(A Dystopian Toccata for Trumpet, Alto Saxophone and Piano)
The title Monorail to Atomland was borrowed from that of a song by my friend, singer/songwriter Barry Childs-Helton. He describes his song as, “A Cold-War nostalgia lament for a Disneyesque future that never was.” The lyrics of the song are a wry commentary on the insane mix of wildly optimistic predictions and horrendous threats (e.g. “duck and cover” nuclear attack drills) of our childhood. It was written in 2005 for trumpeter Kim Dunnick and saxophonist Steven Mauk, both on the faculty of Ithaca College. Kim requested a piece they could perform on their joint concert tours. After they performed it, I added two more movements to make a set entitled Stolen Song Titles, but Monorail to Atomland may still be performed as a stand-alone piece.
Subtitled “A Dsytopian Toccata,” this short piece is an attempt to capture the somewhat alarming energy of Barry’s song and lyrics, but does not use any of his musical material. Think of it as a roller coaster ride ending with a derailment.