5 Notes about Carl Strommen’s Latest Composition, “Atlas Rising”

WorldStrides OnStage has the pleasure of working with renowned composer and arranger Carl Strommen. Carl Strommen has been a favorite instrumental adjudicator at our New York Heritage Festival for years. Each year, band directors traveling to a bowl game or parade event with WorldStrides OnStage receive a FREE commissioned original concert band piece by Strommen. This year’s commissioned piece is “Atlas Rising.” Read below for five notes about this piece that makes it so special!

  • “Atlas Rising” is named after the bronze sculpture by Lee Lawrie that depicts the Greek Titan, Atlas, carrying the heavens on his shoulders. The sculpture sits in front of Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan, New York City.
  • The piece was composed exclusively for music directors who have traveled with WorldStrides OnStage. This is the third piece Strommen has composed, and is somewhat more challenging than the previous two pieces, “Kivgik” and “Albion Sketches.”
  • “Titles are always a problem,” says Strommen, “so after listening to a few playbacks, the image of this very imposing image came to mind. A strong opening choral, the very ‘Presto’ and rhythmic middle section with strong percussion and an ostinato/pedal tone vibraphone part (xylophone – too brittle – bells too piercing) and a big broad slower ensemble ending gives ‘Atlas’ the strength found in the Lawrie statue.”
  • “Choosing music for one’s performing group is always a challenge,” Strommen notes. “Like a coach fronting a winning team the director wants his performances to be musical – not just fighting with notes. Too difficult? Too easy? Finding that level that challenges rather than overwhelms your students is key – and that level can change every year. During Heritage Festivals, we look for not so much the level of play – but will it receive, at any level, the best of all compliments – that it was a ‘musical’ performance.”
  • Strommen often adjudicates in the city where the piece got its namesake. WorldStrides OnStage hosts an adjudicated music festival in New York City at Riverside Church every spring. Strommen is one of our favorite adjudicators!“I really enjoy getting to work with directors and students in person,” reports Strommen. Having seen him in action – we can attest – Strommen has a way of connecting with the students and providing feedback that is not only useful, but often echoes what the director is working on. Sometimes it just clicks when a student hears it from someone else!

Listen for yourself – Click to hear “Atlas Rising”

Strommen’s arrangements and compositions have been performed worldwide and published by Warner Bros., Belwin, Alfred Music, Carl Fischer Music, C.L. Barnhouse, Kendor Music, and Smart Chart. A resident of Long Island, New York, he holds an M.A. in Music from The City College of New York and is an adjunct professor of orchestration/arranging and composition in the Graduate School of Long Island University Post.

Learn more about our WorldStrides OnStage performing programs.


Article written by Lauren Perpetua

Lauren Perpetua
Lauren is passionate about telling the life-changing stories that performing travel can provide. When not exploring the stages around the world, she can be found outside biking, hiking, and loving life with her twin boys and husband.