Praying Mantis


PRAYING MANTIS (2008) for orchestra

Premiered February 7, 2009 at Stocker Center, Elyria, OH
3222, 4321, Timp+2, Harp, & Strings
9 min.

OperationPrayingMantis-IS_alvandsmallI was doing some sight-seeing in Sandusky, Ohio, where I noticed a historical landmark commemorating the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813. Being a WWII naval war buff, I was intrigued by the event and went home to peruse the internet.  I discovered that some deem this historic battle as one of the five most significant naval engagements in American history.  As one would expect, the Battle of Midway in 1942 was listed among the five.  The fifth battle on the list was Operation Praying Mantis in 1988.  I was shocked that I had no memory of this event. Looking into it further, I discovered that this battle was the American response to the Iranian mining of a US destroyer which fortunately did not sink but had to be towed for repair due to severe damages suffered by the mine.  This military operation was arguably the most successful major military operation in our history synchronizing all four branches of our military resulting in the sinking of two Iranian frigates, one gun ship, at least three enemy torpedo boats, and damaging two oil platforms used as military points of operation by the Iranians.  Our casualties included one cobra helicopter and its two pilots probably due to technical failure.  This victory solidified our naval presence in the Persian Gulf and contributed to the eventual Iranian ceasefire in the Iran-Iraq war.  This piece is written to commemorate this overwhelming US victory.
This programmatic work is book-ended by two huge orchestral explosions.  praying_mantis_news_post_squareThe piece is essentially one large crescendo with contrapuntal action gradually building to a final dramatic bang.  After the first explosion, which signifies the initial mine attack on the American Destroyer, the opening theme is revealed and tossed around in various derivations and followed by subsequent counter melodies.  The piece is meant to be an impressionistic rendition of the engagement with musical aspects conveying other themes like the calm on the seas before the ominous counter attack, the rush of adrenaline before the fight, and finally the battle itself, culminating at the musical climax portraying the sinking of enemy ships giving us decisive victory in the end.
Praying Mantis Conductor Score MASTER post premeire 3-30-12_0001
Praying Mantis Conductor Score – perusal pages 1-9

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