“The chirpiest music on Saturday was found from the mind of guitarist/composer D. J. Sparr, whose Woodlawn Drive might have also been subtitled ‘Music Box for Small Ensemble.’ With clarion xylophone blows and bubbly woodwinds, the score seemed to propel onward with the imaginary turn of a crank.”
Chicago Classical Review
Woodlawn Drive is named after a road that is near my great-grandmother’s house in Maryland. The piece is a musical memoir of time that I spent there as a youngster and of what the property must have been like before the ever-expanding suburbs of Baltimore engulfed it. The acres of farmland my ancestors used to own were, as I understand it, quite beautiful and expansive. The initial catalyst for this piece was the impression I got when imagining the way Woodlawn Drive led into the young town of Woodlawn, and also with the present-day flurry of traffic in the neighborhood and my grandmother’s presence – even still at the age of ninety-three – sitting on her porch wondering, “where could all of those people possibly be going?” The structure of the piece forms a loose arch, the sections of which are most conspicuously delineated by the use of percussion instruments. For instance, the work begins and ends with a steel drum sound, and the second and the penultimate sounds are strikes on the triangle.
Woodlawn Drive was completed in June, 1999 and premiered by the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble with Sydney Hodkinson conducting in Harris Hall during the 1999 Aspen Music Festival