Randall D. Standridge: Imaginarium


American composer Randall D. Standrige has made a fruitful career as a composer thus far. He is perhaps most-known for his works for wind orchestras and concert bands, with his works often residing in many wind orchestra’s libraries. Imaginarium was commissioned by the Association of Texas Small School Bands for their All-State conference in 2015. In his programme notes, Standridge explains the name of the piece:


“Inside every person, there is a place where creativity dwells. Gears turn, dreams flow, and ideas spark into life. This idea-factory or “Imaginarium” is the place that every creative person goes to, again and again, to find their music, flesh out ideas, and to exert change on the world around them. This piece is dedicated to all of the dreamers who see more in the world than is actually there, who see possibilities where others see only dead ends, and who believe in creation rather than destruction. This one’s for you.”


The Music

Played in one continuous movement, Imaginarium is actually comprised of four sections:


I – Sparks (where the ideas begin to germinate)

II – The Cloud Factory (the day dream zone where one imagines endless possibilities)

III – Here, There be Monsters (the moment of panic or nightmare that all creative people feel when self-doubt sets in)

IV – Eureka! (the ideas become fully-realised)


Opening with sparks of melody from the upper winds, Imaginarium gets off to a sparkling beginning. The brass lead with the lead melody here as the ideas are beginning to germinate. The driving quaver movement moves the music onward as the ensemble unite to play a low chord before heading into the day dream zone. 

The Cloud Factory is full of luscious melodies that are passed around the orchestra. The tuned percussion accentuate the dream-like state of this section, with the wind orchestra uniting to play the dream melody together. The message here is strong, with the endless possibilities for the music being represented in the mind of our creative. Through the use of dynamics, tension is built before a small burst of colour explodes in the first true climax of the piece. 

A shimmer from the percussion and a fizzing flute solo leads the music into the next vivacious section. The panic begins to set in with the brass leading on much of the musical content. The driving forces in the percussion keep this hellish section moving along quickly, with both tension and excitement rising. 

A brief reprise to the opening ‘Sparks’ section is heard as the creative has overcome their self-doubt. Eureka! Sets in as the melody seems reinvigorated. The final shrills and swells from the ensemble lead the music into its colourful end. The repetitive quaver movement leads to the rousing, if not quite sudden finish.


Final Thoughts

Randall D. Standridge’s Imaginarium is a playful work for wind orchestra that exudes joyfulness as a creative finds their groove in the world we live in. Standridge’s colourful writing is seen through all four sections of the piece, with each one adding to the anticipation of the rousing finish. A really enjoyable and playful work for both the musicians and the listeners. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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