Legends of the Galaxy: A Cosmic Fanfare

Chandler Wilson • Great Music ReviewsJune 2022 • June 15, 2022

In looking for a quality piece full of energy to open our spring concert, I settled on Legends of the Galaxy: A Cosmic Fanfare by Dr. Chandler Wilson.

Wilson gained inspiration for this piece by contemplating the feeling of taking a journey through space. Beginning with a glissando from the trombones, an energetic cymbal roll, and ascending sixteenth notes in the woodwinds, this piece is broken into three sections: a fast section followed by a slower, more lyrical style and finally finishing with a faster fanfare-like idea. Halfway through the first section of the piece, Wilson borrows a leitmotif that any sci-fi or Star Wars fan would recognize. He changes this famous motif from its original setting ever so slightly through the alteration of time signatures, as well as the beats where the chords progress. In rehearsals, we used this as an opportunity to discuss the idea of composing and arranging.

If you are thinking about performing this piece, your ensemble needs a strong sense of time and internal pulse. Wilson changes the feel of the main statement by alternating time signatures from 5/4 to 4/4 and then to 2/4, repeating that same sequence over the course of two phrases. There are also many syncopated passages in every part, including in the tubas!  One thing about it relevant to smaller ensembles is part doubling. Throughout, the alto saxophones, horns, and often trombones double each other’s voices. In the slower, lyrical section, the clarinets, horns, and altos often double the melody. You will also find parts are frequently doubled across instrument families. The percussion parts are very active but do not require any special instruments you would not normally have in your band hall. I feel Wilson’s experience as a public-school educator positively effects the ensembles this piece was written for and provides many excellent teaching tools.

When looking for a quality Grade 3 work, I would recommend Legends of the Galaxy to anyone. It is thoughtfully composed and will surely be one of your students’ favorite pieces to perform.

Cody Ray is the assistant director of bands at Cairo High School in Cairo, GA. As a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, he has taught in both Alabama and Georgia, and will be continuing his education at the University of South Carolina this fall. 

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