Chelkash Overture by Peter J Hopkins

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Chelkash Overture

Performance Notes

Chelkash Overture is inspired by the short story Chelkash by Russian author Maxim Gorky. It opens with the brass blowing air through their instruments in order to imitate the sound of wind and waves near the ocean. If a ship's bell is not available, a brake drum may be used instead. At measure 45, the F horn cues in the alto saxophone parts should only be used if there are no horns in the ensemble (generally, cues are only provided for indispensable parts on less common instruments, and should only be played if necessary). Also note that the bass trombone part has cues in case it must be played on a tenor trombone. At measure 52, the alto saxophones and trumpets should be barely audible within the overall texture. At measure 145, even though it will feel slower, the tempo should not actually change until the ritardando six measures later.

The percussion roll at the beginning of the Organ Chorale should be long and dramatic, building up anticipation. The Organ Chorale section is not only the climax of the piece, but will require special attention due to its construction. It's a four part chorale, with each part doubled at the octave, perfect 12th, and perfect 15th. This is to simulate the sound of pipe organ registration. The “1 only” parts in the flutes and clarinets are playing the perfect 12th, and therefore must be played perfectly in tune, in time, and not too loud; otherwise, they will just sound wrong. These parts may be omitted if absolutely necessary, but only as a last resort.

In the Moderate Dance section, don't be tempted to rush. Even though the first phrase is a piccolo solo, it may really be considered a duet with the snare drum. The accompaniment for the clarinet solo at measure 183 should sound like bagpipes, so the flutes should use little or no vibrato. At measure 199, don't let the oboes overpower the flutes; they are only harmonizing with the bass clarinet and piccolo. At measure 207, the upper woodwinds should be eclipsed by the low voices with the chorale melody, so don't worry too much about them getting covered up. Notice the molto ritardando four measures from the end. Feel free to slow down a lot to make the ending dramatic. Also, the ship's bell at the end should sound disconnected from everything else, so don't try to 'make it fit'.

If alto clarinets are available, they should double the alto saxophone parts. Likewise, contra alto clarinets should play the baritone saxophone part, including appropriate cues. Contra bass clarinets should play the bass clarinet part, sounding an octave lower. The string bass part is identical to and interchangeable with the tuba part.


Piccolo, Flute 1&2, Oboe 1&2, Bassoon 1&2, Clarinet 1,2,3, Bass Clarinet, Alto Sax 1&2, Tenor Sax, Bari Sax, Trumpet 1,2,3, F Horn 1,2,3,4, Trombone 1&2, Bass Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba, Timpani, Mallets, Percussion 1&2

Look at the first and last pages of the score.

Listen to Chelkash Overture.

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Copyright 2012 Peter Hopkins