Sinfonia di Festa (“Overture of Celebration”) was commissioned by the Plymouth Symphony (Michigan) to commemorate its 50th season in 1995-96. The piece was composed between the months of November 1995-February 1996, and received its premiere in concerts by the Plymouth Symphony on May 16 and 17 of 1996. Intended to capture the spirit of a celebration, Sinfonia opens with the full orchestra playing a fanfare-like theme. Gradually, the piece journeys through several melodic passages, including solos for many instruments. The melodies are interspersed with sharp attacking motifs in the brass and woodwind section, eventually returning to the fanfare gesture that opens the piece. The final section is based on ideas previously introduced, gradually building to a dramatic close.
Through Time and Place (Symphony No. 1) for symphony orchestra was composed in 2009-2010 for the Miami University Symphony Orchestra and conductor Ricardo Averbach to celebrate the Bicentennial of Miami University, which was founded in 1809. Rather than composing a work in the fashion of a short “fanfare” that would be typical for a celebratory piece, the composer chose to write a work in two movements to express depth, complexity, development, and change that musically connects to the long history of Miami University.
The musical landscape of Through Time and Place is constructed to show a range of character, from sections that are peaceful and reflective to those that exhibit tension and dissonance. The first movement, entitled ”Reflection,” begins with a four-note motive that serves as an important building block for the entire movement. Overall, the movement is intended as a gesture to the memory of days past, while the second movement, ”A New Destiny,” begins with optimistic energy that musically anticipates an exciting future.
Three Sacred Meditations for chorus, soprano soloist, and orchestra was composed in 2000 with the support of a Creative Artist Grant from The Michigan Council for the Arts. The first movement of Three Sacred Meditations is performed frequently as a stand-alone piece, and has been awarded prizes in national competitions including the Bluffton College Choral Composition Contest (first prize, 2004) and the Waging Peace Through Singing Competition (Oregon Bach Festival, 2002). The work was premiered by the Wayne State University Symphonic Chorus and Orchestra at Old St. Mary’s Church in Greektown, Detroit, on November 19, 2001, with soprano soloist Dana Lentini (the composer’s wife), to whom the work is dedicated. Texts are drawn from Scripture as follows:
Movement I: Peace I leave with you (Text from John 14:27) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Movement II: Renew a right spirit (Text from Psalms 51:10) Renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Movement III: Trust in the Lord (Text from Proverbs 3:1-6) The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments. For length of days, and long life, and peace shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him.
The Angel’s Journey was commissioned by conductor Douglas Bianchi and the Wayne State University Wind Symphony, receiving its premiere in Ann Arbor, MI in January, 1999. The work presents sections of contrasting moods and colors, ranging from atmospheric to rhythmic and driving. The harmonic language and musical texture of the work is also varied, balancing dissonant counterpoint with pan-diatonic lyricism. Written in memory of the composer’s grandparents, the work utilizes the letters of their names to create the three primary musical mottos that form the basis of the composition.
Dreamscape is a one-movement composition for chamber orchestra with the instrumentation of flute, oboe, clarinet in Bb, bassoon, horn in F, trumpet in Bb, trombone, percussion, and strings. The three main musical ideas in the work include a melodic passage, a short percussive background motive, and a “floating” accompaniment pattern (marked “dreamlike”). These three ideas migrate from one section of the orchestra to another, often appearing in different guises through development and variation. Many of the musical materials for the entire work are derived from the opening flute solo. The title of the piece was inspired by Roger Zelazny’s novella entitled The Dream Master. Dreamscape was composed in May-June 1994 and was recorded by the Krakow Philharmonic (Poland) in December 1994.
Thanks to Oakland University and to Wayne State University for so much support over the years that helped to make this project a reality. Special thanks to my wife, Dana Lentini, for her artistry and lifelong inspiration and support. — James Lentini
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