Route 66 (1998) for orchestra was commissioned and premiered by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Yoshimi Takeda, for the opening concert of the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival at Miller Auditorium, East Lansing, Michigan on April 25, 1998. Route 66 is a high-octane nostalgic musical romp from Illinois to California along America’s first intercontinental highway, as seen through my rear view mirror. The music takes off with four trumpets, in musical canon, and a metallic brake drum, pulsating like the yellow painted line that divides the two-lane asphalt highway. As woodwinds, mallet instruments and bongos continue the syncopation, a
soaring string melody casts a panoramic soundstage down “The Mother Road”. A lonely tuba solo, which signals the only traffic light of the journey, segues into a breathtaking expansion of the opening tune, punctuated by chromatic scales at lightning speed. Upon the entrance of a syncopated Latin groove on cowbell, we suddenly shift gears into a development section of exciting multilayered twists and turns. The final brassy chord signals the end of our symphonic road trip down “Main Street America”.
- Michael Daugherty