Every artist, whether young or experienced, strives for excellence in hopes of gaining the attention and respect of audiences both close to home and abroad. Those who are still maturing their voice pour lots of time, energy, and passion into their craft while waiting for that one opportunity, or person, that ultimately allows their voice to be heard. As someone who finds myself in this position regularly, I have felt both ends of the spectrum- struggling to find my voice in this world of many talented composers and a strong sense-of-self after a rewarding experience or performance. Such can also be said for music ensembles across the world who pour the same time, energy, and passion into their rehearsals in hopes to one day “wow” audiences locally and abroad. It was in this same spirit that the work ‘Miles’ in the Sky was commissioned- for the first-ever middle school band from Alabama selected to perform at The Midwest Clinic.
The title, ‘Miles’ in the Sky, has three separate meanings- the first of which refers to the feeling of euphoria that one experiences when their hard work is recognized by notable figures in their field. The second meaning refers to the fact that, while writing this piece, I was at the peak of my travel season- flying to work with bands in various parts of the country and finding great inspiration while at cruising altitude. The last (and most significant) meaning alludes to the name of a former principal of the commissioning school whom has supported the bands in their pursuit of excellence for over 20 years. Whether it was through attending band concerts, chaperoning field-trips, providing financial resources, or just a quick word of encouragement, his passion for the arts manifested itself in the level of success that the ensembles have achieved under his administrative leadership.
‘Miles’ in the Sky was commissioned by the Louis Pizitz Middle School Band (Vestavia Hills, AL) for their performance at the 2015 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic and in honor of retired principal, David Miles, an extraordinary leader who continues to inspire students and teachers to strive unceasingly to the highest level of excellence.