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This World Alive

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This World Alive for Wind Ensemble and Film Projection by Steve Danyew | stevedanyew.comGrade 5 – Wind Ensemble & Film Projection
Year of Composition: 2013
Length: 15:00 | View Score | Listen:

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Printed Score & Parts + Film DVD: $449.99
Printed Score Only: $85

How to Purchase:
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Live performance video
Texas A&M University – Commerce Wind Ensemble
Conducted by Philip Clements

See live performance videos of the Nazareth College Wind Symphony (part 1, part 2), conducted by Jared Chase and the Illinois State University Symphonic Band (here), conducted by Dan Belongia.

More About This Piece

This work was commissioned by wind ensembles from the following institutions:

Abilene Christian University University of California – Davis
Arkansas State University University of Central Oklahoma
Bethel College University of Delaware
Claflin University University of Miami
Clear Creek High School University of Portland
Clemson University University of Southern Mississippi
Cornell University University of Tennessee at Martin
Eastman School of Music Henderson State University
Illinois State University Sheridan College
Nazareth College Texas A&M University – Commerce
Pacific University Texas Christian University
Spring Arbor University Texas Tech University
University of Alabama Huntsville Troy University
West Liberty University


  • What kind of technological gear will I need to perform the piece?
    The ideal setup is a large screen located above the wind ensemble.  The film comes on 2 DVDs – one with an HD QuickTime file to be played from a computer (ideal), and one that will play in standard DVD players (slightly lower resolution).  You will need a computer (or DVD player), screen(s), and a projector for each screen.  There is no audio on the film, so you will not need any audio equipment.  Conductors may want a small screen monitor to show the film directly in front of them, but this is not necessary.
  • Is there a click track? How does the conductor stay in sync with the film?
    No, there is no click track.  There are a number of “open sections” in the music that are flexible and can be shorter or longer depending on each individual performance.  Those sections allow the music and film to generally stay in sync.  The film contains certain visual “cues” which help the conductor cue new musical sections.
  • How difficult is the music?
    This is a Grade 5-level work.

Program Notes

Photograph of the Grand Canyon by Cuyler Bryant

A few years ago, good friends of mine left me a number of large items that they didn’t want to move with them out of state.  Among those items were two framed Ansel Adams prints – striking black and white landscapes which captivated me.  This was my first experience with Ansel Adams and after learning more about the famed photographer and his work, I realized that he represented the kind of artist that I strive to be.  He greatly valued his artistic process and craftsmanship, but ultimately his tools and craft were a means to capture the beauty in the world.

The music in this piece ranges from very quiet and serene to bold and powerful, which mirrors my interpretation of much of Ansel’s work.  Within his photographs, there is often an incredible beauty captured but also a sense of great power and strength.  Our natural environment is filled with this dichotomy and it is a concept I enjoy incorporating into music.  The first three notes of the piece (C, D, B) represent an important unifying motive, which I develop throughout the work.  In addition, I layer and develop a number of motives and instrumental colors through multiple sections to tie the whole work together.

The film, produced by filmmaker Cuyler Bryant, also incorporates this concept of layering and developing motives.  Cuyler, a longtime friend and colleague brought a wonderful vision and visual creativity to this project.  When we first began discussing ideas for the project, I showed him the 200+ photographs from the early 1940s that Ansel Adams produced for the US government.  We agreed that we would use these photographs as the inspiration for the project; aside from that, I wanted to leave the 15-minute film to Cuyler’s creativity.  He came up with a wonderful plan for incorporating Ansel’s photographs in many intriguing ways, presented within the context of Cuyler’s original filming and artistry.  In October 2012, Cuyler decided to visit the Grand Canyon to take footage and gather inspiration for the project.  The final product is a masterful combination of Cuyler’s original work and Ansel’s iconic photographs.

In terms of our collaborative process, Cuyler and I talked frequently throughout the 2012 year regarding many details of the project including the tone, structure, and logistics of keeping the music and film somewhat in sync. Throughout the summer and fall of 2012, I wrote the music and Cuyler gathered footage for the film.  As we moved deeper into the creation of the work, I sent sections of the music to Cuyler and he began crafting a visual counterpart.  Once Cuyler had the complete score, he created his final edit and sent me a copy, and I watched his captivating footage for the first time.  Together, we reviewed the final product and made a few adjustments to bring the work to where it is today.

I want to thank all the consortium members whose support made this project possible.  I appreciate each and every one of them and I am glad that they could all share in the creation of this work.  I also owe a special word of thanks to conductor Timothy Shade who led the consortium and began discussing the idea of a winds and film project with me long before we knew where it would lead.

The title of this work is inspired by a quote by Ansel Adams, which seems to perfectly sum up the vision and inspiration for this project:

“The whole world is, to me, very much ‘alive’ — all the little growing things, even the rocks. I can’t look at a swell bit of grass and earth, for instance, without feeling the essential life — the things going on within them. The same goes for a mountain, or a bit of the ocean, or a magnificent piece of old wood.”[1]

[1] 1984. Center for Creative Photography, Issues 20-29, p. 114. Tucson: University of Arizona.


1 Piccolo
3 Flutes
2 Oboes
2 Bassoons
3 Clarinets in Bb
1 Bass Clarinet in Bb
2 Alto Saxophones in Eb
1 Tenor Saxophone in Bb
1 Baritone Saxophone in Eb
3 Trumpets in Bb
4 Horns in F
3 Trombones
1 Euphonium
1 Tuba
1 Double Bass
5 Percussion