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Wake for K.G. — a ritual for brass and percussion
5 brass instruments (horns, flügelhorns, euphoniums, tubas, ad libitum) and 3 percussion (snare drums, bass drums, tam-tams)
in memoriam Kenneth Gaburo (1926-1993)
MSU Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble; Earle Louder, conductor
Nova Ensemble; Joseph Klein, conductor
Wake for K.G. was composed in February of 1993 as a memorial response to the recent death of composer Kenneth Gaburo. The work is in five sections, each divided into subunits of irregularly alternating long and short sections based upon proportions derived from the Morse Code pattern for K-E-N-N-E-T-H G-A-B-U-R-O. These nested sections are not defined by clear thematic or gestural contrasts, but rather by subtle fluctuations in timbre and texture within the five brass instruments. Except for these gradual and continuous transformations, the brass instruments create an essentially static field of sound based upon the five pitches derived from the composer's name (kEnnEtH GABuro, = E B G A Bb). The rapid tattoos in the snare drums, which delineate the five sections (corresponding to the syllables in the composer's name), are derived from Morse Code transcriptions of the composer's birth and death dates, and continual knells in the tam-tams correspond with each of the thirteen letters of his name. The repeated rhythmic patterns in the bass drums that continue throughout the work are based upon the same Morse Code patterns that determine the structure of the entire work (the composer's name being divided between the two drums, which play in different tempi). The result is a sonic ritual celebrating the passage from life to death.
Wake for K.G. was first performed by the Nova Ensemble at the University of North Texas on 2 March 1993.