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cindy mctee

for wind ensemble

6 minutes



Flutes 1-3
Oboes 1-2
English Horn (optional)
Clarinet in Eb (optional)
Clarinets in Bb 1-3
Bass Clarinet
Eb Contra-alto Clarinet or
Bb Contrabass Clarinet (optional if no
Contrabassoon *)
Saxophones SATB
Bassoons 1-2
Contrabassoon (optional if no Contra
Clarinet *)
Trumpets in Bb 1-2
Horns 1-2
Euphoniums 1-2
Trombones 1-2
Percussion 1-3
Piano (optional but desirable)
Double Bass (optional but desirable *)

* It is desirable to use at least two
of the following bass instruments:
Contra Clarinet (either Eb or Bb),
Contrabassoon, and Double Bass.


Percussion 1
4 Almglocken
Metal Plate
2 Woodblock

Percussion 2
Snare Drum
Small Suspended Cymbal
5 Temple Blocks

Percussion 3
Small Bass Drum
Small Suspended Cymbal

Percussion 4

score & audio examples

for wind ensemble

commercial recording


for information, perusal materials, sales, or rental, please visit

program notes

Circuits was originally written in 1990 for the Denton Chamber Orchestra of Denton, Texas. Shortly thereafter, I created a version for wind ensemble which was introduced to the larger band community in a performance by Ray Cramer and the Indiana University Symphonic Band at the College Band Directors National Association "Golden Anniversary" National Conference in Kansas City, MO in 1991.

In 2011, I bought back the copyrights to Circuits and other works including Soundings, California Counterpoint, and Timepiece with the intention of eventually making all of them available for sale through Bill Holab Music. Following extensive editing and some revisions, Circuits is now ready for purchase. I have dedicated the work to Ray Cramer for his many important contributions to the field and for having supported me personally through his early performance of this, my first “mature” work for band.

I would also like to thank Preston Hazzard and the Creekview High School Band for working with me on this project and for giving this revised version of Circuits it’s first performance.

The title, Circuits, is meant to characterize several important aspects of the work's musical language: a strong reliance upon circuitous structures such as ostinatos; the use of a formal design incorporating numerous, recurring short sections; and the presence of an unrelenting, kinetic energy achieved through the use of 16th notes at a constant tempo of 152 beats per minute.

The inclusion of jazz elements and the playful manipulation of musical materials using syncopation, sudden transposition, and juxtaposition are also characteristic of the work.


. . . a boisterously jazzy sprint . . .

Mark Stryker
Detroit Free Press


The program began with the New York premiere of Cindy McTee's "Circuits," a churning, propulsive exercise in orchestral momentum. Instrumentally sharp-edged and rhythmically insistent throughout, it stood apart from its more opaque companions.

Alex Ross
The New York Times


Cindy McTee brings to the world of concert music a fresh and imaginative voice. Circuits . . . fairly bursts forth with energy and orchestrational flair. This is more than your usual post-minimalism. It is a full-fledged talent that begs not to be categorized but to be recognized as a true original.

Citation from
The American Academy of Arts and Letters


Last night's program at the kennedy Center opened with a Slatkin specialty, a recently written "accessible" work by an American composer. Cindy McTee's "Circuits," completed in 1992, chugs along for all its six minutes at a very steady if urgently quick pace. McTee avoids the rock-influenced composer's tendency to overuse the percussion section. The percussion parts are central to "Circuits" yet remain humbly, whimsically in an accompanying role, and she makes charming use of bright, perky instruments – cowbells, wood blocks, a glockenspiel. Despite the electronic title, the piece is on a perceptibly human scale; indeed at moments "Circus" might have been a more appropriate title. I wish they had played it twice.

Pierre Ruhe
The Washington Post


[Circuits ] lasted only six minutes, but its energy, crisp orchestral color and lively percussion left me wanting much more.

John Huxbold
The St. Louis Post Dispatch


[Circuits ] is a whirlwind of a piece in which repeated patterns fly by with relentless energy. McTee has a knack for joining fragments into nonstop figures, and her percussion writing runs the gamut from subtle to booming. Other composers in recent years have latched onto this bright, breathless style, but McTee makes a refreshing thing of it in six minutes.

Donald Rosenberg
The Plain Dealer


Circuits, a frequently performed work, is an exuberant piece for orchestra whose elements include some fast ostinatos that could arguable be considered minimalist, and some sharp punctuation by the percussion that brings on irreverent thoughts of Spike Jones and his City Slickers. It's a blast, and a refutation of the charge that modern composers don't know how to express joy.

Olin Chism
The Dallas Morning News


McTee explained Circuits in such terms as "energy," "movement" and "circles." In this work she transposes those qualities into a witty, exciting essay, its unfailing continuity based on persistent melodic-rhythmic motives repeated with subtle variations.

Cecilia Porter
The Washington Post


. . . a brief barnburner of a score . . . Circuits has minimalist leanings, but is richer in its tonal palette and harmonic textures . . . with its whirring string passages punctuated by rippling percussion . . . 

Channing Gray
The Providence Journal


With its racing ostinato figures, percussion pratfalls and daredevil stunts, and jazzy syncopations, [Circuits] has an almost Keystone Kops kind of wit. It zips by on fast-forward and you're left breathless and chuckling at the end.

Ellen Pfeifer
The Boston Globe


. . . music with visceral appeal.

Gary A. Panetta
The Peoria Journal Star


. . . a delightful 10-minute romp that combined jazzy brass, whimsical percussion and driving, repetitive string phrases . . .

T.J. Medrek
The Boston Herald


Slatkin opened his account in hard-edged fashion with the aerobic busyness of Circuits by an American composer, Cindy McTee. Short circuits are normally regarded as undesirable but I doubt if anyone found fault with this Circuits for being short. It belongs to the category of trim, fast, precisely engineered music that measures out its distance and reaches it on time, without the slightest suggestion of dawdling or indulgence. It has affinities with the brisk, fat-free music Michael Torke wrote for the Olympic Games in Atlanta and might well be used to focus the minds of athletes getting ready for sudden and decisive movement.

Roger Covel
The Sydney Morning Herald


Circuits . . . was a charging, churning celebration of the musical and cultural energy of modern-day America. From repetitive ideas reminiscent of Steve Reich to walking bass lines straight from jazz, Circuits refracted important American musical styles of this century. Similarly, the kaleidoscope of melodies, musical "licks" and fragmented form aptly illustrated the electric, almost convulsive nature of American society near the start of the 21st century.

Charles Ward
The Houston Chronicle


"Circuits" . . . packs enormous fun into less than five minutes of music. The idiom is approximately minimalist, but far from mechanistic - it's all urban exuberance, intricately detailed, full of surprising orchestral color and more than slightly wacky.

Mike Greenberg
The San Antonio Express-News


The short, festive work was . . . as vital and seamless as electric current.

Wynne Delacoma
The Chicago Sun-Times


"Circuits" was . . . fast-paced, highly energetic, extremely rhythmic, full of unusual percussion effects and just plain delightful.

Nat Bauer
The Rockford Register Star


McTee's "Circuits: A Concert Overture'' opened the concert in a brisk, forward-looking fashion. With the strings as a strong undercurrent of power and the winds and percussion acting as bright and bold flavoring, ``Circuits'' speeds along its merry way. Born in Tacoma and a former student of the eminent Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, McTee has fashioned a pleasant and melodic work that would give any concert a proper sendoff.

R. M. Campbell
Seattle Post-Intelligencer


A modern piece that was just plain fun, Circuits got the night rolling.

Abbie Dombrock
The River Cities' Reader


Though the "Concerto for Saxophones" might have been the most unusual work on the Omaha Symphony's first Masterworks program of the 2007 season, it wasn't the only draw. The orchestra, under the direction of music director Thomas Wilkins, also performed American composer Cindy McTee's dizzying "Circuits," and Tchaikovsky's masterful "Symphony No. 4 in F Major."

Ashley Hassebroek
Omaha World-Herald