Date of this Version
For Flute, oboe, Clarinet in B♭, Horn in F, and Bassoon.
Ascensions, for woodwind quintet, was composed for Quintessential in conjunction with the Historical Society of Quincy (IL) and Adams County’s current WWI exhibit.
The work, in two parts, suggests two key moments in the life of Quincy balloonist Thomas Baldwin’s life. “1887” was the year of his first balloon ascent and parachute jump from Singleton Park in Quincy. “1917” represents the year of America’s entry into WW I and Baldwin’s contributions to the U.S. Signal Corp balloon division.
As parallel musical analogies, 1887, suggestive of the slow ascent of a hot-air balloon, is written in a style somewhat reminiscent of the Late Romantic and Impressionistic music of the period. The second part, 1917, employs the more humorous and cynical Neo-Classic musical styles associated with 20th Century composers like Stravinsky and Prokofiev. And in a nod to American composer Charles Ives, this movement echoes short quotes from songs popular during the Great War, including “Over There” (George M. Cohen, 1917); the British music hall song “It’s A Long Way to Tipperary” (Judge & Williams, 1912); “Keep the Home Fires Burning” (Lena Gilbert Ford, 1914); “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag” (Welsh brothers George Henry & Felix Powell, 1915); and the slightly risqué French Army marching tune “Mademoiselle from Armentieres” (1830s, 1914).