“For much of his professional life, Ed Wolfe has been making musical notes about the things he sees much the way anyone else would jot reflections in a journal.
For the most part, those notes went into files because, for 38 years, Wolfe had to make a living as a junior and senior high band director.
But the freshly retired 61-year-old does not have that problem any more. He has the time and he has the money and he is making the most of both to turn his jottings into full compositions.
So it has been with “Teton Sketches,” a composition that began years ago when he noted his impressions as he gazed through the panoramic window of a lodge high in the mountains.
He captured both the literal vista before him and the one in his imagination where animals and native Americans moved through the forest, using the medium he loves, music.
Those notes have matured into “Teton Sketches,” which will debut when the California Chamber Orchestra opens its season Saturday at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater.
Wolfe is one of four composers whose works make up the program for the season opener and the only one still alive. The others are Arthur Honegger, a 20th century French composer who died in 1955, Jacques Ibert, who died in 1962, and American composer Samuel Barber, who died in 1981.
Honegger was among the Les Ses, French composers whose music was drawn from everyday life, rather than the loftier themes that marked much of the music the preceded them. His “Pastorale d’ete” was drawn from a Bernese Alps vacation he took in 1920.
The Barber selection is “Capricorn Concerto,” drawn from his experience at his home on the Hudson River and written while he was in the Army in 1944.
Ibert’s “The Italian Straw Hat” is the musical story of a hat that disappears on the owner’s wedding day.
Wolfe said that, after he retired last year, he reconnected with some of the people who had passed through his life during his student and teaching years, among them Warren Gref, artistic director for the Golden Valley Music Society, and director of its California Chamber Orchestra.
Wolfe was working on a master’s degree in music composition at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque when Gref arrived as the new horn instructor.They got together in Wolfe’s revived brass quintet and put together a program for educational presentations, weddings and church gigs, among other settings.
They left Albuquerque about the same time eight years later, Gref for San Diego and Wolfe for San Dimas.
Now that he is retired, Wolfe said he wants to perform again, perhaps put the brass quintet back together, teach and compose.
“I want to keep my hand in and spend some time in my home,” he said. “It goes where it goes. I’ll take it a year at a time.”
He has put together a state-of-the-art studio at home and has begun giving lessons, performing and pulling out those long-ago musical notes to turn into full compositions.
When he contacted Gref, he found a willing conscript.
“Warren asked me whether I had anything for chamber orchestra.” As it happened, he had only recently finished “Teton Sketches” and Gref put in the orchestra’s season opener.
Gref will also use a technique the orchestra has employed in other performances. He has turned “Teton Sketches” into a visual, as well as aural, experience with photos of the mountains around the Teton peaks projected onto a screen behind the orchestra while the music plays.
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13
Where: Old Town Temecula Community Theater, 42051 Main St., Temecula
Tickets: $12.50-$30 (Temecula Presents package price $100-$130″