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
2015 National Finalist for the Morton Gould Young Composer Awards

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



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