Little Red-Riding Hood (2021)

​Listen to the piece

  • Instrumentation: Two flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), two oboes (2nd doubling English horn), two clarinets (2nd doubling bass clarinet), two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, two trombones, bass trombone, percussion (crotales, glockenspiel, snare drum, tambourine, suspended cymbal, sleigh bells, bass drum), solo piano, strings.

  • [Note: This is the 2 November 2021 version of the piece, which contains the complete first two movements. As of this writing (June 2022), I have music for the other movements sketched out, but no plans at the moment to continue working. I will of course update this page and the YouTube video below if I end up finishing it at a later date.]

  • Description: As a musician, I have always been interested in the world of film music, and some of my favorite concert pieces are ballets and tone-poems that depict extramusical elements. In 2014, I wrote a Violin Concerto that told the fairy tale “Little Snow-White” through music. It was the product of my film music obsession at the time: a piece that relied on leitmotifs and offered story beats in continuous “chapters.” When I came across the Élan Award Composition Contest for writing a Piano Concerto, I thought immediately back to my time with Snow-White, and decided to compose a sequel. I chose another classic fairy tale for this new work: “Little Red Riding Hood.”

  • In my Violin Concerto, I gave the violin the sole melodic spotlight, with the orchestra accompanying. For my Piano Concerto, I wanted to have the relationship between the soloist and the orchestra be on more equal footing. The piano does play one of the main leitmotifs of the work and has a couple of solo moments, but it also plays colorful virtuosic passages that decorate the action in the orchestra. This approach is one I plan to follow through the end of the piece, as it fits my compositional style quite well. As the writer, I am able to focus on telling a compelling cinematic story, while simultaneously providing emphasis on the soloist.

  • The work starts with “once upon a time,” leading the listener into the world of a magical fairy tale. It then introduces Red Riding Hood’s theme in the piano as her mother provides her with cakes to take to her grandmother in the woods. We are then led directly into the second movement, with an excited Red Riding Hood running through the woods. Eventually, she runs into the Wolf, whose darker theme can be heard in the lower instruments of the orchestra. She doesn’t understand how dangerous he is, so her exuberant music continues playing right alongside the Wolf’s. During this time, the piano switches allegiances playing alongside the Wolf and Red Riding Hood to provide variety for the soloist. The movement ends with Red Riding Hood continuing onward through the woods, with the Wolf (referenced in the horn) looking on.