In my second post about J. Scott McKenzie and his music, I must again defer to his wonderfully witty writing. Here is his bio, with his original links:
Scott McKenzie (b. 1971; reportedly still alive, unusual for a composer) is a composer, arranger, and conductor currently serving as a band officer in the United States Army. His oath and personal ethics stipulate that he can’t use his grade or position for personal gain, so that’s all he can say about that.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Virginia Tech and a Master of Music degree in composition from George Mason University, where he was a student of Dr. Glenn Smith and Mark Camphouse. He previously studied music education and conducting at Old Dominion University and the Peabody Conservatory. Prior to doing a crazy thing and enlisting in the Army, he taught band, chorus, and general music at the middle school level for four years. If you taught middle school general music for any length of time, you might not think joining the Army was that crazy, either.
Scott has won accolades and the occasional prize for his work. He is the only two-time winner of the Columbia Summer Winds Outdoor Composition Contest (even though he does most of his writing indoors): Keynote Address recently won the 2016 prize, while A Summer Breeze took the 2012 title. His Fanfare for Enduring Freedom was a 2007 winner of the Dallas Winds’ ‘Call for Fanfares,’ which he conducted with the combined members of that ensemble and The United States Army Field Band. He enjoys serving as an adjudicator and guest conductor for honor band festivals and other events.
Mr. McKenzie and his wife, Anne, have three children, Jimmy, Colleen, and Allie. The kids were so named so that everyone in the family has at least one double letter. Why do this? No particular reason. They all reside wherever the Army sends them.
He mentions the Outdoor Composition Contest: 2013’s Keynote Address won him his second title there. It was commissioned by the Gammu Mu chapter of Delta Omicron at Virginia Tech, and premiered on February 7, 2014, by an ensemble comprised of chapter members and alumni, led by Dr. Andrew Putnam. Once again, his origin story for the piece is far more entertaining than any program note I could write:
The Gammu Mu chapter of Delta Omicron (professional co-ed music fraternity) celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding during the 2013-2014 school year. A committee of current members asked me to write a piece for the occasion. One of their requests was for me to include a quote from the Delta Omicron Keynote, a charming little piece from the ΔΟ Songbook.
However, upon posting my impending compositional triumph on Facebook, I was overwhelmed with a vast quantity of other “bright” ideas to make the piece extra special (mostly from founding members of the chapter, but from other friends as well). These included sixteenth notes to represent the copious beads of sweat that dripped from my forehead while I worked in 120 degree heat, an extended piccolo/bassoon duet representing my abject delirium at taking on this project, that the piece be 52:30 in duration, a finger cymbal note, a tam-tam swish with triangle beater, a fortissississimo snare drum ostinato, a D-flat piccolo in duet with viola and oboe or English horn backed by viola and crotales (thus redefining the word “duet”), multiple opportunities for interpretive dance, a narrative in French, a first movement that was 5:10 and all unsolicited outside ideas served as the second movement, Sprechtstimme, bagpipes, sitar, “tape,” didgeridoo (as the underlying foundation for the piece, played for the duration), a Greek chorus of Tuvan throat singing, the names of the “founding ten” chanted throughout while pictures of their heads were projected on a screen behind the ensemble like in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” when they were going back in time, TTBB chorus, and shaker, all the while the audience would be seated in a large scale virtual reality world. All this to ensure that I truly captured the “founding ten” in the most accurate light.
Sadly, I used none of these suggestions.
Yet I’m pleased with the resultant work. Virtually every melodic idea is derived from a portion of the Keynote theme, which binds the piece together. The Keynote is stated first in a fanfare/march style, followed by an extended Allegro in three. After a drum roll, the ensemble plays the Keynote with its original harmony, with just a few of my own deviations and colors, and finally the work closes with an energetic coda.
Special thanks to the national leadership of Delta Omicron for granting permission to quote the Keynote in its entirety. The Keynote was composed by Clara K. Heflebower (Alpha Chapter) and Frank Laird Waller.
Listen on SoundCloud: