Concert Program Notes

Why Women Went West - A new opera by Pamela Madsen, funded by NEA & Opera America • Saturday, Sept. 17


Act I: Earth Horizon

Earth Horizon, inspired by Mary Hunter Austin’s autobiography, focuses on her early life and the awakening of her artistic soul, the call of mystical powers of nature and the need for self-reliance and autonomy within the oppressive culture of Victorian Society. After the crisis of the death of her father and her sister, she must decide to leave her home in Illinois, and travel west with her mother and siblings to find a better life—to go west to California. Mary initiates this escape by imagining herself as a writer, and drawing power from the supernatural, and her alignment with the earth.

Echo-Empathy Superimposition opens the opera with projected video, and electronics “calling down the echo” that invoke the dark, mystical underside of late 19th century Victorian society with images of oppression and societal rejection. After the death of her father and sister, Mary confronts her own youthful challenges by coming to grips with the awakening of her mystical powers of creative vision. In Come Softly Mary reveals the calling of her forbidden passions for her life as an actor and playwright. The Bird’s Here invokes the birds of day to help her take flight. Owl’s Breath invokes the vision of the night for power to overcome the unknown. In The Necessary she discovers that she is not alone in the world and seeks understanding about herself and to reveal “what is necessary” to embark on her journey of discovery. Finally, in Hunting Weather she moves into a trance-like state, singing to herself, to find the will and courage to embark on this unknown journey.

Scene I: Echo: Empathy Superimposition, Video, and electronics

After the death of her father and sister, Mary Hunter Austin confronts youthful challenges, coming to grips with the awakening of her mystical powers of creative vision.

Scene II: Come Softly for ensemble and soprano                                                                          
The young, visionary, Mary, awakens the mystical inspirations of her youth with her visions of what she sees outside her window—the window of her future self.

Scene III: Getting this Said for ensemble, voice and spatialized ensemble

Mary hears the calling of the mystical spirit of ancient voices of the dead, conjuring up future imaginings of native American Navajo voices that spur her on to her decision to go west.

Scene IV: The Birds Here for piano, soprano, video and electronics

Mary  calls down the birds, a symbol of the power and wildness of nature, to give her power in her flight and accompany her in her journey west.

Scene V. Owl’s Breath for bass clarinet, video and electronics

Mary channels and embodies the power of vision in darkness of the Owl—and realizes the potential for her own existence as a woman beyond post-Victorian society.

Scene VI. The Necessary for video and electronics

Mary realizes  that she is not alone in the world and seeks understanding about herself and what is necessary to embark on her journey of discovery.

Scene VII. Hunting Weather for ensemble and soprano

Mary moves into a trance-like state, envisioning her future, singing to herself about the misty mornings of Hunting Weather and her will to journey west.

 

Act II. The Land of Little Rain to The Land of Journey’s Ending

During her journey west, Mary encounters marriage, childbirth, abuse and abandonment. She struggles with her dual existence as a kept woman (I, Mary), and her self-reliance (Mary by herself). Journey to the Land of the Moon sets the scene of the heroic journey west by train, across the plains and through hostile territories of the desert southwest. She arrives in California, the Country of Lost Borders, where she encounters “something out there” and the vastness of the distant Rio Grande. In This Cold Wind she encounters the desolation and dangerous challenges of nature that inspires her artistic vision. Prayer for My Daughter reveals Mary’s decision to abandon her disabled daughter Ruth and place her in an institution, during the challenging change of seasons in the wild west and reveals Mary’s growing distance from her family and her past. Mary wanders in the desert, seeking solace in Water Trails of the Ceriso/57 Buzzards where the forces of nature in the guise of menacing turkey vultures conspire to destroy her life.  In The Consecrating Mother, Mary overcomes severe illness and adversity. This prompts her to find a link to the larger artist community as a published author supporting herself that ends her self-imposed alienation. Reacting to the conflicting voices in her head, she finally resolves to escape and finds herself as an artist. As noted in her autobiography The Land of Journey’s Ending, Medicine Wheel depicts her travels in the high desert plains on indigenous lands encountering mystical enchantment. Finally, in Going West, Mary contemplates the harrowing solitude of her existence and proceeds alone to the wild west, traveling to New Mexico to live amongst fellow artists.

Scene I. Journey to the Land of the Moon for ensemble

An instrumental depiction of Mary’s journey west.

Scene II. Country of Lost Borders-This Cold Wind for ensemble and voice

Mary arrives in California and encounters the desolation and dangerous challenges of nature that inspires her artistic vision.

Scene III. Prayer for My Daughter for violin, cello, piano, and voice

Prayer for My Daughter reveals Mary’s decision to abandon her disabled daughter Ruth and place her in an institution.

Scene IV. Water Trails of the Ceriso/57 Buzzards for violin, cello, and flute, clarinet with spatialized improvisatory ensemble

Mary encounters the joy and challenges of nature in the Eastern Sierras. In the multi-layered piece Water Trails of the Ceriso /57 Buzzards. Mary’s fate in her journey west is decided by the attack of the buzzards.

Scene V. The Consecrating Mother: I Mary, Mary by Herself for cello, piano, voice

Mary struggles with her decision to abandon her daughter. Reacting to the conflicting voices in her head, she finally resolves to escape and find herself as an artist.

Scene VI: Medicine Wheel for ensemble

Mary imagines the wild ride west and envisions the mystical encounters within the desert high plains of New Mexico.

Scene VII: Going West for ensemble, voice

Mary imagines the future of her existence and contemplates the challenging solitude of her life alone in the wild west.

University Symphony Orchestra • Saturday, October 8, 2022

 

La Péri fanfare | PAUL DUKAS

Paul Dukas is largely known by his great tone poem The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. La Peri is Dukas’ only ballet. The story of the ballet concerns a Persian nobleman named Iskender who takes the Flower of Immortality from a Peri (a fairy-like being).  The beguiling Peri dances for the nobleman until he surrenders the flower to her. Instantly, the Peri disappears and Iskender is surrounded by the shroud of mortality. The stirring brass fanfare which precedes the ballet has not related thematically but serves as a brilliant curtain raiser.

 

Rhapsody in Blue (Whiteman arrangement, 1924) | GEORGE GERSHWIN, ARR. FERDE GROFÉ, ED. RYAN RAUL BAÑAGALE

Rhapsody in Blue received it premiere performance in 1924 by Paul Whiteman and his Palais Royal Orchestra with Gershwin himself as soloist. By all accounts it was a triumphant success. Many of the most prominent classical musical artists of the day attended the concert. Hereafter Gershwin was to be known not only as a songwriter from Tin Pan Alley but also as a gifted composer of concert music.  From its famous introductory clarinet glissando to its dizzying virtuosic solo piano passages Rhapsody in Blue remains one of the finest examples of the synthesis of jazz and "classical" styles in the whole of the symphonic repertoire. Perhaps even more important is the way Gershwin described his own initial conception of the work. 

"I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America---of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our blues, our metropolitan madness."

 

L’Apprenti Sorcier (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) | PAUL DUKAS

Dukas published only a handful of pieces and burned every one of his unpublished manuscripts. He was known as something of a perfectionist, and one story has it that we only have The Sorcerer’s Apprentice because Maurice Ravel won it off him in a bet. We must also thank Walt Disney for making this piece so widely known through his animated character Mickey Mouse who plays the lead role in both the original Fantasia and its sequel, Fantasia 2000. The literary source for this a poem in the form of a ballad, which was also written by Goethe. One can say that this piece is the best 'Magical Incantation' in all of classical music.

 

Night on Bald Mountain | MODEST MUSSORGSKY (COMPLETED AND ORCHESTRATED BY NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV)

As with so much of Mussorgsky’s music, Night on Bald Mountain had a tortuous compositional history. In a letter to his friend, composer Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky noted that he finished “St. John’s Night on the Bald Mountain” (Russian: Иванова ночь на лысой горе, Ivanova noch’na lïsoy gore) on St. John’s Eve, 23rd June, 1867. However, he could not get a performance arranged, and was under some pressure from colleagues to improve the orchestration, which they considered crude and barbaric. It would never be performed in any form during Mussorgsky’s lifetime. In fact, wasn't until after Mussorgsky’s death that Rimsky-Korsakov revised and re-orchestrated the piece, introducing it to audiences in 1886. It has since become a concert favorite.

Mussorgsky’s first ideas for a work set on St. John’s Eve go back to 1858, when he discussed with Balakirev and others plans to write a three-act opera based on Gogo’s short story St. John’s Eve (Russian: Вечер накануне Ивана Купала, Vecher nakanune Ivana Kupala, St. John’s Eve). According to Russian folklore, on St. John’s Eve (23rd June), Tchemobog (Satan) and his witches, sorcerers, and evil spirits gather on Bare Mountain for a night of revelry.  Gogol’s bloody adaptation contains the elements of devilry and witchcraft common to other stories in the Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka collection, but does not, as is often claimed, feature a witches’ Sabbath. Although Mussorgsky may have composed thematic sketches for this project, his plans were not mentioned again.

The theme of a witches’ Sabbath, the central theme in all subsequent Night on Bald Mountain projects, appears to have been derived from the nonexistent play The Witch (Russian: Ведьма, Ved’ma, Witch) by Baron Georgy Mengden, a military friend of the composer. In 1860 Mussorgsky informed Balakirev that he had been commissioned to write one act of an opera on this subject. However, as with the previous project, it is unknown whether any materials were composed, and if so, whether they were transferred to subsequent projects.

Other incarnations appear to have been written or conceived, only to be discarded or co-opted into other projects until this “final” 1886 version. Rimsky-Korsakov had stated, “When I started putting it (the music left by Mussorgsky upon his death) in order with the intention of creating a workable concert piece, I took everything I considered the best and most appropriate out of the late composer’s remaining materials to give coherence and wholeness to this work.” He apparently did not make use of the original tone poem of 1867 in making his revision. The published score of his edition states “Completed and orchestrated by N. Rimsky-Korsakov, 1886.” If he had the score of the 1867 tone poem at hand, he would have noticed that it was both completed and orchestrated. He also did not remember Mussorgsky’s letter to him announcing that he had finished the work on St. John’s Day, composed directly into full orchestral score (a practice unusual for him). Mussorgsky's manuscript is believed to have been lost since.

The Rimsky-Korsakov edition is by any standards a highly polished and effective score, which has proved brilliantly successful, becoming one of the most popular works in the orchestral literature.

 

Capriccio Espagnol, op. 34 | NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV

Capriccio Espagnol, composed in 1887, was given its premiere in St. Petersburg on October 31 of that year, with Rimsky-Korsakov himself conducting. The work is laid out in five brief sections, which fall into two larger divisions. The first of these larger divisions comprises a vigorous Alborada for full orchestra, a set of five Variations on a theme announced by the horns, and a repetition of the Alborada with certain changes--and, one might say, exchanges--in the instrumentation. (A clarinet solo from the first section is assigned now to the violin, a violin cadenza given now to the clarinet, etc.) The second major division is a two-part finale whose first section, the Scene and Gypsy Song, is a sequence of five cadenzas (to balance the five variations heard earlier) for various solo instruments or small groups, capped by the impassioned and soaring Gypsy song in the strings. This is broken off by the assertive arrival of the Fandango of the Asturias, in which themes from the preceding sections are recalled along the way to the tumultuous conclusion. Tchaikovsky, who saw the score before the work's premiere, ended a letter to Rimsky with the declaration "that your ‘Spanish Capriccio' is a colossal masterpiece of instrumentation, and you may regard yourself as the greatest master of the present day." The letter was followed up on the day after the premiere with a gift of a silver laurel wreath. The musicians in the orchestra were no less enthusiastic, interrupting rehearsals frequently to applaud the composer-conductor. At the premiere itself the audience demanded a full repetition as soon as the first performance ended. When the score was published, Rimsky saw to it that the dedication was not merely to the orchestra as a collective body, but to every one of the musicians, whom he named individually.

University Wind Symphony & CSUF Symphonic Winds • Sunday, October 9, 2022

Festive Overture, op. 96 (1954) | DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH

 

            Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich (25 September 1906, Saint Petersburg, Russia – 9 August 1975, Moscow, Russia) was a Russian composer who lived under the Soviet regime. Shostakovich had a complex and difficult relationship with the Soviet government, suffering two official denunciations of his music, in 1936 and 1948, and the periodic banning of his work. Shostakovich's response to official criticism and, more importantly, the question of whether he used music as a kind of abstract dissidence is a matter of dispute. Outwardly he conformed to government policies and positions, reading speeches, and putting his name to articles expressing the government line. It is also generally agreed that he disliked the regime, a view confirmed by his family and his letters to Isaak Glikman. Shostakovich prided himself on his orchestration, which is clear, economical, and well-projected. This aspect of Shostakovich's technique owes more to Gustav Mahler than Rimsky-Korsakov. His unique approach to tonality involved the use of modal scales and some astringent neo-classical harmonies à la Hindemith and Prokofiev. His music frequently includes sharp contrasts and elements of the grotesque.

His most popular works are his 15 symphonies and 15 string quartets. His works for piano include two piano sonatas, an early set of preludes, and a later set of 24 preludes and fugues. Other works include two operas, six concertos, and a substantial quantity of film music.

 

On Festive Overture:

 

            The gestation of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture has been subject to several different theories. One author claims that it was originally written in 1947, but was suppressed by Shostakovich along with many of his compositions created during this repressive period of Soviet history. Others believe that the celebratory quality of the overture displays Shostakovich’s relief at the death of Josef Stalin (in 1953), whose regime had twice censored the composer and his music. Most probably, the work was commissioned for a gathering at the Bolshoi Theater in November of 1954, celebrating the 37th anniversary of the October Revolution. The conductor, Vasili Nebolsin, realized that he had no appropriate piece to open the high-profile concert. He approached Shostakovich, who was at the time a musical consultant at the Bolshoi. The composer set to work, and the overture was completed in three days, the individual pages of the score being taken by courier before the ink had dried to copyists waiting at the theater to create the orchestra parts. Although written in haste, the overture has proved to be one of Shostakovich’s most frequently performed works.

 

- Program Note from University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wind Ensemble concert program, 19 November 2015

 

 

Shoutout (2009) | ROSHANNE ETEZADY

 

>            Roshanne Etezady (b. 1973) is an American composer and educator. As a young musician, Roshanne studied piano and flute, and developed an interest in many different styles of music, from the musicals of Stephen Sondheim to the 1980’s power ballads and Europop of her teenage years. One fateful evening in 1986, she saw Philip Glass and his ensemble perform as the musical guests on Saturday Night Live. This event marked the beginning of her interest in contemporary classical music, as well as her interest in being a composer herself.  Dr. Etezady holds academic degrees from Northwestern University and Yale University, and she has worked intensively with numerous composers, including William Bolcom, Martin Bresnick, Michael Daugherty, and Ned Rorem. She completed her doctorate at the University of Michigan in March 2005. Since then, Etezady's works have been commissioned by the Albany Symphony, Dartmouth Symphony, eighth blackbird, Music at the Anthology, and the PRISM Saxophone Quartet. She has been a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Performers and ensembles including Rêlache, Amadinda Percussion Ensemble, Ensemble De Ereprijs, and the Dogs of Desire have performed Etezady’s music throughout the United States and Europe. Roshanne Etezady’s music has earned recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Korean Society of 21st Century Music, the Jacob K. Javits Foundation, Meet the Composer, and ASCAP. 

As one of the founding members of the Minimum-Security Composers Collective, Etezady has helped expand the audience for new music. Through collaborative projects with performing ensembles as well as creative outreach programs, MSCC creates an open dialogue between composers, performers, and audiences.  An active teacher, Etezady has taught at the Interlochen Arts Camp, Yale University, Saint Mary’s College, and the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. She has given master classes at Holy Cross College, the Juilliard School, and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.

 

On Shoutout:

 

            Shoutout, a rich and vibrant opening fanfare, signals good things to come. The prominent motive in the piece, two quick staccato notes, mimics the articulation of the word “shoutout.” 

The piece is organized into three main sections: an opening section that features the main motive above constant background chatter, a calmer section with solo lines and rolling piano figures, and an energetic “dance” with a hard groove. The piece ends with a spirited call of the “shoutout” motive. 

 

- Program Note by Lindsay Bronnenkant for the University of Michigan concert program, 22 February 2018

 

 

Fantasia in G Major (1703-1707) | JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH

 

            Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. Bach enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg concerti, the Mass in B minor, The Well-Tempered Clavier, two Passions, keyboard works, and more than 300 cantatas, of which nearly 100 cantatas have been lost to posterity. His music is revered for its intellectual depth, technical command, and artistic beauty. Bach was born in Eisenach, Saxe-Eisenach, into a great musical family; his father, Johann Ambrosius Bach, was the director of the town musicians, and all his uncles were professional musicians. His father probably taught him to play violin and harpsichord, and his brother, Johann Christoph Bach, taught him the clavichord and exposed him to much contemporary music. Apparently at his own initiative, Bach attended St Michael's School in Lüneburg for two years. After graduating, he held several musical posts across Germany: he served as Kapellmeister (director of music) to Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen, Cantor of the Thomasschule in Leipzig, and Royal Court Composer to August III. Bach's health and vision declined in 1749, and he died on 28 July 1750. Modern historians believe that his death was caused by a combination of stroke and pneumonia. Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected throughout Europe during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest and performances of his music in the first half of the nineteenth century. He is now generally regarded as one of the main composers of the Baroque period, and as one of the greatest composers of all time.

 

On Fantasia in G Major:

 

The great G Major Fantasia for organ was composed between 1703 and 1707 during Bach's residence in Arnstadt. It was here, at the beginning of his career, that his music was found to be too full of "wonderful variations and foreign tones"; and certainly, the Fantasia is strikingly dissonant in its constant texture of suspensions. But the breadth of the five-part polyphonic writing and the richness of the harmonic sonority make the Fantasia one of the grandest of all Bach's compositions for organ. It is also one that lends itself most perfectly to the sound and sonorities of the modern wind band. The transcription by  Richard Franko Goldman  and Robert L. Leist was undertaken as a memorial to Edwin Franko Goldman, who was the first bandmaster to include the works of Bach regularly in the band's concert repertoire, and who did so much to introduce the music of this great master to wide audiences. In this transcription an attempt is made to recapture the sound of the Baroque organ through the medium of the modern band. The first performance of this transcription was given by The Goldman Band, Richard Franko Goldman conducting, on July 1, 1957.

 

- Note by MusicExpert.com

 

 

Armenian Dances, Part 1 (1972) | ALFRED REED

 

            Alfred Reed (25 January 1921, Manhattan, N.Y. – 17 September 2005, Miami, Fla.) was an American composer, arranger, conductor, and educator. 

Born into a family of Austrian descent that cherished music, Alfred Reed began his musical studies at age ten on trumpet, and by high school age he was performing professionally in the Catskills at resort hotels. He served as musician and arrangement during World War II in the 529th Army Air Force Band, for which he created more than 100 works, and following the war was a student of Vittorio Giannini at Juilliard. 

He was staff composer and arranger for both the National Broadcasting Corporation and the American Broadcating Corporation. In 1953, Mr. Reed became conductor of the Baylor Symphony Orchestra at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, at the same time completing his academic work; he received his B.M. in 1955 and his M.M. in 1956. His Master’s thesis was the Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra, which later was to win the Luria Prize. It received its first performance in 1959 and was subsequently published in 1966. During his two years at Baylor, he also became interested in the problems of educational music at all levels, especially in the development of repertoire materials for school bands, orchestras, and choruses. This led, in 1955, to his accepting the post of editor at Hansen Publishing in New York. 

In 1966 he left this post to join the faculty of the School of Music at the University of Miami, holding a joint appointment in the Theory-Composition and Music Education departments, and to develop the unique (at the time) Music Industry degree program at that institution, of which he became director. With over 250 published works for concert band, wind ensemble, orchestra, chorus, and various smaller chamber music groups, many of which have been on the required performance lists in this country for the past 20 years, Mr. Reed was one of the nation’s most prolific and frequently performed composers. His work as a guest conductor and clinician took him to 49 states, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia and South America, and for many years, at least eight of his works have been on the required list of music for all concert bands in Japan, where he was the most frequently performed foreign composer today. He left New York for Miami, Florida, in 1960, where he made his home until his death.

 

On Armenian Dances, Part One:

 

            The Armenian Dances, Parts I and II, constitute a four-movement suite for concert band or wind ensemble based on authentic Armenian folk songs from the collected works of Gomidas Vartabed (1869-1935), the founder of Armenian classical music.

Part I, containing the first movement of this suite (the remaining three movements constituting Part II), is an extended symphonic rhapsody built upon five different songs, freely treated, and developed in terms of the modern, integrated concert band or wind ensemble. While the composer has kept his treatment of the melodies within the general limits imposed on the music by its very nature, he has not hesitated to expand the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic possibilities in keeping with the demands of a symphonic-instrumental, as opposed to an individual vocal or choral, approach to its performance. Nevertheless, it is hoped that the overall effect of the music will be found to remain true in spirit to the work if this brilliant composer-musicologist, who almost single-handedly preserved and gave to the world a treasure trove of beautiful folk music that to this day has not yet become as widely known in the Western world as it so richly deserves. Hopefully, this new instrumental setting will prove to be at least a small step in this direction.

Part I of the Armenian Dances was completed in the summer of 1972 and first performed by Dr. Harry Begian, (to whom the work is dedicated), and the University of Illinois Symphonic Band, on January 10, 1973, at the C.B.D.N.A. Convention in Urbana, Illinois.

Gomidas Vartabed (1869-1935), the founder of Armenian classical music, is credited with collecting well over four thousand Armenian folk songs. Born Soghomon Soghomonian in Keotahya, a small town in Anatolia, Turkey, he would later be given the name Gomidas. His exceptional lyric voice led the prelate of the region to select the orphan Soghomon, at the age of eleven, to study at the Kevorkian Seminary in Etchmiadzin, Armenia. He was ordained an Apegha (monk) in 1895, at which time he assumed the name Gomidas, after the Armenian architect-musician Catholicos Gomidas. His desire for further musical training led him first to studies with Magar Yekmalian in Tiflis, Georgia, and from 1896-1899 to Berlin, where he studied at the Richard Schmidt Conservatory, as well as Frederic Wilhelm University, under eminent musicians of the time. In 1899 he graduated from both the Conservatory and the University, receiving his Ph.D. in musicology; his dissertation topic was Kurdish Music.

Gomidas was a founding member of the International Music Society (1899-1912), for which he read important papers on Armenian neumatic notation, the structure of Armenian sacred melodies and folk melodies. At the age of forty-six, at the apex of his career, Gomidas was exiled, together with other Armenian intellectuals, by the Turks, in April 1915, at which time the genocide of one and a half million Armenians took place. He was released within a short time, but the sufferings and atrocities which he had witnessed resulted in a complete mental and physical breakdown from which he never recovered. He died in Paris in 1935. His legacy to the Armenian people, and to the world's ethnic music, is invaluable, and his major contribution lies in preserving so many centuries-old melodies from obscurity, or oblivion.

Part I of the Armenian Dances is built upon five Armenian folk songs which were first notated, purified, researched, and later arranged by Gomidas for solo voice with piano accompaniment, or unaccompanied chorus. In order of their appearance in the score, they are: Tzirani Tzar (The Apricot Tree); Gakavi Yerk (Partridge's Song); Hoy, Nazan Eem (Hoy, My Nazan); Alagyaz and Gna, Gna (Go, Go).

The Apricot Tree consists of three organically connected songs which were transcribed in 1904. Its declamatory beginning, rhythmic vitality and ornamentation make this a highly expressive song. The Partridge's Song is an original song by Gomidas; it was published in 1908 in Tiflis, Georgia. He originally arranged it for solo voice and children's choir, and later for solo voice with piano accompaniment. It has a simple, delicate melody which might, perhaps, be thought of as depicting the tiny steps of the partridge. Hoy, Nazan Eem was published in 1908, in a choral version arranged by Gomidas. This lively, lyric love song depicts a young man singing the praises of his beloved Nazan (a girl's name). The song has dance rhythms and ornamentation which make it an impressive, catchy tune. Alagyaz (name of a mountain in Armenia), was first written by Gomidas for solo voice with piano accompaniment, and in a choral arrangement. It is a beloved Armenian folk song, and it long-breathed melody is as majestic as the mountain itself. Go, Go is a humorous, light-textured tune. In performance, Gomidas coupled it with a contrasting slower song, The Jug. Its repeated note pattern musically depicts the expression of laughter. This song also is in recitative style.

 

- Program Note by Violet Vagramian, Florida International University

 

 

Petals of Fire (2017) | ZHOU TIAN

 

            Zhou Tian (pronounced JOH TEE-en; Zhou is his last name. b. 22 December 1981, Hangzhou, China) is an American composer and educator. Zhou came of age in a new China marked by economic reforms, and was in the United States by his 19th birthday. Trained at the Curtis Institute of Music (B.M.), the Juilliard School (M.M.) and the University of Southern California (D.M.A.), he studied with some of America’s finest composers, such as Jennifer HigdonChristopher Rouse, and Stephen Hartke. He is associate professor of composition at Michigan State University College of Music.  Zhou's "Concerto for Orchestra" -- commissioned and recorded by the Cincinnati Symphony and Music Director Louis Langrée -- was nominated for a 2018 GRAMMY Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. “Transcend,” his new work commissioned by 13 American orchestras commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad’s completion, has been performed across the U.S. and featured in the PBS documentary “The Work of Art.”  Zhou seeks inspiration from different cultures and strives to mix them seamlessly into a musically satisfying combination for performers and audience alike. His music — described as “absolutely beautiful…utterly satisfying” (Fanfare), “stunning” (the Cincinnati Enquirer), and “a prime example of 21st-century global multiculturalism” — has been performed by leading orchestras and performers in the United States and abroad, such as the New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” Chanticleer, Jaap Van Zweden, Yuja Wang, and the Shanghai Symphony, where he is the Artist-in-Residence for the 2019/20 season

 

On Petals of Fire:

 

Petals of Fire is a fierce and colorful rhapsody inspired by American artist Cy Twombly’s 1989 painting of the same title. Part of the work was adapted from a movement of my Concerto for Orchestra. I’ve always been interested in learning how artists mix different styles and techniques to create a unique, new look. Inspired by Twombly’s attempt to combine text and color to express himself visually (literally, words are part of his painting, much like what Chinese painters did during the Song dynasty), I, as a composer, wanted to create a fusion of musical styles, harmony, and timbre, using a large wind ensemble. In a way, everyone in the ensemble is a “petal”: together, the fire glows, disappears, and dances. Petals of Fire was commissioned by Michigan State University Wind Symphony and Director of Bands Kevin Sedatole on the occasion of the ensemble’s performance at the 2017 CBDNA National Convention.

 

Program Note by composer

 

 

Colonial Song (1918) | GEORGE PERCY GRAINGER

 

            George Percy Grainger (8 July 1882, Brighton, Victoria, Australia – 20 February 1961, White Plains, N.Y.) was an Australian-born composer, pianist and champion of the saxophone and the concert band, who worked under the stage name of Percy Aldridge Grainger. 

Grainger was an innovative musician who anticipated many forms of twentieth century music well before they became established by other composers. As early as 1899 he was working with "beatless music", using metric successions (including such sequences as 2/4, 2½/4, 3/4, 2½/4).

In December 1929, Grainger developed a style of orchestration that he called "Elastic Scoring". He outlined this concept in an essay that he called, "To Conductors, and those forming, or in charge of, Amateur Orchestras, High School, College and Music School Orchestras and Chamber-Music Bodies".

In 1932, he became Dean of Music at New York University, and underscored his reputation as an experimenter by putting jazz on the syllabus and inviting Duke Ellington as a guest lecturer. Twice he was offered honorary Doctor of Music, but turned them down, explaining, "I feel that my music must be regarded as a product of non-education."

 

On Colonial Song:

 

            Percy Grainger’s art is inextricably linked to folk music. Grainger’s settings of British, Danish, and American folk music are the finest of their kind, prompting no less a figure than  Benjamin Britten  to declare that Grainger was his ‘master’ in the art of setting folk music. Among those works written in conscious imitation of folk-style, Colonial Song is perhaps the finest of any of his original works. The musical material of Colonial Song dates from 1905. The work is dedicated to Grainger’s mother, and Grainger describes, 

“No traditional tunes of any kind are made use of in this piece, in which I have wished to express feelings aroused by thoughts of the scenery and people of my native land, Australia, and to voice a certain kind of emotion that seems to me not untypical of native-born Colonials in general. Perhaps it is not unnatural that people living lonelily in vast virgin countries and struggling against natural and climatic hardships (rather than against the more actively and dramatically exciting counter wills of the fellow men, as in more thickly populated lands) should run largely to that patiently yearning, inactive sentimental wistfulness that we find so touchingly expressed in much American art. I have also noticed curious almost Italian-like musical tendencies in brass band performances and ways of singing in Australia (such as a preference for richness and intensity of tone and soulful breadth of phrasing over more subtly and sensitively varied delicacies of expression), which are also reflected here.”

 

- Program Notes by Jennifer Daffinee for the 2016 Texas All-State Symphonic Band concert program, 13 February 2016

 

Variants On a Medieval Tune (1963) | NORMAN DELLO JOIO

 

            Norman Dello Joio (born Nicodemo DeGioio 24 January 1913, New York City - 24 July 2008, East Hampton, N.Y.) was an American composer. Dello Joio was born to Italian immigrants and began his musical career as organist and choir director at the Star of the Sea Church on City Island in New York at age 14. His father was an organist, pianist, and vocal coach and coached many opera stars from the Metropolitan Opera. He taught Norman piano starting at the age of four. In his teens, Norman began studying organ with his godfather, Pietro Yon, who was the organist at Saint Patrick's Cathedral. In 1939, he received a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied composition with Bernard Wagenaar.

As a graduate student at Juilliard he arrived at the conclusion that he did not want to spend his life in a church choir loft, and composition began to become his primary musical interest. In 1941, he began studies with Paul Hindemith, the man who profoundly influenced his compositional style. It was Hindemith who told Dello Joio, "Your music is lyrical by nature, don’t ever forget that." Dello Joio states that, although he did not completely understand at the time, he now knows what he meant: "Don’t sacrifice necessarily to a system; go to yourself, what you hear. If it’s valid, and it’s good, put it down in your mind. Don’t say I have to do this because the system tells me to. No, that’s a mistake."

A prolific composer, the partial list of Dello Joio’s compositions include over forty-five choral works, close to thirty works for orchestra and ten for band, approximately twenty-five pieces for solo voice, twenty chamber works, concertos for piano, flute, harp, a concertante for clarinet, and a concertino for harmonica. He has also written several pedagogical pieces for both two and four hands. 

Dello Joio taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Mannes College of Music, and was Professor of Music and Dean of the Fine and Applied Arts School of Boston University. From 1959 until 1973, he directed the Ford Foundation’s Contemporary Music Project, which placed young composers in high schools who were salaried to compose music for school ensembles and programs. The project placed about ninety composers, many who successfully continued their careers.

On Variants on a Medieval Tune:

 

            The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation commissioned Dello Joio’s first wind band piece, Variants on a Medieval Tune. Written for the Duke University Wind Ensemble and Paul Bryan, its conductor, the work received its premiere performance on 10 April 1963. The medieval tune is In dulci jubilo, an early 14th century work attributed to Heinrich Seuse, a German mystic who, according to legend, heard angels singing this tune and joined them in a dance of worship. Norman Dello Joio’s set of variations begins with a brief introduction, the theme, and then five variants contrasting in tempo and character. These metamorphoses utilize the sonic possibilities of the wind band to the highest degree.

- Program Note by Potsdam University Crane School of Music

 

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (1705) | JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH

 

            Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. Bach enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg concerti, the Mass in B minor, The Well-Tempered Clavier, two Passions, keyboard works, and more than 300 cantatas, of which nearly 100 cantatas have been lost to posterity. His music is revered for its intellectual depth, technical command, and artistic beauty. Bach was born in Eisenach, Saxe-Eisenach, into a great musical family; his father, Johann Ambrosius Bach, was the director of the town musicians, and all his uncles were professional musicians. His father probably taught him to play violin and harpsichord, and his brother, Johann Christoph Bach, taught him the clavichord and exposed him to much contemporary music. Apparently at his own initiative, Bach attended St Michael's School in Lüneburg for two years. After graduating, he held several musical posts across Germany: he served as Kapellmeister (director of music) to Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen, Cantor of the Thomasschule in Leipzig, and Royal Court Composer to August III. Bach's health and vision declined in 1749, and he died on 28 July 1750. Modern historians believe that his death was caused by a combination of stroke and pneumonia. Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected throughout Europe during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest and performances of his music in the first half of the nineteenth century. He is now generally regarded as one of the main composers of the Baroque period, and as one of the greatest composers of all time.

 

On Toccata and Fugue in D Minor:

 

The many great organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach have been transcribed for countless instrumental ensembles in the two and a half centuries since his death. The legendary conductor Leopold Stokowski brought this practice to perhaps its zenith with his many powerful adaptations of Bach’s keyboard work for full symphony orchestra. The most famous of these is his transcription of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, which was featured in the classic 1940 Disney film Fantasia and has since become ubiquitous in both the classical repertoire and in many different streams of popular culture worldwide. 

Many people will be familiar with this work’s three dramatic opening flourishes followed by the low, growling pedal note underneath a huge, fortissimo rolling chord. The Toccata is rhapsodic, like an improvisation, a feature which is relatively unusual for an organ work of its time. It has been suggested that Bach’s celebrated piece was not originally written for the organ, nor even in D minor. It might have been written for violin or harpsichord, and some scholars believe it to be too crude a piece to have been written by Bach at all. The earliest score, a copy made by Bach’s student Johann Ringk (1717-1778), contains many uncharacteristic dynamics and markings. Unfortunately, no original manuscript survives. 

According to arranger Donald Hunsberger: 

“The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor contains virtuosic writing combined with a recitative style. Within the Toccata itself there resides a freedom of tempo and technical display that is in great contrast to the formation of the various fugal statements and answers. The third part of the Toccata serves as a coda-like statement containing a recitative and various changes of texture and tempo, finally arriving at a molto adagio that closes the section to create a grand A-B-A form for the work. The Fugue draws its theme from the downward motion of the opening Toccata melodic line. It proceeds through numerous variations until finally arriving back at the free toccata-fantasia style.”

In scoring the work for winds, Hunsberger chose an instrumentation that uses the ensemble’s complete range, from the vibrant bass color of the contrabassoon and contrabass clarinet to the shimmer of the piccolo and piccolo trumpet. This brilliant orchestration fully exploits the technical potential of the wind ensemble while effectively imitating the timbre, registration, and articulation of the organ. 

- Program Note from Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble concert program, 9 June 2019

David O. Thorsen Tribute Concert • October 22, 2022

 

Program Notes/ Texts and Translations

 

Jubilate Deo omnis terra
Giovanni Gabrieli (c.1554/1557-1612)

 

Giovanni Gabrieli was an Italian composer and teacher who has been celebrated for his sacred music, including massive choral and instrumental motets. He was also a principal organist at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, an institution with a long tradition of musical excellence. Gabrieli’s work in Venice made him one of the most notable composers in Europe. Jubilate Deo omnis terra is from his ‘Symphoniae Sacrae’ from 1597, his most important published collection of Venetian polyphony. The book contains choral motets in concertato style. This style often featured two or more choirs of voices and instruments performing together in an alternating dialogue. St. Mark’s Basilica’s grand acoustic and architecture most certainly influenced the distinctive sound and style of his music. The Basilica had four opposing choir areas, allowing the composer to fully embrace its acoustic effects. Gabrieli composed colorful music in a variety of styles and represented the grand artistic spirit of Venice in the 16th century.

 

Latin Text

Jubilate Deo omnis terra,
quia sic benedicetur homo qui timet Dominum.
Deus Israel conjungat vos
et ipse sit vobiscum,
mittat vobis auxilium de sancto
et de Sion tueatur vos.
Benedicat vobis Dominus ex Sion,
qui fecit caelum et terram.
Servite Domino in laetitia!

Translation

Let every land praise God,
as the man who fears the Lord is blessed.
May the God of Israel bind you together and himself be with you,
may he send you help from his holiness
and watch over you from Sion.
The Lord blessed you out of Sion,
he who made heaven and earth.
Serve the Lord with joy!

 

Gloria                                                                        
Stephen Chatman (b. 1950)

 

Canadian composer Stephen Chatman is an internationally renowned choral and orchestral composer, with over one hundred published choral works.  Currently Chatman is the Professor of Composition at the University of British Columbia School of Music.  His pieces are regularly performed throughout North America today, including his “Gloria” written for unaccompanied double choir. The Jubilate Chamber Choir and director Jocelyn Prtichard originally commissioned “Gloria.” This piece features a standard ABA structure, but is layered with dance-like rhythms, and an exclamatory style of text declamation.  The choirs frequently echo one another akin to concerti groupings. This feature is especially notable in the B section on the text “et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis” or in English “and peace on earth to men of good will.”  The music feels joyous, light, and uplifting.

 

Latin Text

Gloria, Gloria
In excelsis Deo.
Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Laudamus te.
Benedicimus te.
Adoramus te.
Glorificamus te.

Translation

Glory, Glory 
Be to God on high
And in earth peace goodwill towards men.
We praise thee
We bless thee.
We worship thee.
We glorify thee. 

 

Abendlied, Op. 92, No 3
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

 

German composer Johannes Brahms is regarded as one of the greatest musicians and composers to have lived.  Brahms spent much of his lifetime in Vienna during the mid-romantic era. His music reflects the great innovations that were being made during this time as well as the musical foundations of previous generations of composers. Brahms married classical structures and techniques with innovative harmonic textures and music of the Romantic Era. His music was emotive, but still organized.  Brahms’ “Abendlied” is a prime example of his compositional voice. “Abendlied” is one of four songs written for piano and chorus.  The piano is featured throughout with a surprisingly chromatic walking bass playing in octaves, while the right hand fills in surprising harmonic progressions.  Brahms, a pianist himself, often composed incredible piano parts in his works for chorus. Our wonderful collaborative pianist, Professor Mark Salters will be featured on today’s performance.

 

German Text

Friedlich bekämpfen Nacht sich und Tag;
wie das zu dämpfen, wie das zu lösen vermag.
Der mich bedrückte, schläfst du schon, Schmerz?
Was mich beglückte, was war's doch, mein Herz?
Freude wie Kummer, fühl ich, zerran,
aber den Schlummer führten sie leise heran.
Und im Entschweben, immer empor,
kommt mir das Leben ganz wie ein Schlummerlied vor.

Translation

Night and day are engaged in peaceful struggle
as if they are able to dampen or to dissolve.
Are you asleep, Grief, who depressed me?
What was it then, my heart, that made me happy?
Both joy and sorrow, I feel, did melt away
but gently they introduced the slumber.
And, while evermore floating upward,
life itself appears to me like a lullaby.

 

Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal
Arr. Alice Parker (b. 1925)

 

American composer Alice Parker has composed music for decades, including five operas, eleven song-cycles, thirty-three cantatas, eleven works for chorus and orchestra, forty-seven choral suites, and more than forty hymns.  Her work arranging American folk tunes, often partnered with Robert Shaw, has become some of her best known contributions to the repertoire. “Hark, I hear the Harps Eternal” is a staple of the choral repertory; choirs across the nation still perform this triumphant piece.  The modal Appalachian harmony lends a distinctly American sound to this arrangement, and the pulsing rhythms of subtle polyphony  infuses energy and a joyful spirit to the music.

 

Text

Hark, I hear the harps eternal
Ringing on the farther shore,
As I near those swollen waters
With their deep and solemn roar.

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Hallelujah, praise the lamb!
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Glory to the great I AM!

And my soul, tho’ stain’d with sorrow,
Fading as the light of day,
Passes swiftly o’er those waters,
To the city far away.

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Hallelujah, praise the lamb!
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Glory to the great I AM!

Souls have cross’d before me, saintly,
To that land of perfect rest;
And I hear them singing faintly
In the mansions of the blest.

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Hallelujah, praise the lamb!
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Glory to the great I AM!

 

To the Mothers in Brazil: Salve Regina   
Lars Jansson (b.1951) Arr. Gunnar Eriksson (b. 1936)

 

Swedish jazz musician and composer, Lars Jansson originally composed “To the Mothers in Brazil: Salve Regina” as an instrumental piece. It was later arranged by fellow Swedish conductor Gunnar Eriksson for choir and percussion. Eriksson dedicated his arrangement to Eric Westberg’s Vocal Ensemble, who premiered the work in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 7, 1995.  Throughout the work, cries of “mama” and “Mater Maria” represent the sound of mothers, brothers, and fathers crying out for their mothers as children that were often faced with the crushing solitude of loneliness, loss during war, and/or unnecessary killings.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, represents the loving, mothering qualities that comfort them and bring hope.  While the overall emotion of the piece feels strong, severe, and dark, the composer includes the soft cries of “mama” and “alleluia” to bring a feeling of peace and hope as the music fades softly away.

 

Latin Text

Salve Regina Mater misericordiae
Ad te clamamus exules filii hevae
Regina coeli laetare, alleluia
O Clemens, O pia O dulcis virgo Maria
Et Jesum benedictum fructum ventris tui

Translation

Hail holy Queen, Mother of mercy
To thee we do cry, poor banished children of Eve.
Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
And Jesus the blessed fruit of thy womb.

 

Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair                                  
René Clausen (b. 1953)

 

American conductor and composer René Clausen has become known for his settings of American folk music.  His compositions are widely performed across the United States by school and professional choirs alike. “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” is an American folk song that has a melancholy, wistful aire.  Clausen says about the piece, “the minor key and sweeping, moody melodic lines viscerally portray the depth of emotion felt by the young man for his love.” This is well reflected during the tenor and bass soli section in the middle of the piece where they sing “I love the grass on where she goes. If she on earth no more I see, my life would quickly fade away.” The music has a sweeping phrase structure that represents the sadness in the singers’ voices.

 

Black is the color of my true love’s hair,
Her lips are something rosy fair.
The prettiest face and the daintiest hands,
I love the grass whereon she stands.

I love my love, and well she knows,
I love the grass whereon she goes.
If she on earth no more I see,
My life will quickly heed ye.

I’ll go to troublesome to mourn, to weep,
But satisfied, I ne’er shall sleep.
I’ll write her a note in a few little lines,
And suffer death ten thousand times.

Black is the color of my true love’s hair,
Her lips are something rosy fair.
The prettiest face and the daintiest hands,
I love the grass whereon she stands.

 

 

Lead With Love
Melanie DeMore (b. TKTK)

 

American composer Melanie DeMore has made her career in preserving African American Folk Tradition through songs and Gullah stick pounding.  Her work has played an important role in making African American music more accessible to modern musicians in the United States and around the world.  DeMore writes that “Lead With Love” was written in answer to a call for connection in troubled times.  It is about persistence, community, and moving ahead.”  The music features a typical call and response structure between the soloist and the choir.  The swung rhythm adds energy to the musical line. DeMore also encourages the audience to sing along with the chorus, so we hope you will join your voices with us!

 

Text

You gotta put one foot in front of the other and lead with love,
Put one foot in front of the other and lead with love!

Don’t give up hope, You’re not alone,
Don’t you give up, keep movin’ on.

Lift up your eyes and don’t you despair
Look up ahead, the path is there.

I know you’re scared, and I’m scared, too
But here I am, right next to you!

 

Amabile, Alleluia
Sarah Quartel (b.1982)

 

Sarah Quartel is a Canadian composer and educator known for her energetic and exciting compositional style. Her works typically embrace sweeping and charming melodies supported by a fresh harmonic language. Deeply inspired by the life-changing relationships that can occur while making choral music, Quartel writes in a way that connects singer to singer, ensemble to conductor, and performer to audience. “Amabile, Alleluia” was written for the 2020 Amabile Festival in London, Canada, in celebration of the organization’s 35th anniversary. The original scoring was for a children's choir alongside SATB voices but it can also be performed by an SSATB choir. Quartel begins “Amabile, Alleluia” with a simple and dance-like tune that repeats throughout the piece. The surrounding voice parts beautifully decorate the melody providing rich harmonic layers as the piece builds up to a warm and enlivening finish.

 

Super Flumina Babylonis
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1524-1594) 

 

Program Note: 

Palestrina was a master of Renaissance counterpoint polyphony that satisfied the Tridentine  decree that all text in church services be clearly understood by the congregation. In this famous passage from Psalm 137 the exiled Jews deeply yearn to leave the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers in Babylon and return to  their homeland. The text is a succinct expression of Jewish self-identity under the conquest and the shame of subjugation. Palestrina clearly expresses the text with an effortless organic quality as he relegates discordant intervals to the weak beats while crafting achingly beautiful arched vocal lines. It is little wonder why Palestrina earned the praise of his peers, and his style is still studied in composition.  

 

Psalm 137 vs 1-2 

Latin Text 

Super flumina Babylonis  
illic sedimus et flevimus dum  
recordaremur tui Sion:  
in salicibus in medio eius suspendimus  
organa nostra.

Translation 

By the waters of Babylon  
we sat down and wept when we 
remembered thee, O Sion.  
We hung up our harps  
amidst the willow trees.

 

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
arr. Cedric Dent (b.1962)

 

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands is an anonymously composed African-American spiritual that rose out of oral tradition, and was first published in the hymnal “Spirituals Triumphant, Old and New” in 1927. The song has become widely known and loved. It serves as a reminder that God loves all of creation, and invites the listener to take comfort in his presence. The arranger, Dr Cedric Carl Dent is a professor at Middle Tennessee State University where he directs the vocal jazz ensemble, MTSU Singers. For 25 years, he was a vocalist, music arranger, and co-producer of the Grammy Award winning a cappella group, Take 6. Inspired by the Tyler Perry challenge on social media in 2020, Dent crafted He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands for the Jason Max Ferdinand Singers. This masterful arrangement encompasses a touch of modern gospel-jazz style and texture while keeping traditional choral music and the true spirit of South African influences in the Zulu text at the conclusion.

 

Text

He's got the whole world in His hands.
He’s got you and me, brother, in His hands
He’s got you and me, sister, in His hands
He’s got the itty bitty babies in His hands.
Uphethe bonk'a bantu Ezandle' Uphe thum hlab' Ezandleni.
(He's got the whole world in His hands)
He's got the whole world in His hands.

 

Lobet den Herrn, allé Heiden 
Johann Sebastian Bach BMV 230 (1685-1750) 

 

Program Note:  

Johann Sebastian Bach composed his vocally virtuosic motets to celebrate important occasions or mark significant losses in the communities in which he worked. Scholars are unsure how many motets Bach actually composed in his lifetime. Most ascribe at least six motets to his hand, although recent scholarship has questioned the authenticity of beloved motet “Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden.'' The doubts relate to significant stylistic differences from Bach’s typical compositional style and the dubious authentication of its origins. Scholars can find no known commission for the piece, and its earliest source is a score published by Breitkopf und Härtel in 1821 that only bears the autograph “Signor Bach.” Stylistically the work has an  uncharacteristically independent continuo line and lacks the most Bachian compositional style, a chorale. These questions of authorship do not negate the motet as a wonder of  baroque writing. The work is a double fugue with the initial subject beginning with a chain of  thirds that is cheery on the text “Lobet den Herrn.” The initial material gives way to the second theme with flowing lines that turn and twist on the text “und preiset ihn.” A quiet, homophonic section follows which affirms God’s grace and guidance on the text “Gnade und Wahrheit” (“mercy and truth”). This gorgeous and harmonically surprising passage segues into a jubilant, virtuosic setting of the word “Alleluia” as a dance-like fugato which concludes the work.  

 

Psalm 117: 1-2
German Text 

Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden,  
und preiset ihn, alle Völker!  
Denn seine Gnade und Wahrheit  
waltet über uns in Ewigkeit.  
Alleluja. 

 

Translation 

Praise the Lord, all you heathens,  
and praise him all you people!  
For his mercy and truth  
reign over us in eternity.  
Alleluia. 

 

​​Tuttarana
Reese Esmail (b.1983)

 

Indian-American composer Reena Esmail invites the audiences to the world of classical Indian music by utilizing advanced Western compositional techniques, and she strives to bring communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces. Tuttarana was commissioned by the Mount Holyoke College Glee Club for their 2014-15 season and has since been performed across the US. The title of this piece is a combination of two words, ‘tutti’ and ‘tarana’: the Italian word, ‘tutti’ means ‘all’ or ‘everyone’, and ‘tarana’ is a type of composition in Hindustani (North Indian) classical vocal music, which is close to the ‘scat’ in American jazz. While ‘tarana’ is usually a solo form, Esmail has brought the idea and sound of the tarana into an ensemble setting through this piece. The text of this piece is composed of onomatopoeic syllables based in the Hindi language. Even though it has no specific words, the piece challenges singers with its agile rhythm and detailed musical articulation.

 

Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen (Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op.45)
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

 

The initial inspiration of the Brahms’ German Requiem may have been the death of his friend and mentor, Robert Schumann in 1856, who greatly contributed to the huge success of Brahms’ music. However, most of the Requiem was written in 1866, a year after his mother’s death. As one might imagine, Brahms’ Requiem is a deeply personal musical memorial, and unlike any other Requiem setting. His piece intends to console those in grief rather than offering supplication for the beatification and repose of the deceased. In this distinctive work, not only did Brahms use innovative combinations of musical styles, but also set a vernacular German text of his own assembly. This approach was very different from other conventional settings of the Latin mass for the dead. Brahms was raised as a Lutheran and wrote his own non-liturgical libretto based on Martin Luther’s German translation of the Bible. For this reason, his Requiem is entitled ‘Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem).’ Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen (How lovely are your dwelling) is movement 4, and it consists of three verses from Psalm 84. The text focuses on the blessing of eternal life, and offers a more optimistic view of heaven’s peace. 

 

German Text

Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen,
Herr Zebaoth!
Meine seele verlanget und sehnet sich
nach den Vorhöfen des Herrn;
mein Leib und Seele freuen sich
in dem lebendigen Gott.
Wohl denen, die in deinem Hause wohnen,
die loben dich immerdar.

 

Translation

How lovely are thy dwelling places,
O Lord of Hosts!
My soul requires and yearns for
the courts of the Lord;
My body and soul rejoice
in the living God.
Blessed are they that dwell in thy house;
they praise you forever

 

Go, Lovely Rose
Halsey Stevens (1908-1989) 

 

Program Note: 

Halsey Stevens (1908-1989) was a composer, conductor, scholar and longtime head of the  composition department at the USC Thornton School of Music. Stevens was a significant contributor to his field. He became an internationally recognized expert on the composer Bela Bartok, taught  notable American composer, Morten Lauridsen, as well as composed more than 150 works that were performed in his lifetime. His setting of Edmund Waller’s poem “Go, Lovely Rose” is lush with harmonic intrigue and homophonic writing making the text and meaning clear. In the poem, the speaker uses the beauty of a rose to entreat a woman’s affections. Waller reminds the reader that time is fleeting. One must take advantage of the beauty of youth and passion while time abates. Fate, youth, and the rose’s blossom share similar lifespans and should be enjoyed while they are still “wondrous, sweet and fair.”

 

Text by Edmund Waller (1606-1687)  

Go, lovely rose! 
Tell her that wastes her time and me, 
That now she knows, 
When I resemble her to thee, 
How sweet and fair she seems to be. 
Tell her that’s young,
And shuns to have her graces spied, 
That hadst thou sprung 
In deserts, where no men abide, 
Thou must have uncommended died. 
Small is the worth 
Of beauty from the light retired; 
Bid her come forth, 
Suffer herself to be desired, 
And not blush so to be admired. 
Then die! that she 
The common fate of all things rare 
May read in thee; 
How small a part of time they share 
That are so wondrous sweet and fair!

 

Communio: “Lux Aeterna”, “Cum Sanctis” from Requiem 
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  (1756-1791) 

 

Program Note: 

Mozart’s Requiem is one of the most famous and beloved treasures of European music. The piece was left unfinished at the composer’s death in 1791, and Mozart’s widow Constanze asked one of Mozart’s students, Franz Xaver Süssmayr, to complete the work on his behalf. Süssmayr agreed and finished the work based on sketches and ideas that Mozart had shared with him. The communio is the last section of the mass and quotes the opening material from the first movement Requiem aeternam almost verbatim. Süssmayr manipulated the text “cum sanctis tuis in aeternam” (with Thy saints forever) to accommodate the same fugue Mozart composed to set the Kyrie. Süssmayr’s compositional gesture here is admired as meaningful because he granted Mozart the last musical word.

 

Latin Text 

Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine, 
cum sanctis mis in aeternum, quia pius es. 
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis, 
cum sanctis tuis in aeternum, 
quia plus es. 

Translation 

May eternal light shine on them, O Lord. 
with Thy saints forever, because Thou art merciful. 
Grant the dead eternal rest, O Lord, 
and may perpetual light shine on them, 
with Thy saints forever, 
because Thou are merciful. 

University Symphony Orchestra • Sunday, November 13, 2022

 

Egmont Overture, op. 84 | LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

Beethoven was fascinated with the concept of individual freedom. His life was spent struggling to compose what he wanted, when he wanted, despite the dictates of demanding patrons.  His music itself is a testament to creative freedom. Born in a time when strictly formal outlines were the musical norm, Beethoven found unique, innovative ways to escape these constraints. As a body of music, his works expanded form and harmony and instrumentation, continuously broadening the scope of his very personal musical expression.

When a commission to provide a music score for Goethe’s Egmont was offered in 1809 for the first Viennese performance of the play, Beethoven eagerly snatched up the opportunity. An admirer of Goethe’s writings, he was particularly drawn by Egmont’s subject: the struggle for freedom.  Goethe’s play depicts the Spanish persecution of the people of the Netherlands during the inquisition of 1567-68.  Count Egmont, a Catholic who is loyal to the Spanish, nevertheless sees the injustice of their actions and pleads for tolerance from the Spanish King. Greatly displeased, the King sends the cruel Duke of Alva to command the Spanish forces in the Netherlands to do the King’s will. Egmont is arrested and sentenced to death. Yet he knows that rebellion is in progress, and firmly believes that soon the people will be free.   

A performance of Beethoven’s complete incidental music for Egmont, including two songs and several orchestral interludes, would take approximately 40-45 minutes. It is seldom heard today in its entirety; but the Overture is a staple in the concert hall repertoire because of its strength, nobility, and triumphal character. Still incomplete for the play’s initial performance with music in May of 1810, it was first heard at the fourth performance of the drama on June 15, 1810. 

The Overture begins in a somber and serious mood. Marked Sostenuto ma non troppo, or sustained, without hurry, the dark music of the opening conveys profound oppression of the spirit, and the opening motive clearly represents the ominous tyrant of the play.  Soon the tempo picks up, speeding into a vigorous Allegro featuring the cellos; and we hear the hero’s confidence and heroic defiance as he descends into the depths of battle. The tyrant’s motive from the introduction evolves throughout the overture, becoming increasingly rhythmic and dark until at last Egmont’s execution can be heard.  Immediately the mood of the work turns triumphant and celebratory, featuring the strings in the highest register and the shimmering sound of the piccolo.  The music embodies Egmont’s conviction that death is not an end when hope thrives and ideals remain intact.

 

English Folk Song Suite | RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS

At the turn of the twentieth century, there was a general interest in the recording and utilization of folk musics led by a number of European composers and musicologists. This list that includes such musical luminaries as Béla Bartók, Edvard Grieg, Zoltán Kodály, Percy Grainger, and Ralph Vaughan Williams, many of whom were assisted in their folk song “collection” by newly invented portable recording devices. Folk songs from the British Isles became particularly fruitful foundations for new compositions, many of which were compiled by members of the English Folk Song Society, whose members included the Vaughan Williams and Grainger, as well as collectors and composers Lucy Broadwood, Cecil Sharp, and George Butterworth, among others. The wind band has been a primary beneficiary of this English folk revival, with many masterworks composed in the first half of the twentieth century relying on these collected folk melodies.

Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Song Suite is a work in three movements that weaves nine folk songs into what Grainger would later call a “posy,” or “collection of musical wildflowers.” At first, the suite included an additional movement, Sea Songs, which was performed as the second movement, but composer removed it after the premiere at Kneller Hall (the Royal Military School of Music) and published on its own.

The first movement, March - Seventeen Come Sunday, features the eponymous folk song (which was also set by both Grainger and Holst) in British march style. The melody to Seventeen Come Sunday, telling the story of a soldier enticing a pretty maid, serves as the first theme, and is followed by the contrasting, lyrical Pretty Caroline, where a sailor returns from war to his beloved. The third strain of the march is a full, marcato arrangement of Dives and Lazarus, a retelling of the Biblical story and a favorite subject of Vaughan Williams, who also wrote a set of orchestral variations on the melody. The march then returns to Pretty Caroline before restating Seventeen Come Sunday with a final fanfare.

Next follows a slow, haunting arrangement of My Bonny Boy, a painful song of unrequited love first sung by a solo oboe, and subsequently joined by other instrumental colors. Later, a beautiful, swirling arrangement of Green Bushes, another song of unanswered passion, enters in the woodwinds, before giving way again to the original theme.

The final movement of the suite, March – Folk Songs from Somerset, includes four songs, each presented as successive, contrasting themes in march style, all taken from the titular county on the southwestern peninsula of England. It begins with a light, jaunty melody entitled Blow Away the Morning Dew, also known traditionally as The Baffled Knight, which tells the story of a soldier enticed by a fair maiden, only to be teasingly tricked at the last minute. The second folk song, perhaps providing an answer to the first, is a rousing war ballad dating from the War of the Spanish Succession entitled High Germany, where a soldier attempts to entice another fair maiden to accompany him to war on the Continent. The Trio of the march, The Tree So High, tells the story of an arranged marriage between two children, in a conversation between the unhappy daughter and her father. This is answered by the famous tune, John Barleycorn, a tale of a knight battling, in some versions, a miller or a group of drunkards, all of whom want to “chop him down,” which can be interpreted as an allegorical telling of the events in the cultivation and harvesting of barley. Finally, the march repeats da capo, repeating the first two melodies before closing with a flourish.

 

Suite No. 1 for Small Orchestra | IGOR STRAVINSKY

Suite No. 1 for Small Orchestra was orchestrated in 1921 but dates originally from Stravinsky’s Swiss period. The source material was from the two little-studied sets of piano duets Stravinsky wrote as “teaching pieces” for young musicians. Three Easy Pieces was completed in 1915 and each short movement includes an affectionate dedication to a colleague (composers Alfredo Casella and Erik Satie as well as Ballet Russes impresario Serge Diaghilev) which indicates the composer’s desire to also entertain adults with his delightful miniatures. The companion Five Easy Pieces (1917) were designed specifically for the education of Stravinsky’s two older children with simple melodies that were to be played by the youngsters and more difficult accompaniments meant for skilled hands, presumably the composer’s. It is tempting to view these duets as little more than the dashed-off curiosities of an extremely fertile musical mind, but closer scrutiny reveals much about what Stravinsky had become and would become as a composer. Beyond the obvious charm, wit and winning “personalization” of the included dance forms, what is offered here (particularly in the orchestrated versions) is a premonition of Stravinsky’s approaching Neo-Classical period. The leanness of the instrumentation, the infectious rhythmic drive, and the always perfect instinct for dramatic timing – each a hallmark of the coming years – are all present in the music of the Suites. More than mere caricatures, these “Easy Pieces” are vintage Stravinsky, and nothing less.

 

Romanian Folk Dances | BÉLA BARTÓK

The Romanian Folk Dances were originally composed as a suite of dances for solo piano in 1915. Bartók subsequently orchestrated them for small orchestra in 1917. Bartók was one of the pioneers of the field of ethnomusicology who collected field recordings of folk music performed by people who lived in small villages across Hungary and Romania. The study of this body of folk music provided Bartók with the source of inspiration which he then translated into high art music in this exquisite work.  

 

Hoe-Down (from Rodeo) | AARON COPLAND  

With choreography by Agnes de Mille Rodeo was a first-night success at the first performance on October 16, 1942, at the Metropolitan Opera House. The piece is divided into four episodes: "Buckaroo Holiday," "Corral Nocturne," Saturday Night Waltz" and "Hoe-Down."  

The music for the ballet Rodeo was written in June and orchestrated in September 1942.  The composer subsequently extracted this orchestral suite from the ballet score for concert performance in 1945. A number of American folk songs are woven into the score. These folk songs and square dance tunes provide unique rhythmic ideas and tuneful melodies which are reworked and transformed by the composer within each dance scene.

 

Symphony No. 8 in G Major, op. 88 | ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK

Though best known for his Symphony No. 9 (“from the New World”) of 1893 (his last symphony, written during his American period of 1892-95), Dvořák made very important contributions to the symphonic repertory with all his nine symphonies. The eighth symphony represents a sunny interlude between the emotionally charged seventh symphony and the epic ninth symphony. It was written while he was in his country home in the fall of 1889. During the composition of this symphony, Dvořák wrote to his friend Alois Göbl, telling him that his head was full of ideas, and remarked “if only one could write them down straight away! But there-I must go slowly, only keep pace with my hand, and may God give the rest…It’s going unexpectedly easily, and melodies simply pour out of me.” In every case the melodies Dvořák used are completely original but are imbued with the vivacious spirit of Czech folk music.

CSUF Symphonic Winds: "Storytelling" • Saturday, November 18, 2022

 

Houseplants in Terracotta Pots (2014) | ROY MAGNUSON

 

Roy David Magnuson (b. 17 January 1983, Smithtown, N.Y.) is an American composer and teacher. Dr. Magnuson received his B.M. Theory/Composition from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois, his M.M. Composition from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, and his D.M.A from the University of Illinois. Private studies include Don Davis, David Maslanka, George Tsontakis, Jennifer Higdon, Steven Stucky, Karel Husa and Joan Tower.

Magnuson has composed music for orchestra, wind ensemble, concert band, chamber ensembles, vocalists, electroacoustic ensembles and films. His works have been performed throughout the United States at venues such as the Red Note Music Festival, the New Music Cafe, Illinois State University, Ithaca College, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, University of Texas-Arlington, University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa, and by the Elan String Quartet, the Quasari Quartet, the Quad City Wind Ensemble and the Air Force Band of Mid-America.

Due to the success of his wind writing, in 2008 Magnuson was asked to contribute a chapter to the GIA Publication Composers on Composing for Band, Volume IVwhich is currently available via GIA Publications.

Magnuson is currently an Instructional Assistant Faculty member at Illinois State University where he teaches freshman and sophomore theory and coordinates the freshman theory curriculum. He is a member of ASCAP and his music is recorded on Albany Records

 

On Houseplants in Terracotta Pots:

 

            “The plants we fill our houses with are beautiful in their simplicity, and simply beautiful in their complexity. This music comes from my sincere desire to create art that, like house plants, does a thing and does it well. A simple statement of something simply thought” 

- Program Notes by composer

 

  Only Light (2009) | AARON PERRINE

 

Aaron Perrine (pronounced per-EEN) (b. 1979, McGregor, Minnesota) is an American composer.   Dr. Perrine earned his Bachelor's Degree in trombone performance and music education with high distinction from the University of Minnesota, Morris, in 2002. While an undergraduate, he received the Edna Murphy Morrison Award, Daisy Hansen Award, Chancellor's Award, and multiple awards in composition from the Minnesota Music Educators Association.

After his time in Morris, Dr. Perrine moved to Minneapolis and began working on his Master's Degree. While at the University of Minnesota, Aaron studied composition with Judith Zaimont and jazz arranging with Dean Sorenson. He completed his Master's degree in 2006, and his Ph.D. in composition from the University of Iowa, studying with David Gompper and Lawrence Fritts. He is assistant professor of music at Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

Dr. Perrine has been commissioned and recorded by various colleges, high schools and middle schools across the country. One of his compositions,   April,   was a finalist in the first Frank Ticheli Composition Contest. This piece was also a J.W. Pepper "Editors' Choice" and was a featured composition in   Teaching Music Through Performance in Band,   Volume 7. Both his 2011 composition   Pale Blue on Deep   and his 2014 composition   Only Light   were awarded the prestigious ABA Sousa/Ostwald Prize.

 

On Only Light:

 

The melodic material for Only Light originally came from Beneath a Canvas of Green, a recently composed large-scale work of mine written for wind ensemble. At the time, I was not quite comfortable with how this music fit within the larger work (it passed by much too quickly), and I knew it was something I would eventually like to revisit.

In the fall of 2012, one of my best friend’s mother lost her battle with cancer. A year later, while thinking of ideas for what was eventually to be Only Light, I found myself thinking of him and his family quite often. At about this same time, I was on social media late one night -- procrastinating rather than composing -- and discovered a post written by another friend, written in reference to his wife. Here is an excerpt:

A timeline. Oh, the dark places I've dwelt this morning. The "hows," "what ifs," and "whys" pouring over me. But, I digress. There is no timeline at this time. There is only, "we aren't done with you yet." There is, "we've got more things to try." There is, in a word, hope. I need me some of that. Toni has pointed out that there are times that I can find the dark cloud behind any silver lining. (Had you only known me before I met you, young lady. Now that Tim could really find darkness where there was only light.) The medical team is set to battle on.

In an instant, I was reminded of how delicate life is and how things can change at a moment’s notice. Reflecting upon these events inspired me to expand upon and ultimately finish this previously composed music. Only Light is meant to convey a sense of hope and healing.

- Program Note by composer

 

I Dream Awake – Concerto for Alto Saxophone & Wind Ensemble (2022) | GIOVANNI SANTOS

 

            Giovanni Santos (b. 27 September 1980, Puerto Rico) is an Hispanic American composer and educator. Professor Santos is the son of a Cuban father and a Dominican mother. He was raised in Puerto Rico before moving to San Diego, Calif. He is a graduate of La Sierra University (B. Mus) and earned his MM in music education from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, where he was also a scholarship trumpet student. Santos had the privilege of studying trumpet with Richard Hofmann, Boyde Hood, and Donald Green. He completed his Ph.D. in music education with an emphasis in instrumental conducting from Florida State University in 2022. Dr. Santos serves as assistant professor of music and director of wind and percussion studies at La Sierra University, Riverside, Calif., where he directs the university wind ensemble, chamber winds, big band, and teaches courses in instrumental music education, popular music, and conducting. For seven years, Professor Santos had the privilege of leading the band department at Loma Linda Academy, where he led their wind symphony in performances across the United States and Europe. Santos has conducted successful performances across the United States and Europe. Mostly recently, Santos led performances at Carnegie Hall, the Disney Concert Hall, and the Kennedy Center of the Arts (with the U.S. Naval Academy Band Brass Ensemble).

As a composer, Santos has premiered his works across the United States, Asia and Europe, including a premiere with the United States Naval Academy Band Brass Ensemble at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. under his baton. His works have received performances by ensembles at the University of Michigan, University of Illinois, Florida State University, University of Florida, Ball State University, Oklahoma State University, UCLA, Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble, Illinois State University among others. His music has also been performed for music education conferences across the United States, the Villa-Lobos Music Festival and for the Tanglewood Music Festival in 2022. 

A strong advocate for music education, Santos frequently presents at conferences, school in-service days, classrooms, and as clinician for young ensembles across the U.S. Most recently, Prof. Santos presented at the California All-State Music Education Conference, for the California Music Educators Association’s ‘Casting a Wider in Net' at Azusa Pacific University, the North American Division National Teachers Convention, the Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago, and for the 2019 SCSBOA Professional Development Conference, and for the College Band Directors National Association National Conference at Arizona State University. Santos has proudly implemented a yearly wind band conducting workshop at La Sierra University. He has been published by the International Trumpet Guild Journal on two occasions

 

Fortress (1988)   | FRANK TICHELI

 

            Frank Ticheli (b. 21 January 1958, Monroe, La.) is an American composer and conductor.  Ticheli joined the faculty of the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music in 1991, where he is Professor of Composition. From 1991 to 1998, Ticheli was Composer in Residence of the Pacific Symphony, and he still enjoys a close working relationship with that orchestra and their music director, Carl St. Clair.

Ticheli is well known for his works for concert band, many of which have become standards in the repertoire. In addition to composing, he has appeared as guest conductor of his music at Carnegie Hall, at many American universities and music festivals, and in cities throughout the world, including Schladming, Austria, at the Mid-Europe Music Festival; London and Manchester, England, with the Meadows Wind Ensemble; Singapore, with the Singapore Armed Forces Central Band; and numerous cities in Japan, with the Bands of America National Honor Band.

Frank Ticheli is the winner of the 2006 NBA/William D. Revelli Memorial Band Composition Contest for his  Symphony No. 2 . Other awards for his music include the Charles Ives and the Goddard Lieberson Awards, both from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Walter Beeler Memorial Prize, and First Prize awards in the Texas Sesquicentennial Orchestral Composition Competition, Britten-on-the-Bay Choral Composition Contest, and Virginia CBDNA Symposium for New Band Music.

Dr. Ticheli received his doctoral and masters degrees in composition from The University of Michigan. His works are published by Manhattan Beach, Southern, Hinshaw, and Encore Music, and are recorded on the labels of Albany, Chandos, Clarion, Klavier, Koch International, and Mark Records.

 

On Fortress:

 

            Fortress was composed in 1988 and received its premiere performance in Iron County, Michigan, by the Batawagana Youth Camp Band. Ticheli wrote the piece while serving on the faculty of Trinity College in San Antonio, Texas, making Fortress one of his earlier compositions for the wind band. The piece is based upon short motive ideas, which Ticheli develops, layers, and sets in imitative textures throughout the piece. Each work can be traced back to the interval of a tritone, an important trend throughout the work.

 

- Program Note from University of British Columbia Concert Winds concert program, 2 April 2016

 

The Rising Tide (2015) | NARONG PRANGCHAROEN

 

            Narong Prangcharoen (b. 1973, Thailand) is a Thai-born American composer. His early training was under Dr. N. Dharmabuthra in Thailand, and then later he studied under Doctors Steve Tyler and David Feurzeig at Illinois State University. Dr. Prangcharoen received his DMA from University of Missouri-Kansas City, where his primary teacher was Chen Yi. His success as a composer was confirmed by his receiving the prestigious 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship and the Barlow Prize. Other awards include the Music Alive, the 20th Annual American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Commission, and the Annapolis Charter 300 International Composers Competition Prize. In his native country, Dr. Prangcharoen was recipient of the Silapathorn Award, naming him a “Thailand Contemporary National Artist.” Dr. Prangcharoen has, thus, established an international reputation and is recognized as one of Asia’s leading composers. 

Dr. Prangcharoen’s music has been performed in Asia, America, Australia, and Europe by many renowned ensembles such as the American Composers Orchestra, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra In addition to working as a freelance composer, he is currently teaching at the Community Music and Dance Academy of the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri in Kansas City. He is the founder of the Thailand International Composition Festival, now entering its tenth year. Prangcharoen is now a composer in residence for the Pacific Symphony in Orange County, California, for the next three seasons.

 

Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (1923) | JOHN PHILIP SOUSA

 

            John Philip Sousa (6 November 1854, Washington, D.C. – 6 March 1932, Reading, Pennsylvania) was America's best-known composer and conductor during his lifetime. Sousa was born the third of 10 children of John Antonio Sousa (born in Spain of Portuguese parents) and Maria Elisabeth Trinkhaus (born in Bavaria). John Philip's father, Antonio, played trombone in the U.S. Marine band, so young John grew up around military band music. Sousa started his music education, playing the violin, as a pupil of John Esputa and G. F. Benkert for harmony and musical composition at the age of six. He was found to have absolute pitch. When Sousa reached the age of 13, his father, a trombonist in the Marine Band, enlisted his son in the United States Marine Corps as an apprentice. Sousa served his apprenticeship for seven years, until 1875, and apparently learned to play all the wind instruments while also continuing with the violin.

Several years later, Sousa left his apprenticeship to join a theatrical (pit) orchestra where he learned to conduct. He returned to the U.S. Marine Band as its head in 1880 and remained as its conductor until 1892. He organized his own band the year he left the Marine Band. The Sousa Band toured 1892-1931, performing 15,623 concerts. In 1900, his band represented the United States at the Paris Exposition before touring Europe. In Paris, the Sousa Band marched through the streets including the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe – one of only eight parades the band marched in over its forty years.

Sousa wrote 136 marches. He also wrote school songs for several American Universities, including Kansas State University, Marquette University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Minnesota. Sousa died at the age of 77 on March 6th, 1932 after conducting a rehearsal of the Ringgold Band in Reading, Pennsylvania. The last piece he conducted was The Stars and Stripes Forever.

 

On Nobles of the Mystic Shrine:

 

            Published in 1923, this concert-oriented march celebrates Sousa’s membership in the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners). His local chapter hosted the national convention in 1923 in Washington, D.C., and Sousa conducted a band of 6,200 members in Griffith Stadium, the largest group he ever conducted. Contemporary versions of the Janissary Band (Turkish royal bodyguards) are a vital part of colorful Shrine marching units, and this march was intended to recreate the musical style of this Turkish music. The “jingling johnny” or Turkish crescent (a marching instrument with a pole hung with jingling bells), triangle, tambourine, and a heavy bass drum are highlighted, and we hear sudden fortissimo outbursts in the first section. This march is unique in that it includes a part for the harp.

- Program Note by Edward Harris

University Wind Symphony • December 3, 2022

 

La Procesión del Rocío | JOAQUÍN TURINA

 

Joaquín Turina was born in Seville, Spain on December 9, 1882, a year that also saw the birth of notable artists Béla Bartók, Percy Grainger, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, and Anton Webern. Turina began his musical studies in Madrid with José Tragó, who also taught his friend Manuel de Falla, before moving to Paris in 1905 to study with Vincent d’Indy. He benefitted from d’Indy’s demanding training and remained in Paris until 1914. Turina was a marvelous pianist and an excellent conductor who was Diaghilev’s choice to lead the orchestra when the Ballets Russes performed in Spain (1918). He also wrote a two-volume musical encyclopedia (1917) and, after his appointment as Distinguished Professor of Composition at the Conservatory of Madrid in 1931, a two-volume treatise on composition.

The tone poem La Procesión del Rocío was first performed on March 30, 1913, in Madrid, and repeated shortly thereafter in Paris. Although a single movement, the work is divided into two distinct sections labeled “Triana en festival” and “La procession.” The opening section depicts the various religious and popular celebrations that precede the annual procession in honor of the Virgen del Rocío (Virgin of the Dew). This pilgrimage is held annually during Pentecost, beginning in Seville (Triana is a neighborhood within the city) and ending at the coastal town of Rocío. Over the course of six days, thousands of pilgrims make their way over fifty miles of fields to the sea. These pilgrims, seated in elaborately decorated farming carts or walking, escort the statue of the Virgin of the Dew to Rocío in this annual ritual but return to their festive ways in celebration of their arrival at the sea. In the evening, campfires are lit and music fills the air. Flamenco dancing is integral to the celebration. Turina’s composition conveys the religiosity of the procession, as well as the vital popular spirit of the nightly entertainment.

 

 

Duende | LUIS SERRANO ALARCÓN

From Theory and Play of the Duende, Federico Garcia Lorca, 1933

The duende...Where is the duende?
Through the empty archway a wind of the spirit enters,

Blowing insistently over the heads of the dead,
in search of new landscapes and unknown accents:
a wind with the odour of a child’s saliva, crushed grass,

and medusa’s veil, announcing the endless baptism
of freshly created things.

Luis Serrano Alarcón explains his motivation for this piece below:

The term duende is used in flamenco to refer to a state of inspiration and supreme perceptiveness, almost magic, which is only reached by performers on rare occasions. The term is also used, by extension, to describe a person who has a special grace (something difficult to explain) that makes them different from the rest of us. The use of the word as the title of this collection of preludes, independently of its poetic significance, is mainly based on the fact that I found my principal inspiration for this composition in Spanish music. Listening to the piece, one can hear the symphonic energy of de Falla’s scores, the intimacy of Iberia by Albeniz, the magic of the guitar when played by Paco de Lucia, the festive happiness of a Granadian flamenco neighborhood, but especially, the obvious presence of jazz and Latin music. Through this style fusion, I wanted to symbolically reflect where our Spanish society stands now. We are a society with many old traditions, living in a cosmopolitan and modern community.

Mainly self-taught, Spanish composer Luis Serrano Alarcón is recognized as one of his country’s leading composers. His compositions have won numerous awards, and he accepts frequent commissions from a wide array of international musicians interested in performing his work. Alarcón also teaches music analysis and composition at the Professional Conservatory of Torrent located in Valencia, Spain.

 

Tarot | LINDSAY BRONNENKANT

Lindsay Bronnenkant is an American composer and conductor. Dr. Bronnenkant received her Doctor of Musical Arts in wind conducting from the Eastman School of Music and a master’s degree in wind conducting from the University of Michigan. Her talents as a conductor have earned her several honors, including an invitation to conduct the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” at their 2017 Conductors Showcase. Dr. Bronnenkant is currently on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and previously taught at Nazareth College and led the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Community Wind Ensemble.

Regarding her composition, Bronnenkant writes:

Gustav Holst was incredibly interested in Indian culture, going so far as to teach himself Sanskrit. Some evidence suggests that he tried to incorporate Indian rāgas into his works, and after investigating Holst’s resources and analyzing his Planets, I believe that Holst tried to reference rāgas that evoked similar characters to those of the planets in his suite. Holst’s access to authentic performance of Indian music was limited, however, and like many composers–especially as a British composer entrenched in modal composition during the English folk song revival of the early twentieth century–he took what he understood of rāgas and filled in the gaps with Western theoretical knowledge, resulting in the treatment of what were once rāgas as scales or modes.

I decided to compose a suite that traces Holst’s footsteps but applies his musical experimentation to a new topic: Tarot. Like astrology, Tarot cards have been used for divination, and as each planet in modern astrology represents specific characteristics and personality traits, so too does each Tarot card. Some elements of the Hindustani thāts, Karnātak mēlakarta rāgas, and pitch sets Holst references in his Planets are referenced in Tarot using a similarly Western approach to portray Tarot card analogs.

In Tarot, the Fool represents someone who dives head-first through open doors with enthusiasm (and sometimes with a blissful ignorance of any looming danger). The card represents new beginnings, playfulness, naïveté, and optimism. The first movement, The Fool contains several intentionally comedic moments as the Fool, unaware of the luck manifesting from his will, manages to skip through a minefield unharmed. The movement references the pitches of the Kalyān that are found in Jupiter, a benefic planet of good fortune, to represent the Fool’s beginner’s luck. The movement also uses the whole-tone scale hinted at in some of Holst’s themes for Uranus, a chaotic and unpredictable planet, to depict the unintentional mayhem that inevitable follows each of the Fool’s steps.

In Tarot, the suit of cups corresponds with emotional energy and the element of water. A deeply empathetic soul, the King of Cups tempers his emotions by balancing his heart with his head. The King leads diplomatically through compassion. The second movement, The King of Cups, references the pitches of mēlakarta rāga Dhavalāmbari from Neptune as a nod to a fellow intuitive and ruler of the sea, and additionally employs the pitches of the Bhairavī that are found in Venus to allude to the King’s kind and gentle countenance.

The Tower represents surprise, upheaval, and destruction. It represents the collapse of the structure, the crumbling of façades based on faulty foundations. The final movement references Mars, the Bringer of War with two similar pitch sets: the one Holst uses in Mars, as well as a theme that Holst may have meant to draw from, Bhairav.

   

Mariachitlán: | JUAN PABLO CONTRERAS – Juan Pablo Contreras is tonight’s composer-in-residence.

Contreras offers the following remarks about his composition on tonight’s program:

Mariachitlán (Mariachiland) is an orchestral homage to my birthplace, the Mexican state of Jalisco, where mariachi music originated. The work recounts my experience visiting the Plaza de los Mariachis in Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco, a place where mariachis play their songs in every corner and interrupt each other to win over the crowd.

In Mariachitlán, traditional rhythms such as the canción ranchera (ranchera song) in 2/4 time (choon-tah choon-tah), the vals romántico (romantic waltz) in 3/4 time (choon-tah-tah), and the son jalisciense (Jalisco song) that alternates between 6/8 and 3/4 time, accompany original melodies inspired by the beautiful landscapes of Jalisco. Mariachi instruments such as the trumpet, harp, and violin are featured as soloists in this work. Furthermore, the strings emulate the strumming patterns of vihuleas, while the contrabasses growl like guitarrones.

Near the end of the piece, a policeman blows his whistle in an attempt to stop the party. However, the crowd chants Mariachitlán, gradually increasing in intensity, and is rewarded with more vibrant music that ends the work with great brilliance.

 

The Fly | OSCAR NAVARRO

Oscar Navarro (b. 1981, Novelda, Spain) is a Spanish composer. He is the recipient of many national and international music awards for composition, and his music is performed and commissioned by many orchestral and wind ensembles throughout the globe. Navarro combines his busy agenda composing with master classes and lectures. He has been invited to speak at several music festivals and universities, including Chapman University, California, 25th Film Symposium Jove in Valencia, Spain, CIFICOM (Sci-Fi Film Festival of Madrid), II Symposium of Wind Ensembles of Medellin, Colombia, Music Festival of the Symphony of Manizales, Colombia, and the University of Southern California.

Regarding his composition, the composer writes:

The Fly is a musical invention for symphonic wind band, conceived to emulate the sound produced when a fly travels across the different sections of the band. The music begins in the calmest manner, awakening the listener from a peaceful dream, and throughout the duration of the piece their mood will change into a state of wrath caused by the tediousness of this fly.

 

Titan Voices & Singing Titans • December 5, 2022

 

 

Ubi Caritas | MICHAEL JOHN TROTTA

 

Written in the late 8th Century, the antiphon Ubi Caritas is one of most sacred and beloved Gregorian chants in choral music. While it was originally sung during the Cathoic tradition of “Maundy Thursday” for the washing of feet, it has since been set in hundreds of iterations. This particular version by composer, music educator, and church music director Michael John Trotta opens with this ancient melody before exploring modern, rhapsodic harmonies between soloist and choir. The opening line of the chant sweetly states “where true charity is, God is there.”

 

Ubi cáritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

Congregávit nos in unum Christi amor.

Exsultémus et in ipso iucundémur.

Timeámus et amémus Deum vivum.

Et ex corde diligámus nos sincéro.

Amen.

 

Where charity and love are, God is there.

Love of Christ has gathered us into one.

Let us rejoice in Him and be glad.

Let us fear, and let us love the living God.

And from a sincere heart let us love each other.

Amen.

 

 

Ritmo | DAN DAVISON

 

This celebratory octavo for double chorus and four-hand piano calls for all people to sing, dance, and play! Written by junior high music educator and choral performer Dan Davison in 2009, the text utilizes Castilian Spanish and body percussion in sparkling syncopated rhythms. The two choirs engage in call and response, urging each other to “sing in joyful chorus” and “make harmony,” before coming together with “all voices…with hope, and with rhythm.” This joyful arrangement continues the themes of humanity, unity within all peoples, and the purity and sanctity of music itself.

 

Ritmo.

Batir las manos al ritmo. Hábilmente.

Batir las manos al ritmo.

Canten en coro gozoso, Con amor y esperanza.

Cantaremos en ritmo. Cantaremos en coro. Cantaremos en ritmo.

Levanten sus voces. (Todas las voces) Levanta su corazón.

Con instrumentos musicales, Cantaremos de libertad y de amor.

Hagen en harmonia.

Vamos a cantar y a jugar.

Totas voces, todas gentes Hábilmente,

con todas voces, con Instrumentos, con esperanza, y con ritmo.

Batir las manos al ritmo.

Batir las manos con toda la gente,

Con Todas voces, con alegría y con gozo.

Cantaremos con gozo.

Con amor y esperanza. Cantaremos de paz.

Cantaremos de amor.

Cantaremos con alegría y con gozo. Ritmo.

 

Rhythm.

Clap your hands to the rhythm. Capably.

Clap your hands to the rhythm.

Sing in joyful chorus, With love and hope.

We will sing in rhythm. We will sing in chorus. We will sing in rhythm.

Lift your voices (All the voices) Lift your heart.

With musical instruments, We will sing of freedom and love.

Make harmony.

Let’s go and play.

All voices. All people. Capably,

With all voices, with Instruments, with hope, and with rhythm.

Clap your hands to the rhythm. Clap your hands with all the people,

With all voices, with happiness, and with joy.

We will sing with joy.

With love and hope.

We will sing of peace.

 

 

Yellow Bird | NORMAN LUBOFF, ARR. DAN DAVISON

 

This Haitian-Creole inspired song was originally recorded by the Norman Luboff Choir in 1957 on their Calypso Holiday album. The earliest version of this piece was entitled “Choucone,” and took its lyrics from poet Oswald Durand. In 1893, American-born pianist Michel Mauleart Monton set the words to music, and eventually the tune was recorded by Puerto Rican singer Lolita Cuevas. Fast-forward to the mid-1950s, and songwriting team Alan and Marilyn Bergman rewrote the lyrics for what we now know as “Yellow Bird,” all while maintaining the calypso-inspired melody.

 

Yellow bird, up high in banana tree.

Yellow bird, you sit all alone like me.

Did your lady friend leave the nest again?

That is very sad, make me feel so bad.

You can fly away, in the sky away.

You more lucky than me.

I also had a pretty gal, she not with me today.

They all the same, the pretty gal.

Make them the nest, then they fly away.

Yellow bird, yellow bird.

Better fly away, in the sky away.

Picker comin’ soon, pick from night to noon.

Black and yellow you, like banana too,

They might pick you some day.

Yellow bird, yellow bird.

 

 

Prayer of the Children | KURT BESTOR, ARR. ANDREA S. KLOUSE

 

Keyboardist Kurt Bestor wrote “Prayer of the Children” in 1994 in response to the war-torn former country of Yugoslavia, and the death of its President Josip Broz Tito.  After seeing the devastating effects on all surrounding European peoples - Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, etc., he penned the beginning words “Can you hear…? Can you feel…?”, and the rest came to him easily. After a solo performance of this meaningful song, composer Andrea Klause approached him with the idea for a children’s SSA choral arrangement.  The popularity of this choral piece skyrocketed, and has since been used as a gentle and cherishing commemoration for victims of 9/11, Columbine High School, and the Oklahoma City bombing.

 

Can you hear the prayer of the children

On bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room?

Empty eyes, with no more tears to cry

Turning heavenward, toward the light

 

Crying, "Jesus, help me

To see the morning light of one more day;

But if I should die before I wake

I pray my soul to take."

 

Can you feel the heart of the children

Aching for home, for something of their very own?

Reaching hands, with nothing to hold on to

But hope for a better day, a better day

 

Crying, "Jesus, help me

To feel the love again in my own land;

But if unknown roads lead away from home

Give me loving arms, away from harm."

 

Can you hear the voice of the children

Softly pleading for silence in a shattered world?

Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate

Blood of the innocent on their hands

 

Crying, "Jesus, help me

To feel the sun again upon my face;

For when darkness clears I know you're near

Bringing peace again."

 

Dali cujete sve djecje molitive?

Can you hear the prayer of the children?

 

 

Harmony’s Never Too Late | STEVEN FLAHERTY, ARR. MARK HAYES

 

Best known for his award-winning musicals Ragtime, Lucky Stiff, Once on This Island, Seussical, and animated film Anastasia, composer Stephen Flaherty’s lyrical music is joyous and inspiring. This specific composition was written in tandem with Lynn Ahrens, his long-time musical partner, for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington D.C for their 40th Anniversary Celebration in 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the premiere of this piece happened via Youtube and virtual choir video. Accompanied by piano, bass, and drums, this exuberant song is an uplifting anthem to listeners and performers alike.

 

Someone is alone behind a window,

Somebody is holdin’ back their tears.

Somebody is calling out to anyone at all.

Alone in the dark, the voices no one hears.

But anytime a voice can join another,

And anytime our voices start to rise,

And anytime we start to sing the songs we’re born to sing,

It’s a simple thing, and the harmonies can reach the very skies.

 

We are listening. Can you hear me cry?

We are listening. Can you hear me call?

Tell me you can hear me after all.

And I will sing!

I will sing as a way of forgiving. Sing!

I will sing for the dead and the living. Sing!

Singin’ love even louder than hate, ‘cause harmony’s never too late!

I will sing for the ones who are frightened. Sing!

For the ones who can still be enlightened. Sing!

Sing it out when they tell me to wait, ‘cause harmony’s never too late.

 

And anyone who feels they’ve been forgotten,

And anyone who’s shaken to the core,

And anyone who’s broken like a bird without a wing,

Only try to sing, and our harmonies will ring forevermore.

 

We are listening. Can you hear me cry?

We are listening. Can you hear me call?

Tell me you can hear me after all.

And I will sing!

I will sing as a way of forgiving. Sing!

I will sing for the dead and the living. Sing!

Singin’ love even louder than hate, ‘cause harmony’s never too late!

I will sing for the ones who are frightened. Sing!

For the ones who can still be enlightened. Sing!

Sing it out when they tell me to wait, ‘cause harmony’s never too late. 

 

 

It’s the Holiday Season | KAY THOMPSON, ARR. MARK HAYES

 

Mark Hayes’ jazzy arrangement of this holiday classic echoes the original mash-up best known by crooner Andy Williams. William’s iconic self-titled Christmas album was released in 1963, and it combined songwriter and performer Kay Thompson’s It’s the Holiday Season with Irving Berlin’s Happy Holidays. This beloved Christmas tune is number twenty-three on Billboard’s top-charting holiday songs of all time and has seen all manner of holiday arrangements including versions by Peggy Lee, Billy Idol, Martina McBride, and Darren Criss.

 

It's the holiday season

And Santa Claus is coming 'round

The Christmas snow is white on the ground

When old Santa gets into town

He'll be coming down the chimney, down

(He'll be coming down the chimney, down)

It's the holiday season

And Santa Claus has got a toy

For every good girl and good little boy

Santa's a great big bundle of joy

When he's coming down the chimney, down

(When he's coming down the chimney, down)

He'll have a big fat pack upon his back

And lots of goodies for you and for me

So leave a peppermint stick for old St. Nick

Hanging on the Christmas tree

It's the holiday season (the holiday season)

So hoop-de-do and dickory dock

And don't forget to hang up your sock

'Cause just exactly at twelve o'clock

He'll be coming down the chimney, down

(He'll be coming down the chimney, down)

 

 

When We Sing | ROSEPHANYE POWELL

 

Dr. Rosephanye Powell is a force of American choral music, and this new piece has continued her legacy as a master of soul-stirring, rhythmic, and uplifting composition.  Professor of Voice at Auburn University, Powell is an expert in vocal pedagogy and the art of the African-American spiritual. “When We Sing” is one of her newer works and was premiered by professional TTBB ensemble Cantus in 2014. It celebrates the unity of the human race, and expresses the belief that joy, peace, and the beauty of life are the true motivators behind our need to sing.

 

When we sing, we are one. Ev’ry body, come let’s sing.

Oh, let’s sing.  Oh, yes, we are one.

When we sing we’re breathing together,

living life in harmony.

Ev’ry heartbeat pulsing together when we sing.

When we sing we’re one mind and body,

joining heartbeats through our song.

Ev’ry breath we take is together.  We are one.

Through our songs we live, we love,

we breathe as one community in harmony.

In times of war, our songs bring peace.

They ease our troubled minds.

Inhaling, exhaling, we’re breathing together.

We’re being, we’re feeling, we’re sharing

while singing together.

We sing for joy, peace, life, “la, la, la, la, la, la.”

That’s why we sing.

So, let us always sing our songs!

 

Suscepit Israel | JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH

 

Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the world’s most celebrated composers. More often known for his piano and orchestral works, “Suscepit Israel” comes from the tenth movement of Bach’s Magnificat in D. The work features an obligato, or solo, oboe which plays the chant melody throughout the piece. Sung in Latin, the piece conveys the suffering of God’s people and their hope that God will return to protect them. Bach’s technique of using dissonances and suspensions reflect a feeling of weight and pain in a beautiful and moving way.

 

Text from: Luke 1:46–1:55

 

Suscepit Israel puerum suum

Recordatus misericordiae suae.

 

He has helped His servant Israel

In remembrance of His mercy.

 

 

Broken | DOMINICK DIORIO

 

Dr. Dominick DiOrio of Indiana University is one of the United States’ premier new choral music composers. Earning degrees from Yale and Ithaca college, Dr. DiOrio has been recognized with the American Prize in both Choral Composition and Choral Performance. His piece “Broken” uses repetitive figures which build the feeling of anxiety, even panic for the choir as the text reveals that we are truly lost.

 

As quoted in the octavo, DiOrio’s says, “Once we recognize our cycles, our awareness expands, and we begin the necessary step of breaking our patterns and being reborn anew.”

 

Text by: Megan Levad

 

When a compass is broken, it can be replaced.

Needle, cork, shallow dish is all it takes.

Much more difficult is learning the compass is broken.

That part takes decades of wandering in the desert.

 

 

I’ll Go Alone | ELIZABETH ALEXANDER

 

“I’ll Go Alone” speaks of life’s journey and how we must be the master of our own destiny. Minnesota composer Elizabeth Alexander sets the text of Evelyn Dudley, Coretta Scott King’s caretaker toward the end of her life. The text comes from her diary, a "personal testimony and manifesto about faith, hardship, tenacity, service, and courage.” Alexander’s setting of the text follows these many themes by transitioning through different tonalities and articulations. As each new idea is sung, the melodic material dramatically changes before returning to the opening solo theme, this time with more earnest intensity.  

 

Text: Evelyn K. Dudley

 

I’ll go alone if I have to.

If you’re behind me when I begin this journey, stay there, for you will only hinder me –

I’ll go alone if I have to.

My footprints will vanish from this trail someday,

but the seeds that I sow will remain and grow.

The fragrance from the fruit that is borne will draw those who hunger and thirst,

those who seek God in Spirit and Truth –

I’ll go alone if I have to.

For at the end of this journey waits a festive table filled

with blessings and prayers that I prayed and had forgotten.

Have your fill of these blessings!

Oh, I am tired from the journey, and Jesus bids me rest,

and I will sit on the porch of the kingdom,

and realize the destination was no more important than the journey.

I’ll go alone if I have to. On this journey, I’ll go alone.

 

 

Captivity | SERGEI RAHMANINOFF

 

“Captivity”by Sergei Rachmaninoff comes from his “Six Choruses for Treble Voices.” It is the fifth movement of the secular set of songs, all with texts written by Russian poets. Rachmaninoff is one of the definitive Russian composers, representing much of the Russian style before he was exiled from the country in 1918. Written before his exile, “Captivity” is a conversation between a narrator and a caged nightingale. (It is common in Russian poetry to personify animals to symbolize the self or Russia.) Listen for the push and pull of the tempo, emphasizing the emotional agony of the nightingale and the narrator’s encouragement for the bird to choose freedom.

 

Text by: Nikolai Tsyganov

 

Text translated from Russian:

“Little nightingale with your head beneath your wing,

Why do you eat nothing and why do you not sing?”

“Ages ago I sang in spring in a wood beneath the stars.

Now I only hang my head in a cage with golden bars.

Should I sing? My mate is alone and sighing for me.

Should I sing when my nestlings are calling and crying for me?”

“Through the open window behold the open sky.

Be happy, little nightingale. Spread your wings and fly!”

 

 

Will There Really Be a “Morning”? | CRAIG HELLA JOHNSON

 

“Will There Really Be a Morning?” is a simple but meaningful piece about hope. Dickinson’s text describes the search for something more, perhaps heaven or peace, which she calls “morning.” Contrasting with the darkness and unstable nature of night, her “morning” is a place of security and hope. Composer Craig Hella Johnson is the director of the Texas based choir, Conspirare. He sets the poem in a peaceful, strophic, two part arrangement, alternating between moments of unison to bring out the text, and unique harmonies to set each verse apart.

 

Text by: Emily Dickinson

 

Will there really be a "Morning"?

Is there such a thing as "Day"?

Could I see it from the mountains

If I were as tall as they?

 

Has it feet like Water lilies?

Has it feathers like a Bird?

Is it brought from famous countries

Of which I have never heard?

 

Oh some Scholar! Oh some Sailor!

Oh some Wise Men from the skies!

Please to tell a little Pilgrim

Where the place called "Morning" lies!

 

 

Faith is the Bird that Feels the Light | ELIZABETH ALEXANDER

 

Another selection from Elizabeth Alexander, this piece uses a significantly shorter text, but still has many of the hallmarks of Alexander’s compositional style. This a cappella arrangement features four soloists, though the chorus is the primary provider of the text. The song ends on an unexpected chord, filled with excitement and joy, but not fully resolving. The text comes from Rabindranath Tagore, an Indian poet born in 1861. He was also a novelist and musician who composed the current national anthems for India and Bangladesh. 

 

Text by: Rabindranath Tagore

 

Faith is the bird that feels the light

And sings when the dawn is still dark.

 

 

No Time | SUSAN BRUMFIELD

 

Our final piece this evening is Susan Brumfield’s “No Time,” a favorite of both treble and mixed choirs. The piece is based on a camp meeting tune from the 1800’s sung first in unison, and then building to lush harmony as two themes are woven together. The joy of approaching an eternal “home” is enhanced by a soaring crescendo near the end, followed by a peaceful, heavenly conclusion.

 

Traditional Camp Meeting Song

 

Rise, oh fathers, rise, let’s go meet ‘em in the skies,

We will hear the angels singing in that morning

 

Oh I really do believe that just before the end of time

We will hear the angels singing in that morning

 

Rise, oh mothers, rise, let’s go meet ‘em in the skies,

We will hear the angels singing in that morning

 

Oh I really do believe that just before the end of time

We will hear the angels singing in that morning

 

No time to tarry here, no time to wait for you,

No time to tarry here, for I’m on my journey home.

 

Brothers, oh, fare ye well, brothers, oh, fare ye well,

Brothers, oh fare ye well, for I’m on my journey home 

 

Sisters, oh, fare ye well, sisters, oh, fare ye well,

Sisters, oh fare ye well, for I’m on my journey home 

 

No time to tarry here, no time to wait for you,

No time to tarry here, for I’m on my journey home. 

University Band • December 7, 2022

 

On Parade | AMANDA ALDRIDGE

Amanda Christina Elizabeth Aldridge, also called Amanda Ira Aldridge, was born in London in 1866. She was the daughter of African American Shakespearian actor, Ira Aldridge, and Swedish opera singer, Amanda Pauline von Brandt; and sister to Luranah Aldridge, also an opera singer. In her youth, Aldridge was an accomplished pianist and singer (a student of Jenny Lind) and studied composition at the Royal College. In later years, she taught private voice and elocution lessons to British and American singers and actors, including Black performers Paul Robeson, Roland Hayes, and Marian Anderson.

Her compositional career spanned from approximately 1906 to 1934 and included instrumental music, seven piano suites, and at least twenty-six art and parlor songs. Embracing her African American heritage, several of Aldridge’s works incorporate African musical material or are settings of African American texts by poets such as Paul Laurence Dunbar. While much of her music was published under the male pseudonym, Montague Ring, her true identity was an open secret amongst her supporters, family, and music circles. Her most popular works include Three Arabian Dances (1919), Three African Dances (1913), and Carnival Suite of Five Dances (1924) with many works written or arranged for military and dance bands of the time.

Aldridge never married nor bore children but kept in close social contact with her students and cared for two birds, Mr. and Mrs. Browne, through her life. She died after a short illness in 1956.

 

Foundry | JOHN MACKEY  

The idea with Foundry was to make a piece that celebrates the fact that percussionists have this ability to make just about anything into an "instrument." Snare drums and bass drums are great, but why not write a whole piece featuring non-traditional percussion -- things like salad bowls and mixing bowls and piles of wood?

In some cases, I was specific about what instrument to play (timpani, xylophone, etc.). With many of the parts, though, I only described what sound I wanted (play a "clang" — a metal instrument, probably struck with a hammer, that creates a rich "CLANG!" sound), and allowed the percussionist to be creative in finding the best "instrument" to make the sound I described.

It won't be surprising that Foundry, for concert band with "found percussion," much of it metallic, ends up sounding like a steel factory. The composer thanks the required 10–12 percussionists for allowing his ridiculous requests to continue. Clang.

Program note by the composer

 

Halcyon Hearts | KATAHJ COPLEY

Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth,
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres
Love never fails.

Halcyon Hearts is an ode to love and how it affects us all. Halcyon denotes a time where a person is ideally happy or at peace, so in short Halcyon Hearts is about the moment of peace when one finds their love or passion.

The piece centers around major 7th and warm colors to represent the warmth that love bring us. The introduction – which is sudden and colorful – symbolizes the feeling of the unexpected journey it takes to find love. Using the colors and natural energy of the ensemble, we create this sound of ambition and passion throughput the work. No matter what race, gender, religion, nationality or love, we all are united with the common thread of passion from the heart. This piece was written in dedication to those who love no matter which negativity is in the world; do not allow hate and prejudice to guide the way we live our lives. Always choose lover and the halcyon days will come.

Program note by the composer

 

Be Still and Still Moving | NICOLE PIUNNO

The hymn Be Still, My Soul serves as the backbone of this piece. The opening is calm, yet mysterious. This leads to a more dramatic middle section that is full of continuous motion. Overall, this piece reveals the paradox of finding rest even in the midst of unceasing movement and eventually leads to a bold chorale of the hymn with fanfare-like motives above it. At this moment in the piece I think of the following line from the hymn: "All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Program note by the composer

 

Almería | JOSÉ LEÓN ALAPONT  

This work, dedicated to the Almería Municipal Band and, especially, to its director Juan José Navarro, aims to describe the essence of a dreamland: Almería, place where the sun and the sea merge on the horizon. Where the joy and sympathy of the people seduce all who visit it. Its color, its perfume, its air... sensations that are reflected in a composition that also speaks of history. Moorish melodies transport us to the Alcazaba walking through its walls and gardens. An air of freshness fills this Andalusian fantasy, where hand clapping and the flamenco cajón (box drum) are transformed into a Roma party. Sweetness is found in an intimate passage, where the saxophone and trumpet display their tenderness. In short, this is a lively and energetic composition that shows the idiosyncrasy of this seductive corner of the Andalusian peninsula.

Program note by the composer

 

At the Movies with John Williams | JOHN WILLIAMS

John Williams' film scores are bold, unmistakable, and timeless. This collection is not so much a medley of tunes as it is a portrait of his celebrated styles and moods. Incorporating selections from Superman: The Movie, Hook, and Home Alone, the piece is a tapestry of the dramatic and emotional cinematic textures only this magnificent film score composer can provide. The ending, featuring music from Home Alone, is used on tonight’s performance to welcome the coming holiday season.

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