Composers Datebook®

with host John Zech

Sunday, May 14

Michael Daugherty's "Alligator Alley"

Synopsis

"Alligator Alley" is the nickname for the east-west stretch of Interstate 75 between Naples and Fort Lauderdale that crosses through Florida Everglades National Park. This park is home to many endangered species, one of them being the American alligator, a critter that occasionally I-75 drivers might see perched on the roadside observing the traffic flow—or hunting for road kill.

"Alligator Alley" is also the title of a wind band score by the American composer Michael Daugherty, a work commissioned in 2003 by the American Composers Forum for their BandQuest series of new pieces written by leading American composers for middle and high school performers.

In the case of "Alligator Alley," Daugherty had a particular middle-schooler in mind, namely his own daughter who played bassoon in a middle school band.

Daugherty's "Alligator Alley" employs two main themes: the first, a slithery "alligator theme," is played at the beginning by bassoons; the second, a "hunter's theme," is performed by the brass, and the percussive sound of an alligator snapping its jaws is evoked by two pieces of wood being struck together.

Since its premiere performance on May 14, 2003, by band director Gene Bartley and the kids at Slausen Middle School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Michael Daugherty's "Alligator Alley" has slithered its way into the band rooms and onto the music stands of young musicians all across the country.

Music Played in Today's Program

Michael Daugherty (b. 1956) Alligator Alley Suite U of Mn Band; Craig Kirchhoff, cond.

Additional Information

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