Thursday, December 27, 2012

Midwest Wrap Up

As I sit sipping coffee at the Corner Bakery down the street from my hotel, waiting for my wife to arrive to Chicago for the rest of the weekend, I have some time to sit and reflect about Midwest. Recently, a colleague had asked me to start blogging again. Jes even mentioned it when I mentioned that I had a few free hours here. Finding a place to jump back in, especially after taking a new post in a new state, had been difficult. This does seem like the perfect situation. I apologize in advance for my return post being a “stream of conscious”

I hadn’t been to the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic since before grad school. I basically went to meet with a few professors in hopes of finding a mentor for grad school and I wasn’t able to through the conference. Some of the people I met seemed completely uninterested in music, but were more focused on looking through me, desperate to find someone to talk that held more stature than I. I don’t think I had a full understanding of what Midwest was about until I learned from Dr. Booth. I wish he would’ve been here, to share this with all week.

I went to a few clinics that were worth a listen, but the best experiences were hearing students perform great music! High school kids (word at 720 South was that the MS kids were killing it too) that were passionate about music, collaboration and performing. Teachers that were passionate about teaching and that had found a way to get their school and community to value art. Now, that’s inspiring!

I went to hear Owasso’s Wind Ensemble, thinking I would discover something I’d like to program for my band. I made it a personal mission at this conference to listen to new things so I can keep expanding my love for the repertoire. You never know where the perfect piece will reveal itself to you, right? What I discovered was passion for music making. This experience was repeated by The Woodlands and Marcus. I guess Midwest South is dominating!

The only thing that surpassed these experiences musically, was Leonard Slatkin conducting the Lonestar Wind Orchestra. I mean the Pines of Rome with 30 or so additional  antiphonal brass players!?! It was inspiring.

There were some good non-performance moments too. I listened to Frank Battisti have a casual interview with Dr. Tim. I felt like part of history. Battisti, at age 82, has more life in him when talking about music than anyone I've ever seen. I heard the stories of the Ithaca HS Band. The room was packed as we hung on his ever word and laughed with him. It was great to experience that with one of my mentors, Shelley Jagow. Truly a once in a lifetime event. I'm so glad Dr. Booth had made sure I had taken "with-it-ness 101" during grad school.

As I sat back to write this, I had a wonderful interruption. One of my friends and colleagues, maybe the person in the field I've known the longest, Justin Davis happened to walk by the window. I was so glad he recognized me and came in to chat. We talked for a few hours. It was the most musically in-depth conversation I had the whole week. I was very thankful for the talk and the rekindling of a friendship.

The conference was all about thanking our mentors which means I owe some people some emails and calls. What a great career it's been so far, I can't wait to see what's in store in 2013.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Wind Band Composer Snapshot: Adam Gorb

Wind Band Composer Snapshot: Adam Gorb (1958-Present) British Composer/Teacher
Gorb  at the Royal Northern College of music

- Born in Cardiff, Wales.
- Began composing at age 10 for piano and was featured on BBC radio (the piece was Pianist's Alphabet)
- Studied at Cambridge University (BA 1980) and the Royal Academy of Music(MM 1993)
- Has won many awards including the Walter Beeler Memorial Prize.
- Has held teaching posts at the London College of Music(1994-2000) and Royal Northern College of Music(2000-Present) in Manchester.
- This has put in him in close contact with wind band conductor, Timothy Reynish.
- He has also worked for many drama schools and in music theater.
- Written works for orchestra, choral, vocal, brass band, winds, and chamber music.
- He has a great website,

Major Works for Winds:
Metropolis (1993) 14Min Gr VI
- Premiered by the Royal Academy of Music Wind Ensemble,Edward Gregson, Conductor on March 8th 1993 at the Royal Academy of Music.
- Won  the 1994 Walter Beeler memorial prize
- dedicated to Paul Patterson , a professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music
- Inspired by a radio play which was set in the near future and where the entire population of the country lived in their vehicles, driving forever round a circular motorway day and night, stopping only for food and petrol. The piece tries to capture a mood of extreme tension together with the desperate exhilaration that the play conveyed to me.
- A continuous work written in 4 sections.

Scenes from Bruegel(1994) 16Min Gr V
- Instrumentation: fl(pic), ob, E flat Cl, 2 cl(Bcl.) 2 horn, 2 tpt, 3 tbn, 2 perc
-Commissioned by the National Youth Wind Orchestra.
- Premiered by the National Youth Wind Orchestra David Campbell, Conductor on April 5th 1994 in Cheltenham.
In 4 short mvts: I. Children's Games - Vivace Leggiero, II. Two Monkeys – Lento, III. The Peasant Dance - Presto con Fuoco, and IV. The Wedding Banquet - Moderato Pesante - Allegro Molto
- Based on four paintings Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel, who Gorb says, “has a strong element of satire in his paintings; what comes across most strongly is Bruegel's pinpointing of human folly and hypocrisy.”

*Awayday(1996 rev. 1999) 6Min Gr VI
- Commissioned by the Royal Northern College of Music
- Premiered by the Royal Northern College Wind Ensemble, Timothy Reynish, Conducting on
November 17th 1996 in Manchester.
- Inspired by the great days of the American Musical Comedy and the feeling of  “getting away from it all”.
- Gorb’s Notes State: “Musically the piece is a homage to the great days of the Broadway musical with its irresistable brashness and irrepressible high spirits. If you can envisage George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky and James Bond travelling together at a hundred miles per hour in an open-top sports car, I think you'll get the idea.”

Yiddish Dances(1998) 16Min Gr V
- Commissioned by Timothy Reynish and written for his 60th birthday.
- Premiered by the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Ensemble Timothy Reynish, Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music on March 9th 1998.
- In 6 mvts: I. Khosidl, II. Terkishe, III. Doina, IV. Hora, V. Freylachs, and VI. Le Chaim!
- All are based on Klezmer dances and represent a party atmosphere.

Symphony No. 1 in C(2000) 16 min
- Instrumentation: 2 fl(2pic), 2 ob, 2 Cl, 2 Bsn, 4 Horn, Double Bass
- Commissioned by Tom Hill for a private 40th birthday party
- Premiered by the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Ensemble Clark Rundell, Conducting on June 28th 2000.
- Written in 4 mvts: I. Allegro molto, II. Andante cantabile (con moto), III. Allegro molto e vivace, IV. Allegro molto e vivace
- Taken on with a light-heartedness even though it was his first symphony and some composers find that scale of composition daunting.
- The structural and thematic model of the piece is that of Symphony no. 1 in C by Beethoven.
- Towards the end of the fourth and final movement of this fifteen-minute work there are quotations from other famous symphonies in C.

Downtown Diversions(2001) 18Min GrV
- Commissioned by a consortium of university bands in the USA
- Premiered at the CBDNA Conference at the University of North Texas by the Texas Tech Symphonic Wind Ensemble John Cody Birdwell, Conducting and Don Lucas playing solo trombone on February 24th 2001
- In 3 Mvts: I. Fast, II. Slow, III. Fast.
- Has the character of a serenade or divertimento but with Jazz and Latin influences. It also avoids characteristic trombone sounds such as the glissando.

Towards Nirvana(2002) 21min VII
- Commissioned by the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra
- Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, Douglas Bostock Conducting in Tokyo, Japan on October 18th 2002
- Winner of British Composer Award, Wind and Brass Category, 2004
 - Based on teachings and life of Buddha. Nirvana is the highest possible state of tranquility and the realization of no-self and freedom from cravings and attachment.

*French Dances Revisited(2004) 15Min
- Instrumentation: 2 fl(2 Pic.) 2 ob, 2 cl, 2 bsn, 2 horn
- Commissioned by a Consortium of USA High Schools
- Premiered in Minneapolis USA in November 2004
- conceived during an exercise for Gorb’s students, which was to write a variation on the Bach keyboard prelude in C BVW 939 for double wind quintet.
- In 6 mvts following the model of the Baroque French suite: Overture, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gavotte, and Gigue.
Side Note: I got to hear the WSU Chamber Players learn this piece during grad school. It's great, but trickier than it sounds!

Adrenaline City(2006) 7Min.
- Commissioned by a consortium of USA Military Ensembles. Steve Grimo, Coordinator
- Premiered by the US Military Academy Band Tim Holtan, Conducting at the Clarinet Summit, New York, USA on March 3rd 2006
- Winner of British Composer Award: Wind and Brass Band Category 2008
- inspired by both the stress and vibrancy of twenty-first century city life.
- It features a sonata form in 10/8 time.

Farewell(2009) 20Min
- Commissioned by the National Youth Wind Ensemble of Wales
- Premiered by the National Youth Wind Ensemble of Wales Timothy Reynish Conducting at the Monmouth School for Girls, Wales.
- Winner of British Composer Award, Wind and Brass Category 2009
- splits the wind ensemble into two separate ‘orchestras.’ The first consists of clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, tubas and harsh sounding percussion; and the music is predominantly desperate and anguished. The second consists of flutes, oboes, bass clarinet, bassoons, horns and more gentle percussion, and the mood is more calming and introspective.
- The title refers to Haydn’s Farewell Symphony, but instead of all the players walking off leaving two instrumentalists to finish, here a solo oboe and clarinet step forward and quietly lament while the rest of the band quietly intone an eternal modus in diabilis.??

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wind Band Composer Snapshot: Felix Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) German Romantic Composer/Pianist/Conductor

Felix Mendelssohn
- Considered a versatile prodigy who stood at the forefront of German music.
- His musical style drew upon a variety of influences Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Weber.
- Mendelssohn is known for being a bit conservative in comparison to some of his   contemporaries.
- His music reflects the tension between Classicism and Romanticism.
- produced a great deal work in his short life, including symphonies, concerti, oratorios, piano music, and chamber music.

Major Work for Winds:
Notturno in C, Op. 24(1824) 10 min.
- Goes by a few titles (all using Op. 24) including: Nocturno, Overture for Harmoniemusik, and the arrangement by John Boyd for modern wind band Overture for Band in C Major, Op. 24.
- claimed as one of the early original works for wind band.
- At the age of 15, Mendelssohn spent a vacation with his father in Bad Doberan, a spa near Rostock, Germany. This is where he composed Nocturno.
- The original instrumentation for Op. 24 was that of an expanded Harmoniemusik ensemble. 1222/2100 +English bass horn.
- This original composition for 11 was for the court ensemble of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz I of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, which happened to be a small wind band.
- the original music for 11 instrumentalists was lost before he could get it to his publisher (Simrock), but he sent a version For 23 winds and perc in 1838
- The revised version featured the “Turkish” percussion that was so popular. (see also discussions on janissary music)
- There is a suggestion from musicologists that the 1838 edition might have been Mendelssohn’s effort to imitate the orchestral color of Weber's Preciousa Overture (which features a small wind band playing a gypsy theme)
- In relation to form: The piece is reminiscent of a classical symphony’s first movement. The overture features a slow introduction followed by a fast (Allegro Vivace) sonata form.
- Mendelssohn rescored the work for German and British band instrumentations to acquire more performances.

Notes specific to the John Boyd Arrangement:
- Instrumentation: 3292/4331 +Pic, Alto Clar, Bass Clar, Cbs Clar, C Bsn, 2 Alto sax, Ten Sax, Bari Sax, Euph, sn drum, Triangle, Bass Drum, Crash Cym.
- Boyd’s use of the rediscovered 1826 autograph makes his edition based on the most authentic source known to date.
- The score is marked with * to show what was given in the 1826 edition.
- This arrangement can be performed by a large band, 23 and perc, or for the original 11.
- Leaving out the saxophones will recreate the 1838 fairly accurately.
- If performing the version for 11 omit m. 191-193 as they were added by Mendelssohn in 1838.
Performance Practice Notes: 
Tempo-  Andante should be like a human heartbeat(76-80) and Allegro should be twice as fast.
- Dr. Boyd has also given some extensive notes on specific measures in his score.
for the geography loving folks!

I bet a lot of people don't know that Mendelssohn wrote a bit of "Band Music" and I'm really glad he did! Overture for Harmonie, Op. 24 is a staple of the wind ensemble repertoire not only because it is one of the few original works for winds written during the Romantic period, but also because it allows winds to play a lively work by a composer who is respected by the music community at large.