program notes by composition > T > Turkey in the Straw

Turkey in the Straw

Michael Markowski

Turkey in the Straw Composer Michael Markowski claims that he is “fully qualified to watch movies and cartoons” on the basis of his bachelors degree in film from Arizona State University.

The publisher writes, “When we asked [the composer] to create a concert band arrangement of the fiddle tune, Turkey in the Straw, we were figurin’ to get a ‘merican-soundin’ creation. Square dance, anyone? No way. Instead it was “Fire up the Markowski Phantasmagoricon!” and hold on tight. Markowski has created, in effect, Turkeys Gone Loco – music for a wild cartoon, a crazy surrealist extravaganza, an eclectic, filmic frolic. In a work overflowing with ideas, yet tightly wound and carefully crafted, Markowski has composed a Turkey in the Straw of today’s Zeitgeist.

Markowski himself says: “We all know the melody, even if not by name. For me, [it] is nostalgic, beckoning back to a childhood [watching] old-time cartoons on VHS. From its early days in vaudeville to its silver-screen premiere in Disney’s Steamboat Willie, the tune has become a staple of Americana...

“Most arrangements stay true to the song’s Southern roots. But for a contemporary ensemble ... I wanted my arrangement to be somewhat Ivesian, and, as colleagues have described it, closer to 'Quirky in the Straw'. Above all, I wanted this piece to resemble classic cartoon scoring.”

Each successive treatment of the melody increases the orchestration and contra- puntal complexity. The melody quickly modulates, twists and turns, loses itself and finds itself in musical vignettes. Each new scene seems to bring its own musical plot, orchestrational characterization, and many a custard pie in the face.

Michael Markowski (b. 1986) graduated in 2010 from Arizona State University. He studied music privately. He was a part of the National Band Association's Young Composer and Conductor Mentorship program and winner of the Frank Ticheli Composition Award.

Last updated on March 25, 2016 by Palatine Concert Band