Illumination 2017-03-10T18:17:46+00:00

Project Description

Wind Ensemble
5 min.
Grade 3.5

Buy Score and Parts


Listen Now

Franklin High School Band, Nicole Wright, cond.
premiere performance, live recording

Lakeland College Concert Band (Sheboygan, Wisconsin), Christopher Werner, cond.
live recording, 19 November, 2014

Preview Score


Picc Fl-2 Ob-2 BbCl-3 BCl Bsn ASx-2 TSx BSx | Hn-2 Tpt-3 Tbn-2 Tuba | Pno Timp Perc-5

  • Piccolo
  • Flute (2)
  • Oboe (2)
  • Clarinet in B♭ (3)
  • Bass Clarinet in B♭
  • Bassoon
  • Alto Saxophone (2)
  • Tenor Saxophone
  • Baritone Saxophone
  • Horn in F (2)
  • Trumpet in B♭ (3)
  • Trombone (2)
  • Tuba
  • Piano
  • Timpani
  • Required Percussion (5 players)
    • Vibraphone
    • Marimba
    • Suspended Cymbal (lg) 
    • Xylophone
    • Chimes
    • Bass Drum
    • Snare Drum
    • Tenor Drum
    • Orchestra Bells
    • Wood Block (lg)
For wind ensembles and concertos, please use one player per part. For symphonies and concert pieces, more players may be used as desired. David’s full statement.

Difficulty Level

Appropriate for most high school ensembles (Grade 3½) 

The introduction (mm. 1–10), marked ♩= 80, establishes a powerful mood for the main body of the work. The introduction employs the full resources of the ensemble with most marked with a fully-articulated fortissimo.

Section 1 (mm. 11-62), marked ♩= 160, is highly energized. It has relentlessly-driving eighth notes providing forward momentum, contrasted by more sustained lines. All ensemble members will have responsibility for both the pulsing eighth note and the sustained lines.

Section 2 (mm. 63–107) offers a mood change, though at the same tempo. This section begins in a soft, reflective state. It is characterized by a slow melody in half and whole notes in the woodwinds layered over rhythmic eighth notes in the piano. The quarter notes in the mallets support the motor in the piano. The second half of this section (starting at m. 86) follows a gradual crescendo, adds the full ensemble, and presents a full-bodied restatement of the earlier woodwind presentation, descending in tessitura and dynamically away from the apex (m. 96), returning to the reflective mood.

Section 3 (mm. 108–162) returns to the earlier energized music after reestablishing the pulsating eighth notes. Material from the second section comes back at measure 146, this time full with firm articulation.

A short coda (mm. 163–181) finishes the piece in full voice with full instrumentation.



Illumination: Overture for Band was composed for the Franklin, Massachusetts public schools. The commission was started by Nicole Wright, band director at the Horace Mann Middle School in Franklin, when she discovered that my grandnephew was in her band. The piece was initially to have been for her young players, but the idea grew to make it the center of the dedication concert at the opening of Franklin’s new high school building. Rehearsals of Illumination were actually the first musical sounds made in their fine new auditorium.


103: Cl 3 Eb, not E (transposed)


Illumination is an energetic and joyous piece, written at a roughly 3+ grade level. Instrumentation is complete, but certain parts, such as oboe, bassoon, and horn are not exposed. I have graded the parts so that first are more demanding, and seconds and thirds successively easier. Illumination – light rising – coming to consciousness: performing music offers the possibility of immediate awakening, and this piece has both high good nature and a sharp wake-up quality.

Program Note

“Illumination” – lighting up, bringing light. I am especially interested in composing music for young people that allows them a vibrant experience of their own creative energy. A powerful experience of this sort stays in the heart and mind as a channel for creative energy, no matter what the life path. Music shared in community brings this vital force to everyone. Illumination is an open and cheerful piece in a quick tempo, with a very direct A-B-A song form. 

Program note by David Maslanka

Further Reading

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On Feb. 4 2016, I traveled from New York City to meet Tim Mahr and the St. Olaf Band at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, New Jersey. We were hosted by director of bands [...]

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  • Mark Morette and David Maslanka

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Mark Morette of Mark Custom Recording shares his extensive experience in recording wind ensembles.