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Keith Gates: Music

Nocturne for Horn and Piano


The Nocturne for horn and piano was dedicated to and premiered by Roderick Lauderdale, a colleague of Keith's for many years at McNeese State University. Although it is a short piece, Nocturne is significant among Keith's works, for what it represents as a piece of serial music.

Keith began his formal studies of composition in 1967, at a time when the musical world was struggling to bring forth new ideas. It is clear from his output that he felt that the existing vocabulary of music was sufficient for what he wanted to express. However, he told me that he was uncomfortable about the contrast with his own style and what was going on at the time. He must have felt this especially Keith's rate of composition dropped precipitously and he told me that this was a result of his doubts. However, when he began writing again, he continued writing in the style that he was most comfortable with.

In 1992, Keith collaborated with visual artist Gerry Wubben on Portraits from Macbeth, which veered toward atonality. Sometime after the premiere, a respected colleague encouraged Keith to continue being adventurous; two years later, he wrote Nocturne, which he described to me as an experiment in 12-tone composition. Even so, the row that he created has a distinctly tertian feel. Almost immediately following this, he began work on his magnum opus, Evangeline, selections from which will be heard later in the concert. From this point until his death, Keith wrote in the style that was purely his own.

Lane Miller