Phenomenal Women

Concerto for Wind Quintet

Commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra (ACO)

Valerie Coleman

Duration: 27'
Instrumentation:wwq / 2,1,2,1 / 2,2,btrbn,1 / timp,hp,str

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Premiered by Imani Winds and ACO at Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall, November 2nd, 2018

1. Maya  2. Katherine  3. Caravana  4. Serena  5. Michelle  6. Claressa


Description from the composer: “Orpheus Chamber Orchestra approached me with a special request, to create a version of PW in which the soloists parts are embedded throughout the orchestra. It seemed like an easy thing to do, but instead I decided to take the piece a slightly different direction, condensing the 6 movements into 4, where the material is not simply reassigned, but developed further into something that is more organic to the intimate nature of a chamber orchestra. The biggest example of this is the 4th movement, Serena, in which new material was introduced to transform the former inner movement into a finale, and the the second movement, Caravana, where the flute cadenza is slightly shortened to accommodate new developments within the pre-existent material. 

PHENOMENAL WOMEN is a concerto for Wind Quintet and Chamber Orchestra to be premiered by Imani Winds and American Composers Orchestra on November 2nd, 2018, with a following performance by Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at the Library of Congress in 2019. Inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem and book, PHENOMENAL WOMAN is intended to shout an empowered tone as the arc of the multi-movement work leaps through storied moments of adversity and achievement.

Musical motifs are drawn from Angelou’s sensuous and peppery verses, carrying emboldened harmonies and improvisational-stylized riffs from the soli, evolving into virtuoso exchanges between forces.

Each movement contains an overview of pivotal moments and characteristics found within the lives of each ‘shero’, that serve as catalysts from which main movements emerge and develop. The spirit and process behind the movements are informed by the efforts of phenomenal women who have energized me through their transcendental efforts: the struggles that poet Maya Angelou faced her life and her impact in the lives of women globally, how Olympic Gold medalist Boxer Claressa Shields is making a difference in her hometown of Flint, Michigan; a town ravaged by contaminated water, athlete Serena Williams’ ongoing perseverance on the tennis court to become one the greatest athletes of all time, Michelle Obama’s grace under pressure as the First Lady, mom and advocate for families and children, and the courage of immigrant mothers who have risked their lives to enter the United States and are fighting to reclaim their children. The segments are written with the capabilities and personalities of each Imani Winds member in mind.

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