“A well-crafted piece that mixes blazing fanfare-like material with a sweet secondary tune that could have come from the pen of Aaron Copland”
The Providence Journal

New Beginnings was one of Peter Boyer’s earliest orchestral commissions, for the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, celebrating the opening of The New Bronson Hospital in 2000. The work has become quite popular on classical radio, with Boyer’s London Symphony Orchestra recording receiving thousands of broadcasts on stations throughout the United States since its release in 2001. New Beginnings has been heard from Carnegie Hall to the Kansas prairie, and adapted for such varied occasions as the 75th anniversary of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, background music on CBS This Morning, and in numerous arrangements for concert bands and marching bands, in addition to its many concert performances by such orchestras as the Houston Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic.

Instrumentation

3(II,III=picc).3(III=corA).3(III=bcl).3(III=cbsn)—4.3.3.1—timp.perc(4)—harp—pft(=cel)—strings

Duration

11:30

Composition Date and Commission

Composed 2000
Commissioned by Bronson Hospital for the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra to celebrate the opening of The New Bronson

Critical Acclaim

“The piece revealed a highly gifted composer with an impressive grasp of orchestration… Boyer also offered winning melodies, as during a quiet middle section that melded suggestions of Copland and the gentle repetitiveness of some current minimalist composers. A driving conclusion brought the audience to its feet in enthusiastic approval.”
The Kalamazoo Gazette

New Beginnings… is in Boyer’s most festive mode, replete with fanfares for trumpet and horns, yet so melodically rich and surely crafted that it rises above its light, occasional origin. The middle section has a heart-warming Barber-like theme for oboe, counterpoised by exhilarating flourishes with exuberant percussion writing.”
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

New Beginnings… combined open-hearted lyricism in the American vein, driving passages, fanfares and mixed meters, and created a soundtrack-like atmosphere.”
Intelligencer Journal/New Era, Lancaster, PA

“Music to celebrate the opening of a hospital might seem a curious selection for a symphony concert, but it’s actually remarkably appealing. The 12-minute piece evokes strong imagery of its subject, beginning with a celebratory fanfare from the trumpets and horns, followed by a lyrical theme of health and healing. New Beginnings is filled with an energy that propels us through the building project… toward a glorious finale.”
Sunday News, Lancaster, PA

View Performance History

— Premiered by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Raymond Harvey, conductor, at Miller Auditorium, Kalamazoo, September 22, 2000, and recorded September 23, 2000 for compact disc release by Bronson Hospital
— Performed by the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Peter Boyer, conductor, to celebrate the opening of the John Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, April 6, 2001
— Performed by the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, Peter Boyer, conductor, August 4, 2001
— Performed by the Transylvania Philharmonic at the American Music Festival in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Rachael Worby, conductor, October 10, 2003
— Performed by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Raymond Harvey, conductor, October 15 & 17, 2004
— Performed by the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra, Anne Harrigan, conductor, accompanied by video montage celebrating the 75th anniversary of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, August 5, 2005
— Performed by the Lancaster (Penn.) Symphony Orchestra, Stephen Gunzenhauser, conductor, June 27, 2008
— Performed by the Kansas City Symphony, Steven Jarvi, conductor, June 13, 2009 (“Symphony in the Flint Hills”)
— Performed by the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, Serbia, Stephen Gunzenhauser, conductor, September 12, 2009
— Performed by the Lancaster (Penn.) Symphony Orchestra, Stephen Gunzenhauser, conductor, January 15, 16, 17, 2010
(four performances given in conjunction with presentation of the Lancaster Symphony’s annual Composer’s Award)
— Performed by the Yakima (Washington) Symphony Orchestra, Lawrence Golan, conductor, September 18, 2010
— Performed by the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of New York, Phil Preddice, conductor, at Carnegie Hall, New York City, March 16, 2013
— Performed by the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra, Lawrence Golan, conductor, October 4, 2013
— Performed by the Bartlesville (Oklahoma) Symphony Orchestra, Lauren Green, conductor, October 12, 2013
— Performed by the York (Pennsylvania) Symphony Orchestra, Lawrence Golan, conductor, October 18, 2014
— Performed by the Omaha Symphony, Thomas Wilkins, conductor, September 18 & 19, 2015
— Performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Thomas Wilkins, conductor, December 5 & 6, 2015
— Performed by the Houston Symphony, Brett Mitchell, conductor, December 31, 2015
— Performed by the Corona (California) Symphony Orchestra, Marco Mejia, conductor, October 15, 2016
— Performed by the Texas Medical Center Orchestra, Libi Lebel, conductor, March 5, 2017
— Performed by the Colorado Symphony, Brett Mitchell, conductor (on program featuring Renée Fleming, soprano), September 9, 2017
— Performed by the Signature Symphony at TCC, Andrés Franco, conductor, September 23, 2017

— Kalamazoo Symphony premiere broadcast on WMUK, Kalamazoo, September 2000
— Recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra, Peter Boyer, conductor, at Abbey Road Studios, London, January 2 & 3, 2001; released on compact disc by Koch International Classics (#3-7523-2), June 2001; re-mastered and reissued on compact disc (and digital download) by Propulsive Music (PRM-607), June 2007
— London Symphony Orchestra recording broadcast on dozens of radio stations throughout United States since its release, including KUSC, Los Angeles; WGBH, Boston; KING, Seattle; WRR, Dallas; WABE, Atlanta; KRTS, Houston; WNED, Buffalo; KSJN, St. Paul; KFUO, St. Louis; WWFM, Trenton; WGUC, Cincinnati (broadcast over 150 times on this station)

Read Program Note

New Beginnings is in one movement, which falls into four clearly delineated sections. The first section, in a fast tempo, is dominated by a fanfare which begins immediately in the trumpets and horns. This fanfare leads to a percussion flourish, and a swell of sound in which the entire orchestra gradually enters. A relentlessly repeated rhythmic figure begins in the strings (here divided into twelve parts instead of the customary five), and continues for some time, while the brass punch out figures derived from the fanfare, and the flutes and clarinets add a busy filigree. “Pyramids” of sound, built up from bottom to top, appear in the brass, and the energy of the first section begins to subside, ushering in the second section. This is in a slow tempo (exactly half that of the first), and is dominated by a melody which is first played by a solo oboe. This simple, “folk-like” tune is the most important melody in the work. After the oboe, it is played by a solo trumpet, followed by the strings and horns in canon, while the fanfare motive is tossed around above it by the piccolos. A short duet for English horn and flute follows. The flute plays the beginning of the melody, then introduces a rhythmic idea which accelerates into the third section, which is in a moderate tempo. The horns introduce a new melody here, while the rest of the orchestra provides a busy accompaniment. The energy of this third section gradually dissipates, until all that remains is the flute and a few violins.

This leads to the fourth and largest section of the piece, which is characterized by mixed meters. Two prominent mixed meters used here are 7/8 (always 3+2+2), introduced by shaker, triangle and congas; and later, 10/8 (always 3+3+2+2), introduced by flutes. In this section, both the opening fanfare motive and the previous horn melody recur, in new rhythmic guises. Percussion features prominently in this section. There is a gradual buildup of energy, which leads to a return of the formerly “folk-like” tune, now played in grand fashion by the trumpets and strings, with a number of busy accompanying figures in the rest of the orchestra. This leads to the return of the complete opening fanfare, now in a new, brighter key, following which the percussion punctuate the orchestra’s final flourish.

Boyer: New Beginnings

London Symphony Orchestra
Peter Boyer, conductor

Photos from the Kalamazoo Symphony premiere, recording sessions with the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, and the Kansas City Symphony’s performance in the Flint Hills