By Frank Proto
Fiesta Bayou and Kismet
In 2004 the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra sponsored the First New Orleans International Composer Competition. A call for scores was put out requiring interested composers to submit, anonymously, scores of jazz-influenced orchestral works. The field was narrowed down first to ten semi-finalists and then to three finalists - Frank Proto, David Rimelis and Allan Zavod. The three were commissioned to write short - ten to fifteen minute - works that referenced jazz in some way. On October 27, 2006 the three pieces were given their first performances on the first half of Louisiana Philharmonic Concert. During the intermission a panel of three judges - two conductors and a composer - deliberated to choose a winner. Frank Proto was awarded the grand prize, a commission for a full-scale orchestral piece to be premiered during the 2008-2009 season.
Fiesta Bayou is a light orchestral showpiece meant to highlight the full orchestra as well as several of its solo players. It touches upon several popular American, jazz-influenced styles both rhythmically and melodically, alternating between slow, cadenza-like sections first introduced by the solo clarinet, and a samba-like tune played by the full orchestra. Along the way a solo bass improvises on the samba rhythms and various solo instruments and sections embellish the material introduced by the solo clarinet. Just when it seems as if we're about to return to the opening again, four bars by what might be the ghost of Count Basie takes it all out.
Kismet: Fate, misfortune. Optional ending labeled: After Katrina.
The Fiesta Bayou was initially finished on August 27, 2005 just a day before Hurricane Katrina struck. As its disastrous aftermath was being played out before the world, I decided to add a short musical impression about what was happening. The Kismet may be interpreted as the listener sees fit.
Fiesta Bayou and Kismet is dedicated to the Louisiana Philharmonic and Klauspeter Seibel. It is also dedicated to the city of New Orleans and its citizens.