Symphony No.3 in E Minor: Concert in Three Acts


Symphony No.3

Mikel Toms | Brno Philharmonic Orchestra


Program Notes

Symphony No. 3 in E Minor: Concert in Three Acts experiments with modifying the traditional symphonic form. 

For brevity, Symphony No.3 combines many elements found in traditional orchestral concerts into a single work: overarching thematic development, dramatic gestures, detailed contrapuntal interplay, and diverse orchestral colors on a variety of scales.

The symphony’s harmonic framework outlines an E diminished-seventh chord, first presented in the symphony’s opening bars. Comprised of symmetrical intervals, the chord’s pitch-classes, (E, G, B♭, C#/D♭, and E, including the octave), provide the home-keys for each movement. All of Act II is built on the chord’s point of symmetry, the pitch-class B♭, as home key of both movements III and IV, (presented in Major and Minor modes, respectively). The finale returns the principal key of E to complete the cycle.

As Symphony No.3 unfolds, the orchestra transforms itself into different combinations of large and small ensembles to create a hybrid, chamber-symphonic form. In live performances, two brief intermissions subdivide this concert-long work into three acts, allowing listeners and musicians time to pause and reflect.

By employing these techniques, Symphony No.3 offers a concise, yet varied musical experience in hopes of engaging a wider contemporary audience.

2019 Winner of The American Prize in Orchestral Composition, 2nd Place
2019 Winner of The American Prize Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music, 3rd Place
2015 National Finalist for the Morton Gould Young Composer Awards

61 minutes | / / Timp. 4 perc. Harp / Strings | 2015



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