program notes by composition > G > Ghost Train

Ghost Train

Eric Whitacre

Ghost Train illustrates a tale from American folklore of a supernatural machine that roars throughout the Western United States. It is highly programmatic and particularly rich in special effects. Compositional techniques include pitch bending for the train whistle, accelerandos combined with rhythmical patterns mimicking the gradual start of a steam engine, layered instrumentation with dynamic changes to suggest the movement of the train as it passes different scenery, and extensive use of ostinati (repetitive rhythmic-harmonic schemes) that portray the relentless movement of a train.

Eric Whitacre (b. 1970) is one of the most popular and performed composers of his generation. He earned degrees at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas and Juilliard. He writes music that incorporates contemporary sounds and influences. He is known for his use of unconventional chord progressions and rhythms that often involve mixed, complex, and/or compound meters and unusual patterns. “Ghost Train”, “Godzilla Eats Las Vegas”, and “October” are among his works which have achieved success in the symphonic wind community. In 2010 he signed a long-term performing contract with Decca. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Grammy-award winning soprano Hila Plitmann and their son.

Last updated on July 16, 2013 by Palatine Concert Band