in particular, I placed the piano in a chamber symphonic role. "Rag Rhythm" combines all three of these techniques -- additive melody, solo melody, and orchestral texture and color -- in a short, abstract rag for concert winds.