by Anthony O’Toole (Grade 4+, 5:30)
Up was completed in the spring of 2013. I had this piece on my ‘back burner’ so to speak for months prior and hadn’t really had the time to sit down and develop it the way I’d like. But the framework was there. And when a colleague contacted me about a new piece, I knew I had to finish it. So after a few days of hard work I had completed the piece. This composition was initially inspired by a picture of hot air balloons I saw; I’ve always enjoyed hot air balloons, the way they float in the sky and the bright colors of the balloons.
The work is a study of sorts in contrast and harmony, although those two elements are not the only focus. Up spins together beautiful melodies, fresh harmonies, a relentless ostinato, whimsical solos, and moments of pure exaltation and affirmation. On a personal level, Up was written at a time when my career was beginning to flourish before my eyes and it seemed like everything was going my way for a change. My music was being performed regularly and I had gained the respect of a lot of musicians and composers that I had idolized only a few years ago as a teenager (and whom I still idolize!). To me gaining this respect and being seen as a serious artist and musical colleague was one of the high points of my life. The thrill of seeing your dreams come true and your hard work and dedication to craft paying off is a personal joy unsurpassed by any other in my life. And this piece, while inspired by hot air balloons, also perfectly depicts the exhilaration I felt those early months of 2013 – On top of the world!