Two Great Adventures was commissioned by my good friend and talented trumpeter Andy Roseburrough for himself and his sister Laurel (an equally talented hornist). They were interested in two things in particular: that the piece be challenging, and that it be fun, both to play and to listen to. With this in mind, I wanted to write a showpiece that portrayed two contrasting types of whimsy: something joyful followed by something crazy.
The first movement, “The Cliffs at Holiday,” had a very literal inspiration: I began this movement during a business vacation in southern England. One of the most memorable experiences of that vacation for me was taking a day trip to Dover, where I got to see the white cliffs and tour Dover castle. It was a beautiful sunny day without a care in the world aside from sore feet and sunburn. At the same time, there was a great majesty to that place, having survived two world wars without tarnishing its natural beauty. This movement captures both the joy and majesty through small fanfaric gestures interlaced with playful melodies and accompaniment motives.
The second movement, “When the Wizards Get Involved,” was inspired by something else almost entirely different: my re-reading of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit on that same trip. I kept having glimpses of Bilbo Baggins yelling excitedly, “I’m going on an adventure!”—an adventure that, let’s be honest, Tolkien never lets end as well as hoped. It just seems in the Middle Earth universe that whenever the wizards get involved in anything, any holiday, journey, or quest can be immediately turned on its head into something needlessly intense and hectic. Much in the same spirit as other brass solo features I’ve written, I captured this craziness via shifting odd meters at a fast tempo, interweaving melodic lines, and some scattering of twelve-tone rows here and there. This movement really gives the players’ technical chops a chance to shine!