Music Composer on Route 66: Dr. Nolan Stolz

pattern stories
Written by:
Ed Domain

Now the inspiration to an upcoming Orchestral Suite

The title of his next masterpiece? Route 66 Suite. Dr. Stolz plans to compose five different movements of five minutes each for an approximately 30 minute orchestra. As he travels Route 66, he meets people and sees places along the way that inspire him.

Introduction

Let’s set the mood: I have music playing as I sit and work on the final draft of this article. I’m listening to The Lincoln Highway Suite, composed by Dr. Nolan Stolz, and in this case performed by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra (You can listen along with me on Bandcamp.)

For those that aren’t familiar, The Lincoln Highway was America’s first transcontinental highway that ran from Times Square in New York City west through 13 states to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. It was formally dedicated in October, 1913. Dr. Stolz released TLH in conjunction with its 100-year Anniversary in 2013, and it’s been a success. 

I’m listening to Dr. Stolz’s multi movement orchestral suite, and it is moving. I’m no music expert, but while listening to Movement 3, “Prairie View,” I could see the wide open prairie in my mind and feel the breeze blowing across my face under the deep blue wide open skies of the plains. 

From his website: Nolan Stolz is a composer, scholar, percussionist/drummer, and music professor. Born in Milwaukee, WI, Stolz grew up in Las Vegas, NV, where he worked several years as a freelance jazz drummer. He is Associate Professor and Coordinator of Music at University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg. 

Inspiration is everywhere (view from Tucucmcari Railroad Museum).

The Present: Route 66, Tucucmcari, New Mexico

Those of you that have been following my travels around the state will know I recently left for Tucucmcari, right on Route 66.

I was exploring the town, and made my way over to the excellent Tucumcari RailRoad Museum. I was going there to meet Connie Loveland, Executive Director of Tucumcari Mainstreet.

Right when I walked in the door, I had the type of chance encounter that feels all too common on Route 66; I met a traveler with a story of his own, and I feel lucky to have met him.

The traveling composer with a heart for the Mother Road

Connie graciously introduced me to Dr. Nolan Stolz, who was chatting with her about Tucumcari history. I asked him, “What is a Professor of Music doing traveling Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico?”

“I’m on a sabbatical,” Dr. Stolz explained, “and I’m traveling Route 66 to gather inspiration. I am writing an Orchestral Suite dedicated to Route 66.”

The title of his next masterpiece? Route 66 Suite. Dr. Stolz plans to compose five different movements of five minutes each for an approximately 25-30 minute orchestra. As he travels Route 66, he meets people and sees places along the way that inspire him. 

This will be Dr. Stolz’ second orchestral suite inspired by a highway, the last being The Lincoln Highway. On his website, you can see recognition and numerous awards Dr. Stolz has received for The Lincoln Highway, and he has a Facebook page for it as well.

In 2020, Dr. Stolz won second place  in The American Prize’s Ernst Bacon Award for The Lincoln Highway. He wanted to do a follow up, and felt there was no better subject than the Mother Road. 

As we ended our time together, Dr. Stolz told me he “wants to have his orchestral suite done by ‘23 or ‘24, so that conductors have time to practice for the 100 year anniversary of Route 66 in 2026.”

Keep up with Dr. Stolz on his Facebook page, or you can support him directly via his Patreon page. 

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