Non Sequitur Music


Play Cauldron from a live performance
by the New York Youth Symphony,
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conducting










































Composer: David Heuser
Instrumentation: Orchestra (3232 4231, pno, harp, timp, 3 perc, strings)
Year Composed: 1995
Duration: 8 minutes
Pages (score): 38

  • Rental: $80.00
  • Purchase: $200.00

The Voice of the Composer: New Music from Bowling Green, Vol. 2
This piece can be heard on the CD New Music from Bowling Green, Vol. 2 (performed by the Bowling Green Philharmonia, Emily Freeman Brown, conductor), available from Albany and Amazon.

Representative Performances:

  • Asheville Summer Community Orchestra, Earl Hefley, conductor, Asheville, North Carolina (July 2003)
  • New England Philharmonic, Boston, MA (November 2001)
  • Crane Symphony Orchestra, Potsdam, New York (October, 1997)
  • Eugene Symphony, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor (May, 1997)
  • Bowling Green Philharmonia, Christopher Hisey, conductor, (October, 1996)
  • New York Youth Symphony, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor (February, 1996)

Percussion Required:
4 tomtoms, 2 timbales, snare drum, bass drum, triangle, 3 suspended cymbals, xylophone, vibraphone, crotales [one octave]

Performance by the Eugene Symphony, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor, reviewed in the Register-Guard (Eugene, OR) by Michael Souther on 5/29/97:

"After intermission, Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the orchestra presented the West Coast premiere of a work commissioned by Harth-Bedoya for the New York Youth Symphony. Composed by David Heuser in 1995, "Cauldron" is an exciting, dynamic tour-de-force, with a relentless ostinato, here taken up by the piano, then the harp, then migrating around the ensemble, never completely disappearing.

The performance was excellent, the large orchestra was at its best, and the energy never waned. All sections of the orchestra got to shine in turn, and the playing left one full of admiration both for the musicians and for the young composer of this fine work."

The same performance reviewed by Fred Crafts on GaurdLine 5/15/97:

"Although the orchestra seemed uninspired with Mozart's overture to "The Abduction from the Seraglio," it certainly connected with Heuser's propulsive "Cauldron." This raucous contemporary piece, being given its West Coast premiere, was built on a driving rhythm pattern that erupted into cha-cha-chas, with brass and percussion that stirred the blood."

This is a little unusual, but the Asheville Jubilee! Summer Community Orchestra performed Cauldron in July of 2003, and the conductor, Earl Hefley, wrote the following in his letter to me afterwards:

"I must tell you that your composition turned out to be the 'hit' of the summer for my orchestra. But it didn't start out that way. Dear old Harold - age 91(!) - asked after about half of our first attempted reading, "who the heck is David Howser?" I explained who David 'Hiser' is... Of course for that first reading I had no percussion, and may of the inner parts were not successfully counted! A couple of nights later Harold called and practically begged me not to play the piece. I tactfully explained we needed to give it some more time.

After the second rehearsal and another hearing of the CD - and my gathering of some percussion troops - a majority were warming to Cauldron and by the third rehearsal they were fired up.

We played some other interesting and enjoyable music last summer. But the piece which was the most memorable and about the orchestra felt most proud was Cauldron."

Program Notes:

Cauldron was commissioned and premiered by the New York Youth Symphony. Because it was written for a youth symphony, I wanted the piece to be lively, rhythmic and upbeat, as well as something that would be enjoyable to perform. On the other hand, I think there is a dark quality to this piece (something that is found in most of my music), a darkness which for me the title connotes.

A near-continuous eighth-note ostinato is the main thread running through the piece, providing a backdrop over which the rest of the music is heard. Ostinati are common in my music, and I often think of them as a metaphor for the unchanging, uncaring universe over which time, history and our lives play out. Even though this ostinato affects and is affected by the foreground music, I feel the metaphor holds true in this piece as well. Despite that, this is not a programmatic piece; if anything it has neo-classical sensibilities.

Formally, the piece divides into three sections which could be labeled A-B-A', although the second A section spends a substantial amount of time exploring a new area. The outer sections are generally more active and louder than the central section (although both A sections begin softly), and focus on fragments of melody and short threefold repetitions of chords. In contrast, the middle part of the piece features longer legato lines played by solo wind instruments. Eventually, though, these lines are also fragmented and slowly piled up on each other in a gradually crescendo of activity.

Although this piece has strong tone centers, it is not traditionally tonal like 18th- and 19th-century music. In the outer sections, the repetitive eighth-notes center around G; in the middle section it is E that is the primary pitch. Only once does the eighth-note pulse stop, and that is during the transition from the B section to the return of A. Near the end of the piece, however, the ostinato transforms, and instead of pitched eighth-notes, it becomes sixteenth-notes played by drums.

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