Astoria was commissioned by the North Coast Symphonic Band to celebrate the bicentennial of Astoria Oregon (1811-2011) and premiered by the commissioning ensemble on July 3, 2011. Located at the mouth of the Columbia River, Astoria, and its rich cultural history, serves as the inspiration for this concert overture.
The work’s opening statement and primary theme and rhythm incorporates the word “Astoria” by a process of converting alphanumeric material to pitches. The work also pays tribute to the sea-faring town with a prominent sea-shanty melody that, beginning in measure 10, plays throughout the work. A “canneries” double fugue is featured in measures 81-116. The lyrical middle section (measures 125-144) pays homage to the decline of the city’s lumber and canning industries as well as the discontinued railway service. The celebratory climax of the work, however, not only celebrates the city’s 200th birthday but recognizes the vibrant rebirth of the city through its growth in the maritime and light manufacturing industries as well as tourism.
Larry Johnson, staff conductor with the Portland Youth Philharmonic Conservatory Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, conducted the premiere of Astoria with the North Coast Symphonic Band on July 3-4, 2011. Mr. Johnson completed his third season as guest conductor with the North Coast Symphonic Band.