Florida Home is an orchestral overture composed in 2013 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the University of Central Florida.
Musically speaking, all the material in this overture is derived from the song that closes it. At first, only fragments of this melody or its inversions appear, apparently randomly, over a long sustained pedal note.
Perhaps these fragments could be seen as Florida snapshots, evoking images and sounds as diverse as the graceful motion of the manatee, the snapping of an alligator, Puerto Rican dance music on a car radio, the call of the Carolina wren, a brisk forest walk, an attack by hungry mosquitoes, even a couple of rockets heading skyward! Or, with equal validity, these gestures may be perceived in purely musical terms.
As these fragments interact and collide they build up an irresistible tension, only released when the music breaks free of the pedal note. Then we hear, first, a joyful 12 tone theme, partially derived from the song, then a somber inversion of the song, and finally the choir stands to sing the song itself. Its words express praise and affection for my new homeland.
My Florida Home
Weary from travel I look down below me,
Forests and lakes in the glow of the sun,
Oh, how that welcoming vision revives me,
Fires up my spirit, my traveling’s done.
Home, my Florida home,
Wherever I wander you shine in my mind,
Here’s where I grow, here’s where I thrive,
Under the bluest southern skies,
Home, my Florida home.
So many travelers arriving before me
Left behind tyranny, poverty, pain,
Molded this state through their sweat and ambition,
Their faith and foresight our blessing, our gain.
Here’s to your fruitfulness, richness and beauty:
Nature and people and cultures combined,
Hearing the stories and sharing the dreams
In the land of the sunshine, by flowers defined!
The title Florida Home had added significance for the University of Central Florida. For more than ten years St. Luke’s Lutheran Church provided the UCF Music Department with a home for its orchestral and wind ensemble concerts. Judy Duda was the person behind this extraordinarily generous and valuable gift. Consequently, on behalf of my colleagues and the students, and as an expression of my own gratitude for her friendship and support, I dedicated this overture to Judy Duda.