Gwyneth Walker Fanfare Interlude and Finale Program Notes
After earning her doctorate from Connecticut’s Hartt School of Music, Gwyneth Walker taught at Oberlin College Conservatory. This piece comes from that early part of her career, and was a commission from an orchestra in Washington, D.C.
The first (two-minute-long) was a concert-opening fanfare that was first performed in 1978. Other orchestras wanted longer pieces, so she expanded it into the present work. While Walker duplicates no one, the music sounds ‘American,’ sitting comfortably alongside John Williams or Aaron Copland. Some of its rhythmic drive, with consonant harmonies, anticipates John Adams and other ’80’s minimalists. Its central movement introduces its melodies with featured solo woodwinds, and uses congas in the percussion section. The finale returns to some earlier themes and materials, employing lively and challenging time signatures.
Some of her later works include settings or arrangements of American poetry and folk-tunes. Her music, especially choral music, is performed hundreds of times a year and has been publically successful, but less popular in the academic composition world, with its emphasis on fellowships and awards. Walker left Oberlin and academia in 1982, and has lived since then, on a dairy farm near Burlington, VT. Some orchestral works composed for family concerts in Vermont include a setting of “A Bicycle Built for Two,” or depict a tennis match.
Walker remains impressively active as a published composer of chamber music and choral works, and also travels to work with various groups.