For Trombone Octet (6 Tenor, 2 Bass)
The inspiration for the title of this piece comes from an … interesting … drive home one night while I was living in Tampa, FL. Like many summer days/nights in Florida, there was a pretty big thunderstorm rolling across the bay towards the downtown area. I had experienced driving in bad Florida thunderstorms many times before, but this one was different. At this point in time I was living on Davis Islands which is accessed by just one bridge south of downtown and as I pulled onto the bridge I realized I was in the dead center of the storm, driving on what was the highest point within a half-mile radius. Like most people, I’ve never been a big fan of lightning but I had never been terrified of it until this moment. I don’t remember exactly what the speed limit was on the bridge, but I know that I had to have been doing almost double it, all while ducking my head (as if that would save me) with every crack of lighting on the bay below me.
When I was asked to write this piece I immediately remembered this moment and knew that it had to be the inspiration for this piece. I wanted to come up with a title that not only represented this terrifying and powerful moment, but also paid homage to the beauty of the city that I called home for four years and I hope to call home again very soon which is how I came to, Sticks of Fire. The term “Sticks of Fire” has a few different meanings to it, the first being that it is believed that the word “tampa” may have meant “sticks of fire” in the language of the Calusa Native American tribe that used to inhabit the Tampa area and therefor the city was named that because of the high number of lightning strikes it receives each year. Sticks of Fire is also the title of a sculpture the resides in Plant Park at The University of Tampa where I received my Bachelor’s degree. This park and more specifically the sculpture itself was always a popular meeting place for students that were meeting up to play football in the park or just lay in the sun along the Hillsborough river.