From its connections to Thomas Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark expedition, to the amazing architectural, engineering, and construction work that brought it to life, Westward Sentinel celebrates the magnificent Gateway Arch in St. Louis. This showpiece for solo euphonium and concert band was written for the USAF Band of Mid-America.
Solo Euphonium w/ Band
Duration ca. 14:45
Purchase the score only
Bb Clarinet 1
Bb Clarinet 2
Bb Clarinet 3
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Alto Saxophone 1
Eb Alto Saxophone 2
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
C Trumpet 1
C Trumpet 2
C Trumpet 3
C Trumpet 4
F Horn 1
F Horn 2
F Horn 3
F Horn 4
Timpani (4 drums)
Percussion 1 (Marimba, Xylophone, Woodblock, Chimes)
Percussion 2 (Vibraphone, 2 Bongos, Crash Cymbals, Suspended Cymbal, Triangle, 3 Toms)
Percussion 3 (Bells, Bass Drum, Crash Cymbals)
Percussion 4 (Crotales, Tam-Tam, Snare Drum, Hi-Hat)
From the very first time I saw it with my own eyes, driving through St. Louis in 2000, I have been enthralled by the Gateway Arch: its almost incomprehensible size, its timeless simplicity. When asked to write a piece of music celebrating the Arch and its 40th anniversary, I was overwhelmed. There’s simply too much to express, from its connections to Thomas Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark expedition through the amazing architectural, engineering, and construction work that brought it to life. How is it possible, in only one musical work, to capture all of that, much less the majesty of the Arch on a perfect fall day, or backlit by July fireworks, or gently illuminated, silent in the snow?
Finally, I realized that rather than try to merely describe the Arch or comment on its history, I would need to explore my personal relationship with it, as a resident of the St. Louis metro area. Therefore, although Westward Sentinel is not exactly programmatic, there are a few images that stayed in my mind as I composed:
The first section of the piece speaks to my relationship with the Midwest. I am a native of northern Illinois, where I grew up surrounded by cornfields. This is a significant personal image, of which I have only recently become aware: to stand alone and at peace in the center of a July cornfield under an endless blue sky, breathing the warm summer air, where the only sounds are the subtle hum of insects and the wind rustling the leaves. Now, in my southern Illinois home, there is still corn, but I can also actually see the Arch on the western horizon. Obviously, that changes the feel of my home: with the presence of the Arch, however distant, comes the promise of bustling, urban St. Louis. It is a stark contrast to what I feel as my roots and my place in the world, and yet the Arch definitely calls to me.
I love to drive into St. Louis on I-64. The second section of the piece speaks to this journey. Along that stretch of highway between Edwardsville and downtown St. Louis, the Arch teasingly ducks behind hills and buildings, only to burst back into sight, sparkling in the sun. Then, where I-64 crosses the Mississippi River, the first sight of the Arch in its entirety – steadfast at its post on the western bank, looming over the highway – is nothing short of glorious!
Finally, there is the first breathless moment of standing at the base of the Arch, trying to take in its enormity. That’s impossible – it’s so big! I will always remember the first time I did this, though; all I could think was, “Wow ….”
And then the trip home, with the Arch at my back: a reassuring guardian, a Westward Sentinel.
- Kimberly K. Archer
ABOUT THE COMPOSER
Kimberly K. Archer (b. 1973 in Mendota, IL) is currently serving as Assistant Professor of Composition at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Illinois. She teaches composition, music theory, analysis, counterpoint, and 20th century music. Past appointments include Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Western Carolina University in North Carolina, and Southeast High School in Florida. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Florida State University, a Master of Music in Composition from Syracuse University, and Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from The University of Texas at Austin. Her teachers include David Maslanka, David Gillingham, Andrew Waggoner, Donald Grantham, and Charlie Carter.
Dr. Archer’s music has been performed throughout the United States, including the 2010 National Band Association Convention - Wisconsin Chapter (Moorscape, Awakenings, etc.), the 2009 Nebraska State Bandmasters Association Convention and the 2008 Wisconsin Music Educators Association Convention (Symphony no. 3), the 2007 Oklahoma Music Educators Association Convention (Westward Sentinel), the 2006 CBDNA Southwest Regional Convention (March from Symphony no. 2), the 2003 Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic (Awakenings), and the 2002 CBDNA Southern Regional Convention (
for those taken too soon ...). She has received commissions from such organizations as The United States Air Force Band of Mid-America, Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma, The International Center for New Music at Central Michigan University, the International Women’s Brass Conference, and the Iowa All-State Band, as well as by consortiums of university and high school ensembles around the country.
Dr. Archer is a contributor for Composers on Composing for Band, vol. 4. In addition, her for those taken too soon …. (Symphony no. 1) is featured in an interview in the February 2004 issue of The Instrumentalist, titled “Kimberly Archer Turned Sadness into a Five-Movement Memorial.” She publishes reviews of CD recordings for the International Alliance for Women in Music, and is a recipient of the ASCAPlus award.
All of Dr. Archer’s published music is available from C. Alan Publications in Greensboro, NC. Her Symphony no. 3 (Troy 1152) is recorded on Albany Records. Her Symphony no. 2 (6669-MCD, On Fire) and for those taken too soon… (Symphony no. 1) (7643-MCD, Geometric Dances) are recorded on Mark Custom Recording CD’s.