Black Bear Dance

by Pamela J. Marshall

for 4 horns or horn choir and drum

Duration ~4 min.


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Black Bear Dance for horn ensemble is a jazzy, light-hearted, stomping piece for either a quartet or choir of horns, with African drums. It is fun to play!

The composer writes:

“In Black Bear Dance, I indulge my love of drumming, which really energizes the horn sound. The title comes from a line in the text for my choral piece “Weaving the World“: “and black bears roam the woods unseen”. The choral director rehearsed it a lot, looking for a natural declamation and in-tune intervals and the image of a secret dance of bears stuck in my mind. I worried that the name might imply American Indian, which the music is not. Then on the Internet I found the Bear Dance painting of William Holbrook Beard. Aside from the fact that he was mocking stock-market bears, the image was just right.”

The composing of Black Bear Dance was supported by the Spindrift Commissioning Guild. Read about the Black Bear Dance project.

There’s also a version for clarinet choir.


Listen to the premiere of Black Bear Dance. The ensemble is Esprit de Cor of Lexington, MA, conducted by David Archibald.

In the summer of 2006, the horn choir at the International Horn Society Workshop in South Africa played Black Bear Dance.