WHEATLAND – Last week, Honor Band students from eight middle schools – Wheatland, Douglas, Glenrock, Guernsey-Sunrise, Lingle/Fort Laramie, Lusk, Southeast and Torrington – gathered to perform the world premiere of, “The Legend of Devils Tower,” written by the well-known composer, Rob Grice.
Grice has composed over 150 pieces of music that have been performed widely within the United States as well as internationally, including Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe and the Middle East. The origins for his compositions are varied as his website describes, “Grice receives many requests to commission new concert works and creates numerous publications for concert band and string orchestra each year.” Some commission Grice by providing him with a title and ask that he compose using only the title provided as the basis for the song. Others come to him with a subject and trust Grice’s experience and skill and ask that he compose a piece about the subject.
Mr. Evan Bradley, Wheatland Middle School band director, was awarded a grant from the Wyoming Arts Council, which made the arrangement of “The Legend of Devils Tower” possible. The grant allowed Mr. Bradley the funds to have a piece composed by Grice for the eighth grade Honor Band students to perform. After Mr. Bradley contacted Grice, he began conducting research about what made Wyoming unique and how that uniqueness could be portrayed with music. Soon, Grice said he discovered the story of Devils Tower, which was named the United States’ first National Monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. The beauty of the mysterious object that suddenly protrudes from the plains inspired Grice to compose a piece about the legends surrounding the towering object.
After about a year of composing Grice travelled to Wheatland from Florida to teach the students four pieces, one of which was “The Legend of Devils Tower.” At the performance, which Grice conducted, he told the audience of parents and middle school students that after playing the piece in Wheatland the music will be sent to a publishing company who will print the music for distribution to 50,000 middle and high schools throughout the United States. The piece will also be recorded by a professional band. Once published, “The Legend of Devils Tower” will give this honor band credit as being the first to perform it.