About the Piece

Instrumentation: String Orchestra
Duration: 11:30 min

Program Note

Adapted from my Agnus Dei for organ in the wake of events following the horror of September 11, 2001, the Adagio became the second movement of my Symphony No. 1: Ballet for Orchestra. It was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra – music director, Leonard Slatkin – and made possible by the John and June Hechinger Fund for New Orchestra Works.

The Adagio gradually exposes a hauntingly beautiful melody from Krzysztof Penderecki’s Polish Requiem (Ab, G, F, C, Db, Eb, Db, C). A falling half-step and subsequent whole-step emphasize the interval of the minor third. With occasional references to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, the work’s harmonic language reflects my interest in using both atonal and tonal materials within the same piece of music.

All night have the roses heard
The flute, violin, bassoon;
All night has the casement jessamine stirr’d
To the dancers dancing in tune;
Till a silence fell with the waking bird,
And a hush with the setting moon.
—- Alfred Lord Tennyson, Maud, and Other Poems

  • from Cindy McTee’s website

From the Composer

Gradual unfolding of Penderecki theme.

Shifts between tonality and atonality.

Octatonic structures.

0134 melodic materials.

Use of silence as a compositional device.

2-voice counterpoint emphasizes minor second “switching” and leaving open possibility of multiple harmonic interpretations.

2 large sections plus ending:

A: Bars 1-85. Chromatic with tonal moments.

B: Bars 86-184. Tonal with chromatic moments.

C: Bars 185 – end. Chromatic and tonal simultaneously.

Conductor’s Perspective

Adapted from “Agnus Dei” from her organ work with the melody by Penderecki, poignant, elegiac with complex harmonies, but playable by student orchestra

About the Composer

Hailed by the Houston Chronicle as a composer whose music reflects a charging, churning celebration of the musical and cultural energy of modern-day America, Cindy McTee (b. 1953 in Tacoma, WA) brings to the world of concert music a fresh and imaginative voice.

The Washington Post likewise characterized her work as unmistakably American-sounding, composed with craftsmanship and a catholic array of influences across several centuriesThere’s also a polished gleam about her colors, according to the Detroit Free Press, as well as an inventive approach to form and a respect for tradition.

Cindy McTee has received numerous awards for her music, most significantly: a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Composers Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Music Alive Award from Meet The Composer and the League of American Orchestras, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s third annual Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award, and a BMI Student Composers Award. She was also winner of the 2001 Louisville Orchestra Composition Competition.

The works of Cindy McTee have received performances by leading ensembles in important venues throughout the world, including Carnegie Hall on five separate occasions. Among the many ensembles to have performed her music are: the Aspen Festival Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis, the China Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, the Lone Star Wind Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Maryland Symphony, the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony, the North Texas and Dallas Wind Symphonies, the Orchestre National de Lyon, the Orquestra Simfonica Illes Balears, the Pacific Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the President’s Own U.S. Marine Band, the Showa Wind Symphony, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony Orchestra, the United States Army Field Band, Voices of Change, the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic, and the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Bern, Billings, Boston, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Flagstaff, Ft. Worth, Hartford, Hawaii, Houston, Indianapolis, Nashville, Novosibirsk, Omaha, Pittsburgh, Puerto Rico, Rochester, San Antonio, Seattle, Shanghai, St. Louis, and Sydney.

Cindy McTee enjoyed a 30-year teaching career alongside her activities as a composer – 3 years at Pacific Lutheran University and 27 years at the University of North Texas where she retired as Regents Professor Emerita in 2011. Later that year, she married conductor, Leonard Slatkin. Their principal place of residence is in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Cindy McTee’s website

Performance Materials

Perusal Score (open in new tab)

Purchase/Rent Performance Materials through Bill Holab Music

Duration: 11:30

Instrumentation: Strings


Audio recording on the composer’s site