Awakening Hills

Richard L. Saucedo
MusicWorks, 2003


The first section of the piece is filled with soaring horn and saxophone figures, along with a woodwind continuous eighth note section punctuated with accents from the brass and percussion.

The lyrical portion of the piece begins with a solo flute melody accompanied by a clarinet choir.  After the upper woodwinds restate the lyrical theme, the piece builds intensely to a very passionate version of the melody accompanied with full wind scoring.

The last section starts like the beginning of the piece, but jumps quickly to a coda like section, once again using the continuous eighth note idea in woodwinds with brass and percussion accents. The piece comes to a triumphant conclusion with a powerful ensemble finale using rhythmic motives from earlier in the piece.

Performance Notes

Awakening Hills (2003), an overture style piece, was commissioned for the 2003 Iowa Middle School Honor Band and was premiered at the 2003 Iowa Bandmasters Association Convention in Des Moines.  The piece is named for Loess Hills in Iowa and combines powerful ensemble moments with subtle solos and a gentler middle theme.

Musical Challenges

In a piece that combines the power and majesty of the outer sections with the lyrical beauty of the middle section, there will be plenty of areas to note!  First and foremost is rhythmic precision.  There are so many places in this piece where three and four voices need to line-up vertically.  Maybe in a very close second is beautiful tone.  If performers allow a weak or airy tone, the energy of the accents and syncopated rhythms will be instantly lost.

Once the ensemble has established a good sense of time, rhythm, and vertical alignment, it would be a great idea to make sure everyone in the ensemble understands how each articulation marking should be performed.  With a piece as busy as Awakening Hills, uniformity of articulation is crucial to audience enjoyment and player alignment.

In the middle section, starting at 62, lyrical style playing is essential.  There are many beautiful lines weaving in and out of the flute solo, but each should be more prominent at some points and less prominent at others. As always, bring out moving notes and changes, de-emphasize held notes.

Saucedo writes some very aggressive percussion parts in this piece.  Please note that all percussion parts should be played with the correct dynamic markings to avoid balance problems in the thickly scored areas of the piece.

This is definitely an aggressive Grade 4, where no instrument is a passenger.  This piece is a lot of fun with the right ensemble, but may be defeating with others.

About the Composer

Richard Saucedo is currently Director of Bands and Performing Arts Department Chairman at Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana. Under his direction, Carmel bands have received numerous state and national honors. The Carmel High School Wind Symphony was invited to the Bands of America National Concert Band Festival in 1992 and 1999, and was named the Indiana State Champion concert band in 1999. The Carmel High School Marching Greyhounds, having been a consistent National finalist since 1995, was crowned the 2005 Bands of America Grand National Champion. Also in 2005, the Wind Symphony 1 was invited to perform at the prestigious Midwest Clinic in Chicago. The Indiana Bandmasters Association named Mr. Saucedo Indiana's "Bandmaster of the Year" for 1998-99.
The band program at Carmel currently serves 350 instrumentalists in four concert bands, four jazz ensembles, a 200-member marching band, a 140-member pep band, a competitive and non-competitive winter color guard, a competitive winter drumline, three music theory classes, a jazz improvisation class, a music technology class and two percussion classes.

Mr. Saucedo is a freelance arranger and composer, having released numerous marching band arrangements, concert band works and choral compositions. He is currently on the writing staff for Hal Leonard Corporation.

Mr. Saucedo is constantly in demand as an adjudicator, clinician and guest conductor. He has served as Music Caption Head for the Drum Corps Midwest Judges Guild and as a brass and music judge for Drum Corps International. Mr. Saucedo is currently brass arranger and music ensemble consultant for the DCI World Champion Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps from Rosemont, Illinois. The Cavaliers performed a show of original music by Mr. Saucedo during the 2002 Drum Corps International Season.

Mr. Saucedo did his undergraduate work at Indiana University in Bloomington and finished his master’s degree at Butler University in Indianapolis.