Gwyneth Walker

The Great Lakes Overture

for Chamber Orchestra (2019)

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Download an MP3 file of a performance of this work by the Toledo Choral Society Orchestra, Richard Napierala, conductor.

View/download a perusal PDF file of the full score of this orchestral work.

Orchestra parts are available upon request. Please write to with performance inquiries.

Original version commissioned by the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra to open their 2018-19 season
Premiered on September 8, 2018, GLCO, Libor Ondras - Music Director, Petoskey, Michigan

This overture is the preface to the The Great Lakes cantata, a 7-movement work for chorus and chamber orchestra. The intent of this introduction is to provide nautical imagery to bring the listener into the watery world of the Great Lakes.

The start of the journey is marked by the ringing of a ship's bell, tolling the hours of the embarkation (or of the beginning of the orchestra concert!). Soon, the listener might hear (envision) the rising of the mist on the lake. Then comes a jaunty Piccolo/fife theme, with the spirit of "setting forth."

A calmer middle section arrives with triple meter and a gentle Oboe theme "on the water." Strings provide a shimmering waves accompaniment.

Energy gathers for a lively closing section based on the sea chanty "What Shall We Do with the Drunken early in the morning?" The phrase of these lyrics, "Way, way up she rises," joyously comes to life in the Temple Blocks. A quick ending follows: "so early in the morning!" And then the ship's bell returns, marking the hours.

Notes by the composer