Native Dances began as a request last year by students asking me to compose a piece for them. Since it was our school’s 50th birthday, I figured it was a perfect moment to write something that not only the students would enjoy, but celebrate some of our school’s culture.
Composed in an overture form, the piece brings together melodies or chords that represent something about West. The first melody is based from a Michigan Native-American folk song representing our school’s nickname with a rhythmic undertone. The countermelody in the sax and horn is original, loosely based on the school fight song. In the second section, the harmonic and rhythmic ideas have their basis in one of our famous graduate’s music. In the middle slow lyrical section, the oboe solo is a melodic inversion, finishing with a return of the intro. In the final section, the first melody and countermelody are reversed in roles, leading to a powerful ending. The use of extra drums in the last section again brings in the Native-American theme.