In November of 2021, I was honoured to be contacted by Kirk Wassmer of Didsbury High School in Alberta, Canada, to compose a piece to commemorate the retirement of Didsbury High School's beloved principal, Garth Dagg. Kirk stressed that Garth is the ideal principal whose door is always open to everyone, and that Garth is the kind of principal who always does his best to support his staff and studentd, and to do everything he needs to help them become the best people that they can be.
As I was deciding how to begin writing this piece, the idea of a "keystone" came to me. A keystone is the wedge-shaped piece at the top of a stone arch that holds all the other stones in place. Without this particular piece, the entire arch would fall. This seemed to me to be the best description of Garth Dagg, because a good principal helps hold everyone in a school together.
With this in mind, I also realized that the letters of Garth's last name were musical notes (DAGG). I took these letters and created a musical motive that permeates the piece and gives it its structure. Much like Mr. Dagg, the motive's influence can be felt throughout the whole piece.
I am eternally grateful to Kirk Wassmer and Didsbury High School for commissioning this piece. "Keystone" was premiered by the Didsbury High School Senior Band on June 15, 2022.
Concert Band Level 4
4/4, 6/8, 5/8 Time, F Major
Keystone combines a joyous melody with modern harmonies and shifting time signatures, including 6/8 and 5/8 time.
This level four piece shimmers and dances, with interesting parts for all instruments, and a melody that naturally falls into 6/8 and 5/8 at times, providing an opportunity to teach mixed meter in a very natural, approachable way.
Sound File & Score Preview here: Keystone — MATT NEUFELD MUSIC