Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wind Band Composer Snapshot: Dr. Dana Wilson

Dr. Dana Wilson (1946-Present) American Composer/Pianist/Teacher
Dana Wilson, Composer
- Interested early on(HS) in improvisation and played guitar and piano.
- Holds degrees from Bowdoin College(BA Psychology, Music minor- 1968), UCONN(MA- Music Theory- 1975), and Eastman(Ph.D- Theory 1982)
- Was drafted for the Vietnam war and played piano in Germany during his tour.
- Has written music for ensembles such as the Chicago Chamber Musicians, Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, Netherlands Wind Ensemble, and the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra.
- Received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, and Art Midwest.
- His compositions have won many awards, including the International Trumpet Guild First Prize, the Sudler International Composition Prize, and the Ostwald Award.
- Serves of the faculty teaching composition at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York.
- co-authored “Contemporary Choral Arranging”, and has written for the “Composer's Insight” series(Vol. 4) and "Composers on Composing for Band, Vol. 2."
- It is said that he conceptualizes the wind band as a sort of large jazz band.

Major works for Wind Ensemble:
Piece of Mind(1987) 20min Gr V
- Premiered in New York City with the Ithaca College Band. Rodney Winther, Conductor
- Won both the Sudler Award(1987) and the Ostwald(1988)
- In 4 movements: I. Thinking, II. Remembering, III. Feeling, and IV. Being
- It’s a pun(peace of mind) and represents Wilson’s musical reflections on the inner workings of the human mind.

Time Cries, Hoping Otherwise- Concerto for Alto sax and Wind Ensemble(1990) Gr. V
- Commissioned by the University of Northern Arizona.
- Premiered by Laura Hunter and the Northern Arizona Wind Symphony at the western conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance in 1991.
- Also available for alto saxophone and piano.

Calling, Ever Calling – Concerto for Oboe and Wind Ensemble(1991) Gr. V
- Commissioned by the Mid-American Band Directors Association,
- Premiered in 1991 at the 50th anniversary convention of the CBDNA in Kansas City, with Michael Henoch, oboist with the Chicago Symphony, performing.
- This work is “to awaken the spirits, to one’s love, to dance so that we may forget...”
- At various times, the soloist calls to the audience or different members of the ensemble, and ensemble members call to each other

Dance of the New World(1992) 8 min Gr. IV
- commissioned by Belmont High School, Belmont, MA with funding from the Mass. Foundation for the Arts.
- completed 500 years, to the month that Christopher Columbus first landed in the New World.
- The piece is considered a tribute to the blending of styles and attitudes that has taken place in the “Latin” American region of this hemisphere where Columbus first landed.
- It is also intended to suggest the hopeful awakening of the Renaissance that his voyage symbolized.

The Shifting Bands of Time(1997) 12min Grade III
- Commissioned by Ohio University.
- Metric shifting challenges younger groups.

Shortcut Home(comp 1998, pub 2003) 3min Gr IV
- Premiered by the Hillsborough High School Band(NJ) with composer conducting in 1998.
- Written as an extended fanfare with jazz influences
- Home is C Major, which we arrive on with the final chord

Other works for Winds:
Avatar- Concerto for Bassoon and Chamber Winds(2006), Black Nightshade for four perc and wind symphony(2004), Clarion Call for brass and perc(1988), Colorado Peaks(2005), Concerto for Horn and Wind Ensemble(1997), Leader Lieder for trumpet and wind ensemble(2002), Day Dreams(2006), Evolution(1999), Footsteps(2010) harder they fall for Narrator and Wind Symphony(2004), Io Rising for brass quintet and wind ensemble(1993), Kah! Out of Darkness(1999), Liquid Ebony for clarinet and wind ensemble(2005), Liquid Gold for soprano sax and wind ensemble, trans. of Liquid Ebony(2005), Odysseus and the Sirens(2008), Remembrance(2005), Sang!(1994), Shakata: Singing the World into Existence(1989), To Set the Darkness Echoing...(2005), Uprising(1995), Vortex band, percussion, and piano(1999), When I Am Gone Away(2006), and Winds on the Steppes for 16 winds, piano, and perc.(1991)  

Dana Wilson is an incredibly prolific composer for our medium. You can listen to clips and find out more about him and his music on his website,

In other news, I'm done with my first year of Graduate School in about a week and a half! I can't believe how fast it's gone and how much I've learned. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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