Roger Bourland: Ozma (1996)

July 31, 2008

Ozma of Oz

OZMA for orchestra (1996)

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Program notes for the premiere:

Ozma was commissioned by the Topeka Symphony Orchestra to commemorate their 50th anniversary as an orchestra. The tie-in to Oz and Kansas seemed a good starting point for this concert overture. I read several of the sequels to Frank L. Baum’s Wizard of Oz and was immediately taken by Ozma, the third sequel. I set out to compose a “blow by blow” musical correspondence to the story, but soon abandoned this approach as it seemed too accompanimental. What finally came through was a concert opener whose themes were inspired by many of the characters and incidents in the book. It is not a prerequisite, however, to know the story in order to appreciate the music. Just sit back and imagine what you will.

Ozma was written over the summer of 1995. I arose every morning at 4:30, fixed a strong cup of coffee, sat down in front of my computer, put on headphones, and listened to a CD of rain and thunderstorms. The piece went from my imagination directly into the computer: no pencil sketches, no piano, no synthesizers — just manually typing notes into the computer. When I finished, the piece clocked in at 15 minutes. In order to “proof” the piece, I connected the computer to two synthesizers, assigned staves to instrument, and the score “played itself.” Over the next week I edited the piece, and pared it down to the slim 10 minute work which you will here tonight.

Ozma by Roger Bourland

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