Ludlow: Four Scenes for Orchestra is a 20-minute piece for chamber orchestra that I wrote to commemorate the massacre of striking mine-workers and their families in Ludlow, Colorado on April 20, 1914 - 100 years ago today. It was a turning point in the history of the American labor movement.


The first movement - Morning at the Camp - represents the ethnic hodgepodge of the miners'€™ camp with 11 folk songs from 10 different nationalities: American (two songs), English, German Jewish, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Mexican, Romanian, Russian, and Westphalian. In honor of Louis Tikas, the strike'€™s leader, the Greek tune initially heard on the clarinet often takes the lead. The folk songs gradually coalesce around the two main themes, which have been introduced in fragments.

The second movement - The Death Special - follows without a break. This was the strikers'€™ nickname for an improvised armored car, mounted with a machine gun, that the mine-owners'€™ detective agency used to harass the strikers. The rondo theme is intensified at each return by altering its harmonic context without changing the theme'€™s pitches. The continuously repeating nine-and-a-half-beat rhythmic ostinato spells "€œdeath"€ in Morse code. In several rhythmic augmentations it also affects the movement'€™s proportions while providing seemingly random interjections.

The third movement - Fire - depicts the climactic event of the assault on the camp: The fire in which two women and eleven children suffocated. The "€œdeath"€ rhythm reappears at the climax, where the first movement folksongs are devoured by the flames.

The final Elegy is an outpouring of grief that never leaves D minor and ends with a choked echo of the first movement.

This realization uses a sampled orchestra; the piece will be premiered by the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs in October, 2014.


P.S. Sorry about the floating links - I cannot get them to work properly today.

Update: Very, very honored to be in the community spotlight! Thanks, DKossacks!

Originally posted to PianoGuy on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 01:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by An Ear for Music, Hellraisers Journal, Rebel Songwriters, WE NEVER FORGET, Protest Music, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Community Spotlight.

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