I grew up in the great ‘sunset state’ — Arizona — a place known for its dramatic landscapes both on the ground and in the sky. But after graduating college, I realized that an even more dramatic landscape was calling to me: New York City. Arizona was my home for 25 years, but I’ve certainly become a city-slicker since leaving, living deep in canyons of towering buildings where the blue sky only occasionally makes a cameo appearance. As you might expect, I’ve become really nostalgic for the vast and unbounded beauty of my former home.
Wild Skies is an homage to many of the early American Westerns that were filmed in and around Arizona. In fact, over 60 feature films were shot here — with a great majority finding the rusty red rock of Sedona as the perfect backdrop. Actors like John Wayne (Stage Coach, 1939), Gene Autry (The Last Round-Up, 1947), James Stewart (Broken Arrow, 1950), Burt Lancaster (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 1957), and even Elvis Presley (Charro!, 1969) all played roles on film sets in and around this quintessential landscape. Ironically, even parts of the 1955 version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! were filmed in the southern part of the state.
There’s a familiar cliché that happens at the end of a lot of these films. After nearly two hours of railroad hijacking, gunslinging, and showdowns, our lonesome hero finds that law and order has finally been restored to his world. His work is done, and he knows it’s time now to ride on to that next adventure just beyond the horizon. He saddles up, says his farewells, and rides off into a sky painted with gold, brilliant oranges, and vibrant pinks. Perhaps he’s headed West — as so many cowboys do — or maybe he’s got his sights set on the East Coast where even more adventure awaits.
Wild Skies premiered in Flagstaff, Arizona on April 9, 2022, and was performed by the 2022 Arizona All-State Orchestra conducted by Maestro Jeffrey Grogan.
The Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors Association for the 2022 Arizona All-State Orchestra
Markowski Creative (ASCAP)
Flute 1 & 2
Flute 3 (Piccolo)
Oboe 1 & 2
B-flat Clarinet 1 & 2
B-flat Bass Clarinet
Bassoon 1 & 2
B-flat Trumpet 1-3
Percussion 1: Crash Cymbals, Snare Drum, Claves, Suspended Cymbal, Glockenspiel
Percussion 2: Bass Drum, Whip, Chimes, Crash Cymbals, Suspended Cymbal, Sleigh Bells, Temple Blocks
No known errata.