New Mexico Composers' Archive

Publication Date



“Valle Grande: Overture for Double String Orchestra,” commissioned by the Eldorado High School Orchestra in Albuquerque NM, was premiered by the school's top two string orchestras, conducted by Ruth Striegel on May 3, 2016. It was inspired by a trip that the conductor and I and the students made to Valles Caldera National Preserve the previous September.

When Ruth asked me to write a piece for her orchestras that was inspired by a place I loved in New Mexico, it coincided with the opening of the preserve. Since the Jemez Mountains are my favorite place in the state, I had often admired the expansive caldera—then private land—from the highway. But getting a guided tour of it with the students was a peak experience—a lovely confluence of old and new.


A single-movement work for two high-school string-orchestras

Associated Publications

A sequenced performance may be heard & downloaded at


M. Mauldin


high-school string orchestra, double string orchestra, cinematic music

Document Type

Musical Score


Duration: 4:46 Several conductors suggested that the less-experienced group ("Orchestra 2") works well when seated in the middle of the stage, surrounded by sections of the more advanced group ("Orchestra 1").

The wandering opening of the piece is reminiscent of the winding road we took then, and the arduous journey that the first visitors made. The "airborne" primary melody reflects the joy of experiencing the broad overview and the enchanting details of the expanse. The pensive second melody imagines the adversities—loneliness, loss of loved ones, hunger, harsh winters—that early settlers experienced there. Developments of those two melodies occupy the middle of the piece, followed by a return to the wandering introduction and celebratory ending.

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