The Tempest

Robert W. Smith
Belwin-Mills, 1995


The Tempest (1995) is a programmatic work meant to depict a breaking storm at sea.  The piece begins with legato clarinet and low woodwind voices playing a warm half note line.  The other instruments join in the same form until the storm begins to pick up.  At measure 9, horns, trombones, saxophones, and clarinets play an accented quarter note melody while the other winds and percussion play a sparse accented accompaniment.

At measure 18, flutes (and later trumpets) play a dancing, skittering ostinato, perhaps emblematic of swirling winds at sea.  This ostinato is juxtaposed against the opening lyrical line (maybe the water of the sea?) for a nice contrasting effect.  As the piece continues to develop, voices become more agitated, writing becomes thicker, and accents become heavier.

Finally at 69 the entire band builds a six measure crescendo, ending with dissonant major second tied whole notes in the clarinet, alto saxophone, and horn crescendo.  The band does not let up, ending on a triumphant fortissimo unison G concert.

Performance Notes

The Tempest (1995) was conceived and written as a concert/festival work for the developing band.  It also serves as a musical vehicle to teach the concepts of phrasing, articulation, key modifications (accidentals), and musical texture.

Musical Challenges

The introductory statement in the clarinets and low woodwinds should convey a sense of mystery and impending energy.  The entire woodwind choir begins the second phrase culminating the brass entrance as the storm is unleashed.

Measure 9 should be interpreted as aggressively as possible.  The accents in the low brass and saxophones should be carefully rehearsed for consistency.  The flute/clarinet/percussion ostinato at measure 18 should be carefully balanced to ensure the rhythmic intensity among the parts.  In contrast, the melodic statement in the horns and saxophones should be as legato as possible.

The conductor should take whatever liberties are necessary at measure 45 to ensure the proper balance between musical lines.  The instrumentation of your ensemble should dictate the exact dynamic marking for each part.  In the same fashion, please pay particular attention to the dynamic indications beginning in measure 69.  Depending on instrumentation, adjust the dynamic level of each entrance to ensure an even crescendo.  The dissonant crescendo in the horns, saxophones, and clarinets in measure 73 should be exaggerated.  You may wish to divisi the as well if you have students who are comfortable over the break.

About the Composer

Robert W. Smith (b. 1958) is one of the most popular and prolific composers of concert band and orchestral literature in America today. He has over 600 publications in print with the majority composed and arranged through his long association with Warner Bros. Publications and the Belwin catalog. He is currently published exclusively by the C. L. Barnhouse Company and is the Vice-President of Product Development for C. L. Barnhouse and Walking Frog Records.

Mr. Smith's credits include many compositions and productions in all areas of the music field. His original works for winds and percussion have been programmed by countless military, university, high school, and middle school bands throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, South America and Asia. His Symphony #1 (The Divine Comedy), Symphony #2 (The Odyssey) and Africa: Ceremony, Song and Ritual have received worldwide critical acclaim. His educational compositions such as The Tempest, Encanto, and The Great Locomotive Chase have become standards for developing bands throughout the world. His numerous works for orchestras of all levels are currently some of the most popular repertoire available today. His music has received extensive airplay on major network television as well as inclusion in multiple motion pictures. His “Into The Storm” was featured on the CBS 2009 Emmy Awards telecast as the HBO production of the same name received the Emmy award. From professional ensembles such as the United States Navy Band and the Atlanta Symphony to school ensembles throughout the world, his music speaks to any audience.

As a conductor and clinician, Mr. Smith has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Europe, South America and Australia. He has recently completed the production of Symphony No. 3 (Don Quixote), the fourth in a series of compact disc recordings of his best-known works for concert band. In addition, he is co-creator of the Expressions Music Curriculum. This comprehensive Pre-K through 12 music program includes Band Expressions, an innovative new approach to teaching music through the band.

Mr. Smith is currently teaching in the Music Industry program at Troy University in Troy, AL. His teaching responsibilities are focused in music composition, production, publishing and business.