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Tucson composer turns attention to election in latest COVID era work

Tucson composer turns attention to election in latest COVID era work

Corona Waltz

The volunteer Foothills Phil orchestra, led by composer and clarinetist Bob Atwell, recorded Atwell’s “Corona Waltz” in June for a YouTube.

Tucson composer Bob Atwell has added an election-themed work to his growing COVID pandemic-era catalogue.

Atwell and musicians from the volunteer multigenerational Foothills Phil released a Zoom-style video of "Finger Rock," a piece commissioned by fellow Phil's musician and videographer Charles David Young. Young has played trumpet in the ensemble for seven years.

“This is an historic period and there is a lot of anxiety and people are trying to deal with it in their own way," Young said, adding that he hopes the work encourages people to become engaged in the election and to “provide an artistic outlet" for his fellow orchestra members.

"Finger Rock" has some dissonant exclamations and a quivering sense of urgency throughout that seems to capture the tense mood of the country as it deals with the COVID-19 pandemic and the presidential election.

Atwell said he hopes people walk away from the work with "a sense of determination mixed with cautious hope and optimism for a more reasonable and rational future."

The performance included musicians outside of the Phil including Tucson Symphony Orchestra cellist Anne Gratz. 

This is the third work Atwell has composed since the pandemic began last March.

Atwell and Young recruited members of the Phil last summer to perform Atwell's "Corona Waltz," a delightful, uplifting work that has gotten more than 1,200 views on YouTube.

In September, Atwell and Young collaborated again on "Overture for Equality," commissioned last summer by Young's brother who lives in Texas. Young said his brother wanted the piece to capture the mood of the country as it dealt with the ongoing civil unrest surrounding this year's nationwide social-justice protests.

Young said he and Atwell decided to focus "Overture" on equality, which was at the root of the protests. The performance featured an orchestra of 60 musicians from across the country.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@tucson.com. On Twitter @Starburch


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