Composer Michael Markowski (b. 1986) claims that he is “fully qualified to watch movies and cartoons” on the basis of his bachelors degree in film from Arizona State University.  Despite this humility regarding his musical training (and glossing over the performance of his joyRIDE at Carnegie Hall when he was a high school senior, and his Frank Ticheli composition prize for Shadow Rituals the following year) , he has gained attention as a composer of unique and sophisticated works for wind band, film, and other media.  His works are being performed across the United States and around the world, leading to an ever-growing list of commissions and guest appearances.

Reckoning is one of those commissions, from the Florida Bandmasters Association for their All State Concert Band in 2017.  Markowski give the following program note on his website (links added by me):

Reckoning began as a musical underdog story: an unlikely hero’s determination to right certain wrongs that had been brought upon him or her in the past and that hero’s ambition to prove that they are “a force to be reckoned with.” I often liken it to a David and Goliath type of story: small versus big, poor versus rich. For example, the piece opens in a dark and oppressive world full of despair and anguish, but from within that darkness comes a very beautiful, very fragile, very hopeful oboe solo. However, this hope quickly transforms into a more active, kinetic energy—a musical uprising. Several families of instruments join the dialogue, voicing their grievances, adding to the collective resistance. By measure 90, the ensemble fully pledges their allegiance as a more majestic and heroic french horn theme ascends to the fore, literally rising quarter note by quarter note above the anxious eighth note theme. From here, they plot their next move. But will it be enough?

Reckoning premiered on January 14, 2017 in Tampa, Florida conducted by Captain Shanti C. Simon.


Click here for the official recording.  Also, check out this live recording with quite a light show!