Featured Content: Michael Markowski’s Shadow Rituals

Featured Content: Michael Markowski’s Shadow Rituals

This month’s featured title is Michael Markowski’s Shadow Rituals, a wonderful piece for young band that’s available today in SmartMusic. Markowski describes this rhythmic and energetic piece as a dark and mystical dance – a reflection of something primitive or ancient.

Click the play button below to hear a recording of Shadow Rituals. Click on the cover to follow along in the score. Mr. Markowski offers background on the inspiration of the piece and provides performance notes, both of which can be found beneath the score below.

Link to MP3 file of Shadow Rituals:

Michael Markowski on his Inspiration for Shadow Rituals

I can remember sitting in my junior high school band reading through my first Frank Ticheli piece. I remember it because I found his style so unlike the other arrangements and “standards” that we performed. Now, several years later, I realize the remarkable inspiration Ticheli’s music has made on my own writing and growth as a musician.

Because of this, Shadow Rituals was written particularly for the Manhattan Beach Music Frank Ticheli Composition Contest and I dedicate it humbly to Frank Ticheli. [Editor’s note: Shadow Rituals won first prize in the Frank Ticheli Composition Contest]

Performance Notes from Michael Markowski

A few comments on conducting are in order: tempo is very important to maintaining the energy of the piece. Particularly for the first 45 measures it might be helpful to conduct using “small beat patterns,” that is, relatively tiny conducting gestures for the quarter notes, and somewhat larger conducting gestures for the main beat. There is more than one possible approach. You might conduct:

You might conduct:

  • Quarter, quarter, quarter, half
  • Dotted-quarter, dotted-quarter, half
  • Dotted-half, halt to emphasize the 3+2 nature of many of the 5/4 measures

Since the contrapuntal accompanying lines will not always be in the same rhythmic pattern as the melodic lines, you will need to consider both the overall effect of the lines’ relationships to one another, and each line’s rhythmic detail to best reach your own interpretation. Most important, you must strive to keep the intensity and tempo at an exciting and consistent level.

For the calmer section (measures 82-116), it seems appropriate to conduct in a “halftime” feel. That is, conducting only the stronger beats. The same will work for the climax (measures 152-`168), which should be conducted in “one.”

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