Woodland Odyssey

Michael Sweeney
MusicWorks, 2002


Woodland Odyssey (2002) begins with a menacing unison low brass and low woodwind introduction that eventually adds upper voices and builds to a crescendo into measure 17, where the tempo changes to“Faster, with Drive”.  This section becomes faster with a more lyrical mezzo forte clarinet lead punctuated by brass and saxophone with an accented accompaniment.  Trumpets take over the melody in a similar style at measure 29, and then at measure 36 the clarinet and trumpet pass the melody back and forth.  At measure 52 the tempo changes to “Majestically”, note values become longer, and trumpet and flute share the melody. At measure 68 we get a recapitulation of the introduction building to an energetic finish at measure 82.  This is an exciting piece for a very young band that sounds much more difficult than it is!

Performance Notes

Woodland Odyssey (2002) was commissioned by the Wilkerson Intermediate School Band, located in The Woodlands, Texas.  Bill Porter and Wendy Zimmerman are the directors.

Musical Challenges

There are several musical elements in this piece that could provide a challenge to a young band.  For most instruments, range is not an issue, but the first clarinet part does require the player to go across the break and flute does extend to their high Eb. The key of c minor is close enough to Eb Major that it shouldn’t be too difficult, but students should be reminded of the difference so that they can listen for a new tonality, maybe also pointing out the “menacing” quality of the key. There are several tempo transitions that should be rehearsed thoroughly until the young performers are comfortable with the transitions.  The more chorale style “Majestically” section is an opportunity to work with your students to sustain their musical lines and find a balance between the moving quarter/eighth note melody and the whole note accompaniment.  There is one 2/4 measure thrown in at measure 73 that can surprise the unwary!  Finally, measures 79 & 80 are two tied whole notes in a crescendo that may test the lung capacity of a young group.

About the Composer

Michael Sweeney is currently Director of Band Publications for Hal Leonard Corporation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one of the largest publishers of printed music in the world. Michael is directly responsible for the development, production, recording and marketing of new publications for school bands. In addition, he contributes as a composer and arranger in all instrumental areas, and is particularly known for his writing at the younger levels for concert band and jazz. Since joining the company in 1982, Hal Leonard has published over 500 of his compositions.

Mr. Sweeney is a 1977 graduate of Indiana University (Bloomington), where he earned a bachelor's degree in music education and studied composition with Bernard Heiden, John Eaton and Donald Erb. Prior to working for Hal Leonard he was a band director in Ohio and Indiana, working with successful concert, jazz and marching programs at all levels from elementary to high school.

A winner of multiple ASCAP awards, his Ancient Voices (1994) and Imperium (1992) are featured in the acclaimed Teaching Music Through Performance series by GIA Publications. Other compositions such as Black Forest Overture (1996), The Forge of Vulcan (1997) and Distant Thunder of the Sacred Forest (2003) have become staples in the repertoire for middle school bands. He has received commissions ranging from middle school and high school bands to the Eastman Wind Ensemble and Canadian Brass. His works appear on numerous state contest lists and his music is regularly performed throughout the world. Michael is also in demand as a clinician and conductor for honor bands and festivals.

Michael resides north of Milwaukee where he enjoys fishing and playing the bodhrán.