Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ensembles Combine for Holiday Concert

 Schubert’s Magnificat, Corelli’s Christmas Concerto and sacred music of the season highlight a combined holiday concert by the Humboldt Symphony, University Singers and Humboldt Chorale on Friday December 12 and Sunday December 14 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 The concert’s climax is Franz Schubert’s “Magnificat,” performed by all three ensembles. Also known as the song of Mary and taken from the Gospel of Luke, the Magnificat has been set to music by many composers, from Bach and Vivaldi to Rachmaninoff and John Rutter.  One version or another is often performed in the Christmas season.

 “The string section carries the orchestral part,” said Humboldt Symphony conductor Paul Cummings. “The piece is almost all full ensemble choral singing, though there’s a lovely passage for solo voices that’s very melodic, typical of Schubert.”

 On its own the Symphony performs the Christmas Concerto by Baroque composer Arcangelo Corelli. It is Corelli’s best-known work for strings, which he requested be played on Christmas Eve. “Parts of the melody may be familiar,” Cummings said, “since it is heard at this time of year. Besides strings, it is scored for harpsichord, and we’re using a real one, not a synthesizer.”

 The orchestra also performs the fast-changing “Four Little Pieces” by contemporary composer Karel Husa, and the melodic Holberg Suite by Edvard Grieg.

 The Humboldt Chorale begins the concert with sacred music by 20th century French composer Gabriel Faure and contemporary American composer James Kantor, as well as a traditional American Christmas spiritual. The Chorale is a community group directed for the first time by Elisabeth Harrington.

 The University Singers, directed by Harley Muilenburg, perform contemporary British composer John Rutter’s “Gloria,” a celebratory section of the Mass based on Gregorian chant.

 The three ensembles also collaborate on two carols to end the concert: “How far is it to Bethlehem?” and “Still, still, still,” both originally arranged for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The combined holiday concert by Humboldt Symphony, University Singers and Humboldt Chorale is performed on Friday December 12 and Sunday December 14 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU in Arcata. Tickets are $8 general, $5 seniors and children, and free to HSU students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door.  Concert produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now

Holiday Concert Notes

Humboldt Chorale director Elisabeth Harrington:

James Kantor
Beati in domo Domini" by James G. Kantor, arranged for 3-part choir (SAB) and flute, and also featuring percussive sounds from the singers.

 "Sanctus" from Requiem in D minor by Gabriel Faure, arranged for 3-part choir (SAB) by Jill Gallina.

 "Rise Up , Shepherd, and Follow," a traditional American Negro Spiritual Christmas Carol, arranged for 4-part choir and tenor and soprano soloists by Nathaniel Berle Garris.

The Humboldt Chorale will be collaborating with the University Singers and the Humboldt Symphony to perform the Schubert Magnificat and two additional holiday carols arranged by Mack Wilberg: "Still, still, still" (traditional Austrian; sung in English) "How far is it to Bethlehem?" (English carol) Both of these carols were composed for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.


University Singers director Harley Muilenburg:

John Rutter
John Rutter's “Gloria” was commissioned by the Voices of Mel Olson, Omaha, Nebraska. The [British] composer directed the first performance on the occasion of his first visit to the United States in May, 1974. Rutter writes that “Gloria” is “based mainly on one of the Gregorian chants associated with the text.” The music is festive and celebratory.

The practice of subdividing sections of the mass, such as the Gloria and the Credo, into separate movements as stand-alone compositions dates from the time of JS Bach. John Rutter based his setting of the “Gloria” on one of many Gregorian chants which utilized the Gloria text. Rutter says, "The accompaniment makes quite a joyful noise unto the Lord.” Rutter’s “Gloria” has become a favorite for its “freshness, dramatic impact, and its sheer beauty.”

Humboldt Symphony conductor Paul Cummings:

Franz Schubert
This is our traditional every-other-year concert with combined orchestra and choruses.  Our combined piece at the end of the concert is Schubert's Magnificat for orchestra, choir and four soloists.

In terms of the orchestra part, most of the heavy lifting is done by the strings.  The piece has the typical fast-slow-fast series of movements: the first movement is allegro Maestoso, the second is andante, the third is allegro vivace. There's very little counterpoint, especially for a German composer.

 For the voices, the piece is almost all ensemble choral singing, though in the second movement there's a lovely passage for soloists--a typical Schubert passage that's very melodic.  We have four wonderful students who auditioned for those parts--soprano, alto, tenor, bass--and they're doing a great job.

Schubert wrote this in 1816, a fairly early work.  It tells the Magnificat story as derived from the Gospel of Luke.  It's in Latin, as is most sacred music of this period.


Arcangelo Corelli
The orchestra on its own performs three works.  We did parts of these three in our last concert.  For this concert we perform the complete work.

Corelli's Christmas Concerto, the Concerto Grosso #8, is probably his best-known work for strings.  Parts of it are familiar from the holiday season.  Corelli was one of the great mid-Baroque composers at the end of the 17th century, active mostly in Rome.  He wrote quite a few pieces in this form of the concerto grosso, which features two main groups: the concertino group, which is a group of soloists, and the ripeno, which is everybody else.  We have three student soloists as part of the concertino group--there will be three different soloists each night.  There's also a nice harpsichord part, which we perform on a real harpsichord, not a synthesizer.

Karel Husa: Four Little Pieces (Vier kleine Stucke) 1955

Karel Husa
This is a very nice contemporary piece, atonal  but rather accessible.  It has a lot of material that's repeated and a lot of variety.  In some parts you can hear a melody, while other parts have no melodic material whatsoever.  We did the outer two of the four movements last time.  This time we perform the inner two movements as well.

 Karel Husa was born in 1921 in Czechoslovakia. He emigrated to the United States and began teaching at Cornell University in 1954. He published this work the next year.





Edvard Grieg
Edvard Grieg: From Holberg’s Time, Suite for Strings op. 40 #168

This is one of the classic pieces for string orchestra, so it's always nice to have our students doing core repertoire.  We did the first three movements last time--now we're doing all five.

 In the same vein as Franz Schubert, melody really drives Grieg's music. That’s very apparent in this piece, where there’s always melodic material that’s the basis of the development of the music.

 Grieg is considered Norway’s greatest composer. He wrote this in 1884 to honor Ludvig Holberg, a writer of the early 18th century who is considered the founder of modern Norwegian and Danish literature. He was called “the Moliere of Scandanavia.” So Grieg is capturing the spirit embodied in his literature and that earlier time.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Jazz Orchestra: From Grunge to Big Band 

The HSU Jazz Orchestra turns grunge and steel pan sounds into jazz, then gets back to early 60s big band basics in its December 13 concert at Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 “’Black Hole Sun’ was a hit for the seminal grunge band Soundgarden in 1994,” said director Dan Aldag, “but arranger James Miley radically reworked it into a contemporary jazz piece.”

 A transformation closer to home comes from HSU alum Dan Fair, who turned “Summer Song” by Trinidad composer and steel pan player Cliff Alexis into a tune especially for the Jazz Orchestra. 

Current band members Kyle McInnis (alto sax) and Ryan Woempner (bass) contribute originals, called “Schnell!” and “Fire Crayon Drawing.” 

Get frustrated with endless menus instead of a human on the other end of the phone? So did jazz composer Bill Holman, whose “Press One” is on the Jazz Orchestra playlist.

 Big band roots also get explored with early 60s arrangements from Charles Mingus, Count Basie and the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band. Lauren Strella and Tyler Martin solo on the Mulligan tunes, each on baritone saxophone.

 HSU Jazz Orchestra performs on Saturday December 13 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU in Arcata. Tickets are $8 general, $5 seniors and children, and free to HSU students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Dan Aldag, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: North Coast Journal, Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now

Jazz Orchestra Concert: Director's Notes

Notes by Jazz Orchestra Director Dan Aldag:

The Jazz Orchestra is playing original works by two student composers: "Schnell!", by alto saxophonist Kyle McInnis and "Fire Crayon Drawing" by bassist Ryan Woempner.

Recent HSU grad Dan Fair wrote for us an arrangement of "Summer Song" by the Trinidadian composer and steel pan player Cliff Alexis, who composed the piece for steelband.

"Black Hole Sun" was a hit for the seminal grunge band Soundgarden in 1994, but arranger James Miley radically reworked it into a contemporary jazz piece.

 The great jazz composer Bill Holman was inspired to write "Press One" by the seemingly endless phone trees too often encountered when calling a business. It's not strictly programmatic, but the basic elements of the piece were clearly inspired by various facets of the phone tree experience.




Because we're lucky enough to have two baritone saxophonists in the band this semester, we're able to perform two charts from Gerry Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band of the early 1960s. "Sweet and Slow" is an Al Cohn arrangement and will feature Lauren Strella. "Little Rock Getaway" was first arranged by Cohn, and then Mulligan revised it. Our performance will feature Tyler Martin.

"Song With Orange" is a Charles Mingus tune. We're playing the arrangement that John Stubblefield wrote for the Mingus Big Band. "Nice 'n' Easy" comes from the Count Basie library of the early 1960s.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sky Diving with the AM Jazz Band

On Thursday December 11,The AM Jazz Band plays arrangements of the jazz classics "Scrapple From The Apple" by Charlie Parker, "Sticks" by Nat Adderley, Freddie Hubbard's "Sky Dive", and Duke Ellington's "Across The Track Blues" in the same version his band recorded in 1940, plus the standards "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise" and "My Funny Valentine."

AM Jazz Band performs on Thursday December 11 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU in Arcata. Tickets are $8 general, $5 seniors and children, and free to HSU students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Dan Aldag, produced by the HSU Music Department.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The Holidays Start with Madrigals and MRT 

 HSU Madrigal Singers in costume jump-start the holiday season with their traditional program of madrigals and English folk songs, plus the Mad River Transit Singers perform jazz, be-bop and blues with a four piece backing band on Sunday December 7. 

 The Madrigal Singers feature songs of young love by Robert Jones and Orlando di Lasso, composers of the Elizabethan age in England. But the best-known writer of that era will also make an appearance, with the final three madrigals set to the words of William Shakespeare.

 “Lord” Clint Rebik and “Lady” Kristen Mack will present news of the day (the 1500s), another traditional part of the program. 

 Then the Mad River Transit Singers take over with their program of ballads and up-tempo numbers that include arrangements ranging from “God Bless the Child” and “O Mary, Don’t You Weep” to “Ray’s Rockhouse” and “Route 66.” MRT is backed by John Chernoff on piano, Ryan Woempner on bass, Thatcher Holvik-Norton on drums and Kyle McInnis on alto saxophone.

HSU Madrigal and MRT Singers perform on Sunday December 7 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets are $8, $5 seniors & children, HSU students free with ID, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Harley Muilenburg, produced by HSU Music department.


 This year’s MRT Singers (not in order pictured; click photo to enlarge): Ian Alexander, Laura Doughty, Hannah Fels, Trina Garrett, Melody Gonzalez, Christian Lesko, Kyle McInnis, Danielle Murray, Christopher Parreira, Corey Tamondong, Rilo Wade, and Alberto Zamora.

 Madrigal Singers (not in order pictured; click photo to enlarge) Tiffany Casparis, Ana Ceja, Erin Corrigan, Victor Guerrero, Jessica Golden, David Howard, Charles Hollowell, Jordan Kramlich, Rich Macey, Kristen Mack, Megan McCaffrey, Edrees Nassir, Matthew Nelson, Nicholas Notthoff, John Pettlon, Linh Phom, Rosemary Torres, Rebeca Ramos, Clint Rebik, Catherine Rippetoe, Shay Singh and Kellie Ventura.

Media: North Coast Journal, Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Calypso Band Dance Rhythms, Percussion Ensemble’s Metallic Rainforest 

 HSU Calypso Band plays high-energy dance music from Trinidad, the World Percussion Group explores dance drumming from Ghana and the Percussion Ensemble performs two percussive classics, all on Saturday December 6 in the Van Duzer Theatre. 

 “The First Construction in Metal” is a 1939 John Cage composition that Percussion Ensemble director Eugene Novotney calls “brash, creative and a vital example of the American avant-garde style.” It employs 58 metal instruments to produce what New Music writer Alexandra Gardner calls “a metallic rainforest.”

 “Many consider it to be Cage’s finest early work,” Novotney said, “and this is an excellent opportunity to hear and experience this classic piece.” 

 The Percussion Ensemble also plays “Concertino for 12 Percussionists and 2 Pianos” by Czech composer Vaclev Nelhybel.

 “Nehlybel uses different combinations of membranes, woods, and metals to create fascinating textures and soundscapes that surround the listener with pulsating rhythmic variety,” Novotney said. The result is “an immense piece” that is “highly rhythmic and extremely exciting.” 

 Then the World Percussion Group explores dance drumming from the Ewe people of Ghana, aided by dancers from the HSU World Dance Expressions class performing traditional choreography. 

 The Calypso Band takes over for the second half of the concert with authentic dance rhythms from Trinidad, including two modern Panorama classics: “Misbehave” by Lennox “Boogsie” Sharpe, and “We Just Can’t Go On Like This” by Ray Holman

HSU Calypso Band, World Percussion Group and Percussion Ensemble perform on Saturday December 6 at 8 p.m. in the Van Duzer Theatre on the HSU campus. Tickets are $10/$5 seniors & children/$3 HSU students from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Eugene Novotney and Howard Kaufman, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: North Coast Journal, Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now

Friday, December 05, 2014

Symphonic Band Rides the Range with John Williams

The HSU Symphonic Band rides the range with John Williams’ movie music for The Cowboys, plus music based on English and Korean folk melodies, and three works featuring some unusual percussion, on Friday December 5. 

The Cowboys was a 1972 film starring John Wayne. Although written early in Williams' film career and overshadowed by his better-known scores such as Star Wars, the American Film Institute considers it one of his ten best.

 This arrangement by Jim Curnow preserves the variety of the film score that accompanied scenes of riding and roping, of cowboys around the campfire and the vastness of the open range. “It’s very exciting music,” said Symphonic Band conductor Paul Cummings. “It’s very tuneful, as is all of John Williams’ film music.” 

 Earlier in the evening the Band performs the entire Second Suite for Military Band by Gustav Holst. “Holst’s First Suite is often described as being a folk music suite but it isn’t based on any actual folk songs,” Cummings commented.

 “The second suite is based on folk songs like 'Greensleeves' and others that would have been familiar to Holst’s first audiences in 1911. So we’re going to present a small group of singers performing several of those songs before we play the suite, to give the audience a sense of what inspired the composer.” 

 The band moves from English folk music to Asia with Variations on a Korean Folk Song by contemporary American composer John Barnes Chance. The composer uses unusual percussion instruments such as the temple block as well as different rhythms to explore the song “Arirang.” “This is really a masterwork,” Cummings said, "and enjoyable to listen to, because it’s got that unifying element of the folk song.” 

 Two other pieces by contemporary American composers also prominently employ unusual percussion instruments to create a variety of musical effects: Shadow Rituals by Robert Markowski and Night Dances by Bruce Yurko. In its faster section the Yurko piece also features brass instruments. “We have a terrific brass section this semester,” Cummings said, “so it’s fun for them to really show what they can do.” 

 HSU Symphonic Band performs on Friday December 5 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU in Arcata. Tickets are $8 general, $5 seniors and children, free to HSU students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Conducted by Paul Cummings, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: North Coast Journal, Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now

Symphonic Band:Conductor's Notes

Edited from interviews with conductor Paul Cummings

The Cowboys (1972) by John Williams

John Williams is a great film composer, as exemplified in this piece.  This is music for a movie called The Cowboys with John Wayne, arranged for band by Jim Curnow.  It's a very good arrangement, very challenging, probably the hardest piece we'll be playing, and the longest.

The music gives you a sense of the film's story--life on the ranch, the wide open plains, horses galloping, the cattle drive.  There are a couple of reflective passages that suggest night, with the cowboys sitting around the fire.  Mostly it's very exciting and very tuneful, as is all of John Williams' film music.


Second Suite for Military Band op 28 no. 2 by Gustav Holst 
 1. March: Morris Dance, Swansea Town, Claudy Banks
 2. Song Without Words: "I'll Love My Love"
 3. Song of the Blacksmith
4. Fantasia on the Dargason

We did part of this in our first concert this semester--now we're doing the entire suite. A unique feature of this performance is that we are going to include a small group of singers performing five or six of the folk songs that Holst used in composing the suite.  The idea is to give the audience a sense of what inspired him in writing this suite.

His First Suite for Military Band is sometimes referred to as a folk song type of suite but in fact it is not based on any real folk songs.  But in this Second Suite he used pre-existing sources: established folk songs familiar to everyone in 1911, when he wrote this piece.

This is considered one of the greatest band pieces ever. It’s also one of the earliest written expressly for wind band.

Variations on a Korean Folk Song (1965) by John Barnes Chance

This classic work is based on a very well-known Korean folk song, "Arirang."  John Barnes Chance didn't live long enough to write very much music, but he wrote several pieces that made significant contributions to the wind band repertoire: Incantations and Dance, Elegy and these variations.

This piece has several unique qualities.  Chance makes extensive use of percussion, and uses unusual percussion instruments, particularly the temple blocks.  They are prominently featured.  Even though the temple blocks do not have definite pitches, Chance treats the instrument like a melodic instrument.

These variations cast the original folk song in many different guises, sort of like a character being dressed up in several different costumes in the same play.  So we think we understand the tune when we hear the slow version of it played in the extreme low register by the clarinets at the beginning.  But we find it has a whole different character when lots of brass and percussion are involved, and the tempo gets very fast.  It's really a masterwork, and enjoyable to listen to because it has that unifying element of the folk song.

Shadow Rituals (2006) by Robert Markowski

This is a very exciting piece, and another one that uses an array of percussion.  This piece includes tam tam, suspended cymbals, slapstick, tambourines, bongos, glockenspiel, sleigh bells, cabasa, tom-tom, wind chimes, as well as snare drum and bass drum.  So he's really striving for lots of different colors and textures.

This is a prize-winning composition--it took first place in the Frank Ticheli Composition Contest.  Markowski is a very young composer, and surprisingly does not have a composition degree, does not even have a music degree, but he’s very facile writer, he understands how to write for the instruments.  He writes about this piece: "Shadow Rituals is rhythmic, energetic and challenges the performer to constantly stay engaged in the music.  This piece is a dark and mystical dance, a reflection of something primitive or ancient."

Night Dances (1995) by Bruce Yurko

This piece has a mysterious quality.  It eventually gets very fast and spirited--there's a marking used several times, con spirito, used for the fast-accented passages--but there are also some very reflective sections.  One of these is at the very beginning.  The music seems to grow out of nowhere, with only the percussion playing.  There are two tympani, tenor and bass drums and other, mostly mallet percussion that play this very mysterious kind of melody.  Then the woodwinds come in very softly, echoing the same melody initiated by the mallet instruments.

Then suddenly it's con spirito, very exciting passages featuring the brass.  We have a terrific brass section this semester, so it's fun for them to really show what they can do.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

                Bobolink: Tyler Martin, Alex Espe, Aaron Katz, Bret Johnson.

  Jazz Combos Accent Originals

 The accent is on originality as four Jazz Combos perform at HSU on Sunday November 16, but jazz classics aren’t neglected.

 All four members of the 12:00 Quartet—Trevor Kumec (guitar), Alan Spencer (tenor sax), Ryan Woempner (bass) and Eric Tolfa (drummer)-- contribute an original composition to their set.

 The quartet called Bobolink plays two originals along with “Seattle” by Avishai Cohen and a jazz rendition of the Beatles tune, “Because.” Tyler Martin plays alto sax, Alex Espe piano, Bret Johnson bass and Aaron Katz drums.

 Business Casual is the largest combo, with two saxophones, flute, violin, piano, guitar, bass, drums and percussion. They play originals by alto sax player Kyle McInnis, guitarist Kenneth Bozanich and violinist Michael Donovan, as well as “Mambo Inn” by famed Latin jazz trumpeter Mario Bauza.

 The 1:00 Quintet performs a classic Duke Ellington tune as well as “Kite” from the band Snarky Puppy and “The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers” by Steve Kuhn. Lauren Strella and Olivia Bright handle vocals. Strella also plays sax and clarinet, and Bright plays piano. Thatcher Holvick-Norton plays bass and Courtney Abajian drums.

 HSU Jazz Combos perform on Sunday November 16 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door: $8 general, $5 seniors and children, HSU students with ID admitted free. Directed by Dan Aldag, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: Humboldt State Now

Jazz Combos: The Program

The 12:00 Quartet 

Bumpas Hell by Trevor Kumec
Thoughts of Tomorrow by Alan Spencer
El Guapo by Ryan Woempner
11 1/2 by Eric Tolfa

 Business Casual

Party on Endor by Kyle McKinnis
Ain't Never Too Late by Kenneth Bozanich
Boogy Time by Michael Donovan
Mambo Inn by Mario Bauza for Machito and His Afro-Cubans

 The 1:00 Quintet

Kite by the band Snarky Puppy
Heaven by Duke Ellington from his Second Sacred Concert
The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers by Steven Kuhn

Bobolink

Seattle by Avishai Cohen
Because by Lennon-McCartney
two untitled originals by Alex Espe and Tyler Martin

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sail Away with Humboldt Bay Brass Band

 Sail away with the Humboldt Bay Brass Band in its 10th anniversary concert on November 15, featuring music with a watery theme, and a Veterans Day segment that includes an unusual version of the Star Spangled Banner. A splendid maritime is guaranteed for all! 

 The concert begins with three works featured in the very first HBBB performance in 2004: the British symphonic overture “Prelude for an Occasion” by Edward Gregson, and two watery-themed pieces, the lush “Moon River” and the lively “Fantasy on British Sea Songs.” 

 The band then performs one of its unique numbers: “Sunken Rock,” a lost 1865 piano composition commemorating the sinking of the coastal steamer Brother Jonathan off the coast of Crescent City, in HBBB director Gil Cline’s band arrangement. “It features the singing voice of our solo cornetist, Molly Harvis,” Cline said, “accompanied by a small brass band of the sort that would have been heard in that era.” 

 Along with Irish and British melodies, the concert includes several characteristically American works, some with a military theme to commemorate Veteran’s Day, highlighted by an unusual but historically based rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Using the original introduction and transition by composer John Stafford Smith, the band presents three seldom-heard verses by Francis Scott Key.

 Humboldt Bay Brass Band players are HSU advanced music students plus recent graduates, community musicians and music teachers. It is northwest California’s only all-brass band in the traditional British format. “One of our slogans is ‘25 brass plus three percussion equal sustained intensity,’” said director Cline. “And that equals ecstasy!” This is the band’s only HSU concert until next fall. 

The Humboldt Bay Brass Band performs on Saturday November 15 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door: $8 general, $5 seniors and children, HSU students with ID admitted free. Directed by Gilbert Cline, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: Mad River Union, North Coast Journal The Setlist, Humboldt State Now, Times-Standard Urge

HBBB: Program and Notes

Humboldt Bay Brass Band musicians in Fall 2014 (not in order pictured; click on photo to enlarge): on Cornet: Molly Harvis, Ari Davie, Ryan Brown, Matt Scott, Jesse Burns, Monica Dekat, Leon Hamilton, Melissa Gussin, Tom Cover, & Gary Ross; Fl├╝gelhorn: Lauren Strella; Tenor Horn: Matt Morgan, Anwyn Halliday, & Hannah Lambrecht; Baritone Horn: Toshi Noguchi & Chris Joe; Trombone: George Epperson, Matthew Brown, & Corey Tamondong; Euphonium: Phil Sams & Bret Johnson; Basses (Tubas): Audrey McCombs, Jerry Carter, Ryan Egan, & Charles Hollowell; Percussion: Grace Kerr, Nev Mattinson, Kevin Amos, & Niamh Mercer. Music Director & Conductor: Dr. Gilbert Cline; Assistant Conductor: Audrey McCombs.

Program
with notes by Gilbert Cline

 HBBB repeats the very first three concert works from our very first concert, of April 2, 2004. (and we thought it wouldn’t last!) Those three are:

 1- Prelude for an Occasion (1972) by Edward Gregson
 This is a British symphonic overture, with cornets and trombones sounding as if they were in the Chicago Symphony. The tones are 20th century vertical harmonies, including pyramids and polychords. After an classic overture-type slow beginning, the music really takes off -- even the basses getting to saw away at fast-moving 16th notes; timpani and the other percussion brighten the total effect.

 2- Moon River (1961) by Henry Mancini
 We’ve always enjoyed this arrangement of the film score, and the music is extremely tender and expressive. First heard in the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the theme and underlying chords are so very American -- for HBBB’s director, his earliest and most impressionable sounds of major- seven chords and flatted-fifths -- all under a completely gorgeous melody.

 3- Fantasy on British Sea Songs:traditional arranged by Gordon Langford
 This one begins as if on a genuine tall ship like a British Man ‘o War, with truly heroic sounds. The tunes in this music, essentially a medley, are classic, and even partly comical; the trombones shine in a distinctive interpretation of “Who’s Afraid of a Drunken Sailor?” (! not our trombonists!)

4- Sunken Rock (1865) by E. Russell / P. R. Nicholls, arranged by Gil Cline.    Here is a rarity, and “proprietary” so far to HBBB. Recorded on our 2005 CD, this arrangement is based on piano sheet music published in San Francisco composed to commemorate the tragic loss of life resulting from the sinking of the large coastal steamer Brother Jonathan which struck the sunken rocks of St. George Reef off the coast of Crescent City.

  The HBBB arrangement of the music, somewhat Gilbert & Sullivan in nature, features the singing voice of Miss Molly Harvis (HBBB’s solo cornetist), accompanied by a small brass band of the sort which would have been hear in San Francisco during that year, and includes an historic circa 1865 E-flat rotary valve cornet of the very type in use then. We also use an 1895 tuba (the “Bayside Bombardon”) once owned by Leonard Yocum, Humboldt County bandsman, County Supervisor, and one of the founders of HSU.

 5- O.R.B. (contest march) by Charles Anderson
 O.R.B. stands for Oldham Rifles Brigade, which existed in Manchester, England from the 1860s to perhaps the 1930s. A civilian band, they served local volunteer military units, regiments and battalions; the sense of national defense in a small island nation is strong beyond the belief of those in the United States. Anderson was one of the original directors of the band and is best known for this particular march, serving to this day as a required test piece contest march in the UK. Musically it is distinctive for the flurry of chromatic 16th notes heard at the very beginning, followed by a serious sounding melody in minor. We use the proper British stride-tempo of 112 beats per minute. Assistant conductor Audrey McCombs takes the baton for this one.

 6- Gaelforce (2000) by Peter Graham Quite popular with bands in Great Britain these days, this music uses folk tunes of the Irish type -- with a lilting, almost Riverdance effect. Included are “The Rocky Road to Dublin”, then “The Minstrel Boy,” and as a finale “Tossing the Feathers.” Featured along the way are the cornets as a section, and a very sweet trombone solo, a virtuoso euphonium solo -- along with force-of- a-Gale percussion.

7- Post Horn Galop (1928) by Koening
 In the band world, these are at “Quick Step” tempo--160 beats per minute! This  march is “The Post Horn Gallop,” the first time HBBB has performed this famous work. Genius in simplicity and concept (even Mozart wrote a “Posthorn Serenade”), the instrument intended is the straight, short, 30-inch posthorn. For this performance, Gil Cline has the privilege of playing “the Genuine Article,” on loan directly from London and trumpet-maker David Edwards, former trumpeter and soloist with the Queen’s Life Guard Band.

 8- Shenandoah (ca. 1870)  arranged by Matthew Morgan
 One of the great songs in Americana, the various lyrics and usages reference a variety of settings including not only the Shenandoah Valley but also the Missouri River, river boatmen, clipper ship sailors, westward-bound settlers, and even escaped slaves. In this arrangement, the melody is taken not only by tenor horn, but also by the combined HBBB bass and baritone elements.

The next works pertain to the Veterans Day and in recognition of those among us, as well as family members and others before us, who have served in the various branches of military service.

 9- Images for Brass (2001)by Stephen Bulla
 Excellent brass band writing is not confined to the UK only. American composer Stephen Bulla for almost 30 years has served as Chief Arranger for “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band and White House Orchestra. This particular work was written upon the 50th Anniversary of the very important, and deadly, World War II battle of Iwo Jima, a seaborne landing invasion of an island crucial to ending the war in the Pacific against Japan. According to the composer's notes, the four movements depict “the quiet anticipation before conflict, the arduous journey into the scene of the battle, a time of introspection and prayer (the hymn tune “Melita” is featured), and finally the hostile confrontation.”

 Taps (1864)
In recent years of research and performance on natural trumpet (baroque and renaissance trumpets), Professor Cline has come to the conclusion that what we term “bugle” is actually a natural trumpet which gradually became shorter and shorter for various reasons. Each year, an example from his personal, modest collection is employed for the playing of Taps; this year it’s an unmarked low F trumpet/bugle of the sort favored by cavalry units of the 1880s and also by John Philip Sousa.

 11- The Star Spangled Banner (1814 / 2014)
This presentation is the result of some research and some creative activity here at HSU. We know the words, so famously penned by Francis Scott Key; fewer know that the music is by John Stafford Smith. But how many people these days know, or have ever heard, all FOUR verses?! HBBB’s Director first saw them on a statue in Golden Gate Park. After some research at a band music archive in Minnesota and some further digging at the Smithsonian, it was decided to present the singing of three verses (in reverse order) so seldom heard, and based on the original 1814 published music.

 12- U.S. Service Songs. Arranged by Gilbert Cline.
We offer our custom arrangement of US Service Songs, with not only Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force, but also Coast Guard --and-- the forgotten personnel in harms way, the U.S. Merchant Marine. We invite audience members to elect the option to stand at the appropriate time (for the music of that particular branch of service) if you are a veteran, or if you are family, or even relative in any generation. We do this out of respect to the considerable sacrifices made in service.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Guitar Ensemble Goes South of the Border

Tunes from Cuba, Mexico and the Andes, accompanied by bass, conga and flute highlight the HSU Guitar Ensemble performance of Central and South American music on Friday November 14, with guest appearance by soprano Elisabeth Harrington.

 “Each piece on the program is coming from a different place,” said Guitar Ensemble director Nicholas Lambson. “Some are directly based on folk melodies, some are complex modern works. Some are aligned with Western European styles and some are improvisatory. Many combine these elements into unique pieces of music that represent a complex and intimate relationship with the guitar.”

 Guitar Ensemble performers are Kenneth Bozanich, Tyler Burkhart, Michael Carrasco, Sandee Castaneda, Nick Hart, Andrew Heavelin, Bryant Kellison, Jason Keyes, Erin Laetz, Leo Plummer and Ryan Woempner. 

 Elisabeth Harrington joins Heavelin on a selection by famed Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos.  Composers of other tunes on the program include Manuel Ponce (Mexico), Agustin Barrios Mangore (Paraguay), Guido Santorsola (Uruguay) and Leo Brouwer (Cuba.) 

 The HSU Guitar Ensemble performs on Friday November 14 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door: $8 general, $5 seniors and children, HSU students with ID admitted free.  Directed by Nicholas Lambson, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: Humboldt State Now

Guitar Ensemble Program & Notes


Performers (not in order pictured; click photo to enlarge): Kenneth Bozanich, Tyler Burkhart, Michael Carrasco, Sandee Castaneda, Nick Hart, Andrew Heavelin, Bryant Kellison, Jason Keyes, Erin Laetz, Leo Plummer, Ryan Woempner.  Special Guest: Elisabeth Harrington.


Program 

 Arrulladora mexicana by Manuel Ponce
 Danza Paraguaya – Agustin Barrios Mangore
 Two Andean Folk Songs – arranged by Jeremy Sparks
 Bachianas Brazilieras No.5 – Heitor Villa-Lobos
 Micropiezas – Leo Brouwer
 I Suite All’Antica – Guido Santorsola Minuetto
 Arietta Zapateado Caribe – Agustin Barrios
 Mangore Mambo Inn – Mario Bauza, Edgar Sampson, Bobby Woodlen
 Agua de Beber - Antonio Carlos Jobim

Notes by Nicholas Lambson

The HSU Guitar Ensemble will perform music from Central and South America on this concert, represented through works from Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, and Brazil. The program will include collaborations with students on bass, congas, and flute, and we are also excited to also be joined by Elisabeth Harrington, HSU professor of voice.

 Although most of the pieces on the program were written within the past few decades, versions of the guitar have been a major component of musical life there for hundreds of years. Much of this music does not survive, partly because a lot of it was improvised - guitarists tend to do a lot of that now also, so I guess not much has changed!

Heitor Villa-Lobos
The famous Brazilian composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos, frequently “jammed” with Brazilian street groups, called Choro bands. Paraguayan composer, Barrios Mangore, was also steeped in the improvisatory folk music of his country, and he would even perform in full traditional Guarini tribal dress. Luckily, they left us with fully composed music as well, which has the advantages of being able to clearly communicate what they intended, the works can often be more complex, and the pieces are generally repeatable.

 Each piece on the program is coming from a different place here: some are directly based on folk melodies, some are aligned with Western European styles, some are complex modern works, some are “improvisatory,” and many combine these into unique pieces of music that represent a complex and intimate relationship with the guitar.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Violinist Cindy Moyer Plays and Talks Bach 

 Violinist Cindy Moyer plays and talks about a Bach composition called “one of the greatest pieces of music ever written,” the Chaconne for solo violin, on Sunday November 9 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU.

 “I'll play the Chaconne, then talk about the historical background of the piece, the way the piece is constructed, and some of the performance decisions that I've made,” Moyer said, “and then I'll play it again.” 

 “The goal is to have the audience understand the piece better and thus to have them listen differently the second time. In addition, the piece is complex enough that a second time helps the listener grasp more of what is going on.” 

 The Chaconne is the final movement of the Partita in D minor for solo violin by J.S. Bach. “It is recognized as one of the monumental masterpieces of the violin repertoire,” Moyer said. “It’s profound, interesting in its construction, and very difficult to play.”

 “The setting for this concert will be unusually intimate,” Moyer notes. The audience will sit on the Fulkerson stage along with the performer.

 Cindy Moyer performs this lecture-recital on Sunday November 9 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall. Tickets are $10/$5 students and seniors, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door.  A Faculty Artist Series concert produced by HSU Music Department.

Bach's Chaconne: Quotes

Violinist Joshua Bell describes the Chaconne as "not just one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but one of the greatest achievements of any man in history. It's a spiritually powerful piece - emotionally powerful, structurally perfect."




Composer Johannes Brahms said of the piece: "The Chaconne is one of the most wonderful, incomprehensible pieces of music. On a single staff, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and the most powerful feelings. If I were to imagine how I might have made, conceived the piece, I know for certain that the overwhelming excitement and awe would have driven me mad."





According to violinist Yehudi Menuhin, the Chaconne is "the greatest structure for solo violin that exists."

Friday, November 07, 2014


Humorous and Heartfelt: Opera Workshop Does Musical Theatre

HSU Opera Workshop presents humorous and heartfelt solos, duets and group scenes from musical theatre for two performances, Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, November 7 and 8 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 “This semester’s Opera Workshop class has focused on the basic stagecraft skills involved in musical theater and opera—using voice and movement to create effective storytelling, ” said Elisabeth Harrington, director of the Workshop and HSU professor of music. 

 Workshop students present scenes and tunes from Les Miserables, South Pacific, Miss Saigon, Annie Get Your Gun and other classic and contemporary musicals. 

 There will also be scenes for and about children, including several from the children’s musical Annabelle Broom—the Unhappy Witch. In December the Opera Workshop will perform that complete show for elementary school students in Humboldt County. 

 Performers are Makenna Baker, Ana Ceja, Paige Crownover, Sean Laughlin, Stephanie Lemon, Cora Rickert, Alberto Rodriguez, Jessie Rawson and Kimberly Sarmiento. John Chernoff is the pianist. Catherine Brown designed costumes and Christopher Joe designed the lighting.

 HSU Opera Workshop performs Friday November 7 at 8 p.m. and Saturday November 8 at 4 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door: $8 general, $5 seniors and children, HSU students with ID admitted free.  Directed by Elisabeth Harrington, produced by HSU Music Department.

Opera Workshop: Notes and Program

 This semester’s Opera Workshop class has focused on the basic stagecraft skills involved in musical theater and opera: using voice and movement to create effective storytelling. The repertoire we present this evening features twelve different stories, ranging from solo scenes to full ensembles, and from the heartfelt to the petty, to the comic. We have included several scenes for and about children.

 In mid-November, the members of the Opera Workshop will travel to Oakland to present portions of our show for middle and high school students. And, in December, we will present performances of Annabelle Broom-The Unhappy Witch for elementary school students in Humboldt County.

 Please join us again in spring of 2015, when the Opera Workshop class will partner with HSU Symphony instrumentalists to present Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas in Gist Hall, conducted by Paul Cummings.

Singers: Makenna Baker, Ana Ceja, Paige Crownover, Sean Laughlin ,Stephanie Lemon, Cora Rickert,  Alberto Rodriguez, Jessie Rawson, Kimberly Sarmiento.

Director: Elisabeth Harrington
Pianist: John Chernoff
Costumes: Catherine Brown
Lighting: Christopher Joe

The Program

 “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Out-a My Hair” from South Pacific (Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein): All women singers

 “Pulled” from The Addams Family (Andrew Lippa): Makenna

 “Plant a Radish” from The Fantasticks (Tom Schmidt and Harvey Jones): Alberto and Sean

 “Turning Turning” from Les Miserables (Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil): All women

 “Kindergarten Love Song” (Drew Gasparini): Jessie

 “The Last Night of the World” from Miss Saigon (Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil): Kimberly and Sean

 “What is this Feeling?” from Wicked (Stephen Schwartz): Makenna and Stephanie

 “Who Will Love me as I Am?” from Side Show (Henry Krieger and Bill Russell): Cora and Jessie

“Anything You Can Do” from Annie Get Your Gun (Irving Berlin): Paige and Alberto

 “Swamps of Home” from Once Upon a Mattress (Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer): All Women, with special appearance as “Dauntless” by Sean.

 Scenes from Annabelle Broom-The Unhappy Witch (Eleanor and Ray Harder): Jessie and Alberto

 “Racing with the Clock” from The Pajama Game (Richard Adler and Jerry Ross): Full Company

Saturday, November 01, 2014

String Along with the Humboldt Symphony (and Guests)

 String along with the Humboldt Symphony string section and the Eureka High School String Orchestra in their shared concert with a combined finale on Saturday November 1 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 After the Eureka High players perform the first half of the concert, the Humboldt Symphony offers excerpts from three pieces for string orchestra. “Featuring our string section only is very unusual for us,” notes conductor Paul Cummings.

 “From Holberg’s Time” by 19th century Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg “is a famous work,” Cumming said. “In typical Grieg style, there is always something melodic happening. Melody really drives his music.”

 Grieg wrote this suite for strings to commemorate the bicentennial of Ludvig Holberg, a writer credited with pioneering modern Norwegian and Danish literature in the early 18th century.

 The Symphony also performs several movements of the best-known work for strings by Italian Baroque composer Archangelo Corelli, and a distinctly modern work by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Karel Husa. 

 “We’ll play the first movement of the Husa, which is a set of highly contrasting variations,” Cummings said. “Some are very tonal, very singable and others are abstract, so you may be surprised that the same composer could have written all of them. It’s really good music by a good composer.” 

 The combined concert ends with a collaboration by both string ensembles.

 The Humboldt Symphony and Eureka High School String Orchestra perform on Saturday November 1 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU in Arcata. Tickets are $8 general, $5 seniors and children, and free to HSU students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Concert produced by HSU Music Department.

Humboldt Symphony November 1 Concert: Director's Notes

Excerpted from an interview with Paul Cummings

"We are we are collaborating with the Eureka High School String Orchestra. The high school students will perform the first part of the concert, we’ll do the second with Humboldt Symphony strings only, then some music combined with both groups.

 Featuring just the string section only is very unusual for us. In our portion of the concert we’ll perform excerpts from three pieces for string orchestra. Then in December we’ll play the complete works."

 Archangelo Corelli: Concerto Grosso #8

"Corelli is one of the great mid-Baroque period composers at the end of the 17th century. He was mainly active in Rome. This piece is probably his best- known work for strings. It might sound familiar from parts of it heard during the holiday season.

 Corelli wrote quite a few pieces in this form of the concerto grosso, which features two main groups: the concertino group, which is a group of soloists, and the ripeno, which is everybody else. In most cases the concertino group is two violins and one cello.

 The concerto grosso is an historical form that was very important in the Baroque period. Most composers of the time wrote music in this form. It was the earliest form of what later became known simply as the concerto, with one soloist accompanied by the orchestra.

 In this piece the concertino group plays for awhile, then the ripeno comes in. Sometimes they play together, sometimes separately. We’ll be playing this piece with harpsichord and strings. It’s a chance to feature the stronger players as part of the concertino group. We’re going to feature three different soloists in each concert in November and December, so more of our students get the opportunity to experience the solo role without the music being really long, as in a nineteenth century concerto, or really really difficult."

 Karel Husa: Four Little Pieces (Vier kleine Stucke) 1955 

" From mid-Baroque we jump over 250 years to a contemporary piece. Karel Husa was born in 1921 in Czechoslovakia. He emigrated to the United States and began teaching at Cornell University in 1954. He published this work the next year.

This work is about as far removed from Archangelo Corelli as one can imagine. Husa uses modern harmonic language including atonal passages. There are two movements in this work that are atonal, meaning that there is no key center to the music.

 In this concert we’ll be playing the first movement, which is a set of variations. They are highly contrasted—some are very tonal, very singable, and others are harsh and abstract, so you find yourself surprised that the same composer could have written all of them. It’s really good music by a good composer."

 Edvard Grieg: From Holberg’s Time, Suite for Strings op. 40 #168 

 "This is a very famous work. In typical Grieg style, there is always something melodic happening. In the same vein as Franz Schubert, melody really drives his music. That’s very apparent in this piece, where there’s always melodic material that’s the basis of the development of the music.

 Grieg is considered Norway’s greatest composer. He wrote this in 1884 to honor Ludvig Holberg, a writer of the early 18th century who is considered the founder of modern Norwegian and Danish literature. He was called “the Moliere of Scandanavia.” So Grieg is capturing the spirit embodied in his literature and that earlier time. We’ll do two or three of the five movements this time, and the complete suite in December."

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Jazz Orchestra and Symphonic Band Share A Homecoming Concert 

HSU Jazz Orchestra pays tribute to legendary composer and pianist Horace Silver, and the Symphonic Band plays lesser-known gems by classic 20th century composers in their shared concert on Saturday October 4 in Fulkerson Recital Hall. 

 Horace Silver, says Jazz Orchestra director Dan Aldag, “is one of the most influential composers in jazz history.” Many of his tunes are jazz standards, and the orchestra is playing seven of them.

 Silver’s status as a hard-bop pioneer is represented by “Sister Sadie,” “Filthy McNasty” and other tunes. “Nutville” and “Nica’s Dream” showcase his Latin rhythms. Silver also wrote beautiful ballads, particularly one on this program: “Peace.” 

 Silver’s very detailed works for small ensembles are easily adaptable to big band, Aldag said. “Fans of Silver’s original recordings will hear much that is familiar in the arrangements we’re playing.” 

 In their half of this shared concert, the HSU Symphonic Band performs shorter works by 20th century composers George Gershwin, R. Vaughan Williams and Alberto Ginastera, as well as Gustav Holst’s complete Second Suite for Military Band.

 George Gershwin’s second prelude has his characteristic jazz-inflected style, said Symphonic Band director Paul Cummings. “If listeners find it similar to Rhapsody in Blue, it’s no mistake.”

 “Sea Songs” is a march in the slower British style by Vaughan Williams, part of his English Folk Song Suite, which is “probably his best known work for wind band. It’s very tuneful music and fun to play.” 

“Danza Final” by Alberto Ginasera by contrast is very rhythmic and energetic. “It’s a rousing, exciting number.”

Holst’s second suite is also partly based on folk melodies. The most famous of the four movements is the rhythmic “Song of the Blacksmith.” “This is one of the earliest works written for wind band,” Cummings noted, “and it is considered one of the best band pieces ever.” 


HSU Jazz Orchestra and Symphonic Band perform on Saturday October 4 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus. Tickets are $8, $5 seniors and children, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Produced by HSU Music department.

Media: Eureka Times-Standard Urge, HSU Now

Jazz Orchestra: Director's Notes

The Jazz Orchestra is paying tribute to the legendary composer and pianist Horace Silver on our half of the October 4 concert. Silver passed away in June at the age of 85. He is one of the most influential composers in jazz history, having written a number of tunes that have become jazz standards, including the seven we will be playing: "Sister Sadie", "Nutville", "Song For My Father", "Filthy McNasty", "The Jody Grind", "Nica's Dream" and "Peace."

Silver was one of the originators of the hard bop style of jazz, which was distinguished in part by an earthiness that came from blues and gospel influences. This side of Silver's personality will be represented by "Sister Sadie", "Filthy McNasty", and "The Jody Grind."

Silver also made frequent use of Latin rhythms, particularly bossa nova, and this is heard in "Nutville", "Song For My Father", and "Nica's Dream". While not as well-known for it, Silver also wrote beautiful ballads, and "Peace" is probably the best-known of those.

 While Silver wrote almost exclusively for quintet or sextet, his compositions are filled with the kinds of details usually encountered in compositions for much bigger ensembles, so they're easily adaptable for big band, and fans of Silver's original recordings will hear much that's familiar in the arrangements were playing, which include the work of Cecil Bridgewater, John LaBarbera, John Clayton, David Berger, Ian McDougall, Dave Eshelman and Frank Mantooth.

--Dan Aldag

Symphonic Band: Director's Notes

From an interview with Symphonic Band director Paul Cummings

The pieces we are doing aren’t the best or the best known by these composers. Their best work is in forms other than for wind band. Still, this music is of high artistic merit. Some of these pieces are very short, but there is an art to composing a well-crafted piece that only last three minutes, and we have a couple of those.

 Sea Songs by R. Vaughan Williams


This was the second movement of Williams’ English Folk Song Suite for wind ensemble from 1923, probably his best-known work for wind. But these days this is usually performed as a self-contained composition. It’s a simple march setting in the British style, with a tempo that’s slower than American marches.

 The folk songs that Williams quotes drive the melodic interest. Some of the songs are “Admiral Benboe,” “Princess Royal” and “Portsmouth.” It’s fun to play and very tuneful music to hear.




Second Prelude by George Gershwin. Arranged by John Krance. 

 This is the second of his three piano preludes, arranged for wind band by John Krance, one of the better known arrangers. He did a good job with this piece—it translates pretty well to wind band. As far as I know this is the only one of the three that has been arranged for band.

 This is the slow movement with a very strong blues feel to it. It certainly has the Gershwin style, the jazz-inflected writing of the 1920s and 30s. If listeners find it similar to Rhapsody in Blue, it’s no mistake. It’s a three minute piece with trumpet and alto sax solos.

 Second Suite for Military Band op 28 no. 2 by Gustav Holst 
 1. March: Morris Dance, Swansea Town, Claudy Banks
 2. Song Without Words: "I'll Love My Love"
 3. Song of the Blacksmith
4. Fantasia on the Dargason

 This is considered one of the greatest band pieces ever. It’s also one of the earliest written expressly for wind band, in 1911. It’s very similar in style to his first suite of 1909: four movements—a march, then the Song Without Words which is based on a shepherd’s mournful song, played on clarinet.

 The Song of the Blacksmith is the famous movement. It evokes the blacksmith’s shop with sudden, sharp striking blows of the hammer on the anvil—a very rhythmic piece. There’s a melody but the emphasis is on the very pronounced rhythm.

 The fourth movement uses the melody of the English folk song “Greensleeves” in combination with other melodies. It demonstrates Holst’s craftsmanship as a young composer, in his ability to combine different thematic material.


Danza Final (Estancia) by Alberto Ginastera Arranged by David John 

 This is the last movement of a suite of dances that Ginastera pulled from his ballet, Estancia. Originally composed for orchestra, it’s been transcribed for band. Estancia is set in the open plains of Argentina, where the gauchos live on rancherias. The ballet has a love story. This final movement is a frenetic dance with a delirious quality—they are dancing so fast and so long that it’s intoxicating. This is part of the ritual of this Argentine gaucho lifestyle. We might think of it as an Argentine version of an American barn dance of 1880s Pennsylvania.

 There’s a very simple structure, very repetitive. It’s all about the dancing and the energy. It’s because of the unrelenting repetition and the very fast tempo that it is very difficult to play. But it’s a rousing, exciting number, and that’s our closer.