Incantation and Dance by William Grant Still
Arranged for Solo Piccolo and Flute Choir by Claudia K. Bissett
Instrumentation: solo piccolo, 3 c flutes (flute 1 – 3 divisi in places), alto flute, bass flute, contrabass flute
Score and parts
This arrangement was created to be performed privately for the annual banquet of the Nashua, NH chapter of the NAACP. The banquet organizers had specifically requested music by minority composers, and William Grant Still immediately came to mind. Claudia is a music librarian at New England Conservatory of Music, so she searched the collections there for suitable music. Because flute choirs are a relatively recent phenomenon, she did not expect to find anything already written that the ensemble could perform unaltered. “Incantation and Dance” was by far the best candidate for arrangement out of all of the other music at NEC. It was initially intended to be performed only for that one occasion, but the success of the piece has led the group to request that the arrangement be published.
When arranging for an ensemble that consists solely of flutes, it is necessary to choose a solo instrument that will be clearly heard. The oboe is characterized by its narrow, penetrating tone. The piccolo also has a more focused sound that the C flute. It is important to remember that the modern orchestral piccolo with its wooden body has a far different sound that the usual silver marching band piccolo. When played by a competent flutist, it has a round full tone, and should should just like a “normal” flute but higher. The higher tessitura alone allows it to sound through the rest of the ensemble.