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Avian Escapades (2016)

For Woodwind Quintet

Flute, Oboe, Clarinet in Bb, Horn in F, Bassoon
First performance by the Blair Woodwind Quintet on September 26, 2016
Duration: 12 minutes

Live concert audio recording from World Premiere is available for archival purposes only and for private listening. If you would like to review the recording please Contact Augusta Read Thomas.

Avian Escapades is dedicated with admiration to Eleanor Lansing Thomas and Rama Bhaskara Rao

I: Hummingbirds – duration approx. 4 minutes and 30 seconds
II: Swans – duration approx. 4 minutes
III: Canaries– duration approx. 4 minutes

Movements can be played together, in the order listed above, or any movement can be played independently as a stand-alone work, or any two movements can be played as a pair in any order.

To be performed with dancers when feasible.
Program Note

If it is helpful to have abstract images in mind and ear as you hear the music, for movement #1, please imagine the musicians as playful, capricious, virtuosic hummingbirds darting around a garden, whizzing across multifaceted, rapid changing chord progressions in a bebop-like, fast tempo. For movement #2, swans majestically floating in a lake, as the morning sun gradually rises, are infused with Bill Evans’ impressionist harmony and trademark rhythmically independent, singing, melodic lines. For movement #3, please envision active, jaunty, and alert canaries crisscrossing the perfumes of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird Suite and Ornithology.

There are no quotes or paraphrases of any music in Avian Escapades. Every note of the quintet is part of an integrated, wholly original composition.

Avian Escapades is a re-orchestration of Avian Capriccio, which was commissioned by Axiom Brass in celebration of their 10th Anniversary and premiered by the Axiom Brass on September 16, 2016.


Blair Woodwind Quintet
Selected Reviews

M.L. Rantala, Classical Music Critic, Hyde Park Herald, April 18, 2023 "The emotional high of the afternoon came when, in brief remarks before her composition, Thomas referred to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the U. of C. as the two organizations that mean the most to her.
The three movements of “Avian Escapades” are each named for a different bird: hummingbirds, swans and canaries. The hummingbird section had electric excitement and the skewed chattering of the delightful be-bop influence was effective. The swan music offered lovely sweeps of sound. The canaries had their own unique jazzy language.”"

To obtain examination or performance material for this
Augusta Read Thomas work, please contact Nimbus Music Publishing.