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Horseshoe Curve

Year of composition
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
9 minutes
Modern classical music

Horseshoe Curve was composed for the Altoona Area High School Orchestra, Kelly Detwiller, director. This composition is in three movements.

The first movement, "Man Versus Nature", is moderate and intense, paying tribute to the designers and laborers for the Horseshoe Curve project. It uses parts of three railroad songs, "Drill, Ye Tarriers" by Thomas Casey, "I’ve Been Working on the Railroad", and "Dinah". The introduction uses phrases from "I’ve Been Working on the Railroad" that are disguised by ending on a different note than the traditional song. The main body of the movement uses phrases of "Drill, Ye Tarriers" that are interrupted by phrases of the other two songs as well as original material by the composer. It developes in intensity as the movement progresses, but ends softly, suggesting the ongoing labor of the project.

The second movement, "Doorway to the West" is a celebration of the completion of the project. It uses "She’ll Be Coming ’Round the Mountain" in fragments, in canon, and as a basis for a "hoe down" and a "waltz" variation. The celebration becomes wild at the end as all ideas come together at once.

The third movement, "Growth and Opportunity" is slow and expansive in the beginning with a quicker section at the end. It depicts the growth of Altoona as a result of Horseshoe Curve. The initial idea that appears in the celli is expanded and developed, therefore evolving into a constant stream of new, but related, ideas.

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