Friday, February 29, 2008

Joanne Rand. Photo by Michelle Cohen.
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Composers Concert

Singer Joanne Rand, pursuing a music degree at HSU, will perform two of her compositions, and HSU students and faculty will perform works by three other student composers in the annual Composers Concert on Friday, February 29 at 8 PM in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $7 general, $3 students/seniors, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Free to HSU students with ID.
Joanne Rand Among Student Composers in HSU Concert

Joanne Rand is well known as a singer-songwriter and recording artist, especially in California and the Pacific Northwest. What is less well known is that she is currently pursuing a degree in the Music Department at Humboldt State University.

As a student in the composition program, Joanne Rand will perform two of the songs she’s written as part of the annual Composers Concert at HSU on Friday, February 29.

HSU faculty and students will also perform compositions by three other HSU students.

Pianist and faculty member Ching Ming Cheng will play a sonata by Dustin Littlefield, a student ensemble will perform a chamber work by Joe Morf called “Trail to the Top,” and a chamber group will play a work for brass quintet by Mark Jensen.

Joanne Rand will sing and play guitar on her song, “Into the Wild.” She will be joined by vocalists Melody Walker and Lorenza Simmons for “Broken Open,” an arrangement of songs written as prayers.

“This concert promises to provide a unique and eclectic blend of compositional styles and instrumentation,” said J. Brian Post, HSU Music professor who teaches composition. “These works contain influences from African rhythms and American folk music, as well as from European art music from Mozart’s time to the present.”

The Composers Concert begins at 8 PM on Friday, February 29 in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $7, $3 seniors and non-HSU students, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Free to HSU students with ID.

Additional information on Joanne Rand can be found at Joanne

Media: Humboldt State Now.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

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Symphonic Band & Jazz Orchestra

HSU SYMPHONIC BAND performs Gilmore's Five Folk Songs with soprano Elisabeth Harrington, and the HSU JAZZ ORCHESTRA plays Benny Carter’s Kansas City Suite, on Saturday, February 23 at 8 PM in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $7 general, $3 students/seniors, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Free to HSU students with ID.
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From “First Suite” to “Kansas City Suite” with the HSU Symphonic Band and the Jazz Orchestra

The HSU Symphonic Band performs three works with an international flavor while the HSU Jazz Orchestra plays an epic work of American jazz in their joint concert on Saturday, February 23 in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at Humboldt State University.

Singer Elisabeth Harrington will join the Symphonic Band in Bernard Gilmore’s “Five Folk Songs” for soprano voice and wind instruments. Inspired by such folk artists as Theodore Bikel and the Limelighters, this work features passages sung in five languages: an Irish dialect, English, Greek, Spanish and Yiddish. According to Paul Cummings, the Symphonic Band director, Gilmore’s work is characterized by its “judicious balance of voice and instruments.”

The Symphonic Band plays two other selections: early twentieth century English composer Gustav Holst’s “First Suite,” which Cummings said “is considered to be one of the earliest masterworks for wind band,” and “the Florentiner March” by Hungarian composer Julius Fucik. Of European marches now played in America, this march in the grand Italian style “is one of the most beloved,” Cummings said.

For their half of the program, the HSU Jazz Orchestra performs a single work: “Kansas City Suite” by Benny Carter. According to Jazz Orchestra director Dan Aldag, Carter was “one of the principal architects of the Big Band sound” of the 1930s and 1940s. A skilled performer on alto saxophone and other instruments, he was a mentor to many modern jazz musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. “He spent close to thirty years as one of the major film and television composers and paved the way for other African-American composers in Hollywood,” Aldag said. Carter was a Kennedy Center honoree in 1996 and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000.

“Kansas City Suite” features trumpet solos by every member of the Jazz Orchestra’s trumpet section: Ari Davie, Tristan Kadish, Krystal Moore, Chisana White and Karolyn Wyneken. Other soloists include trombonists Melissa Gussin, Leah Jmaeff and Talon Nansel; saxophonists Sky Miller and Leo Echazabel, and pianist Jeff Kroeger.

The combined concert of the HSU Symphonic Band and the Jazz Orchestra begins at 8 PM on Saturday, February 23 in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $7 general, $3 students/seniors, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Free to HSU students with ID.
Paul Cummings: Director's Notes for Symphonic Band

The First Suite in Eb was composed by Gustav Holst in 1909. Along with his Second Suite in F, as well as the English Folk Song Suite by Holst's British contemporary, Ralph Vaughan Williams, the First Suite is considered to be one of the earliest masterworks for wind band. It embodies many of the attributes of British compositional style prevalent in the early decades of the 20th century, including clear formal structure, idiomatic writing for the winds, and a fondness for folk song style.

However, it is interesting to note that the rich melodic writing in the work is entirely original; that is, Holst did not borrow material from any extant folk songs. The fact that your ear may associate the music with folk songs may be attributed to Holst's close affinity for the style of indigenous British music, including his mastery of modal counterpoint.

While Holst is known as a thoroughly English composer, his family roots lay elsewhere. His father hailed from Germany, and the family name was von Holst until the outbreak of World War I when the composer decided that a German surname might have pejorative connotations in a time of war. It is not surprising, therefore, to find strong evidence of Germanic compositional elements in the First Suite. The best example of this is in the opening tune, an eight-measure ground bass that repeats 16 times in the first movement. This tune serves as the raw material, or melodic germ, from which virtually every other melodic idea is derived, not only in the first movement but also in movements two and three. Holst was familiar with the German practice of spinning out melodies from an initial melodic germ through his study of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Bernard Gilmore's Five Folk Songs for soprano and winds was composed in 1967 for the annual conference of the College Band Directors National Association. According to the program notes in the conductor's score, "it was inspired by folk recordings of Theodore Bikel and groups like The Limelighters." The work is one of the few pieces in the repertoire to exploit the combination of soprano voice with wind and percussion instruments. Obviously, there is a danger of overpowering the voice with the band's characteristically powerful sound, so it is easy to see why composers have avoided this merger. Much of the craft of Gilmore's work, therefore, lies in his judicious balance of voice and instruments. Rarely are all musicians performing at once, yet there is sufficient variety of dynamics and textures to create interest.

The work contains five movements, each of which is in a different language. This polyglot amalgam actually has roots in the Medieval era when composers would sometimes combine texts of two or more languages in the same motet. But the use of a multilingual text did not find its way into the mainstream of 19th or 20th century music, and it certainly imbues the Five Folk Songs with a maverick spirit. In order, the songs are in an Irish dialect, English, Greek, Spanish, and Yiddish. From the bouncy lyricism of the opening Irish tune, "Mrs. McGrath," to the playful, at times fitful, stops and starts of the final movement, "A Fidler," Gilmore's work is an aesthetic joy.

Of the many European marches that have found their way across the pond, Julius Fucik's Florentiner March is one of the most beloved. Composed in the "grande marcia Italiana" style, it captures the spirit of Italian opera while maintaining the simplicity and directness of expression typical of the genre. The eminent American conductor and champion of marches of all countries, Frederick Fennell, points out that Fucik's career as a military bandmaster was complemented by his skill as a composer of marches, which were the popular music of the time. And with Nationalism exerting such a powerful influence throughout Europe in the 19th century, it was quite natural for Fucik to join the many composers who were filling this niche of the musical marketplace. "Thus it is not surprising," Fennell states, "to find a Hungarian writing an Italian grand march and out-doing many Italians in the process!"

Paul Cummings conducts the HSU Symphonic Band, and the Humboldt Symphony. He is Assistant Professor of Music at HSU, and holds a California life credential in music. He is also an active performer on clarinet and saxophone, appearing with the Nova Vista Symphony, the Oregon Wind Ensemble, and the Master Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra. He is coordinator of the HSU music education program.
Dan Aldag: Director's Notes for Jazz Orchestra

We're playing the complete "Kansas City Suite" by Benny Carter, written for and recorded by the Count Basie Orchestra in 1960. It is a ten-song suite celebrating the city that the original Count Basie Orchestra emerged from in 1936.

Kansas City in the 1920s and 1930s was still a bit of a wild west town,with the emphasis on "wild". The city was run by the corrupt Democraticmachine of Tom Pendergast, which allowed gambling and alcohol to flourish despite Prohibition. The town's many clubs featured musicians engaged inall-night (and on into the morning) jam sessions. Two of those clubs are celebrated in the Suite's "Paseo Promenade" and "Rompin' At The Reno."Both of those clubs and many others were in the 18th and Vine neighborhood, remembered in "Vine St. Rumble".

Kansas City was more thanjust all-night speakeasies, though. Some of its other features are evoked in the summer-fair joy of "Jackson County Jubilee", the church service reminiscence "Meetin' Time" and "Sunset Glow". Women, both in general andspecifically, are celebrated in "Miss Missouri", "The Wiggle Walk" and"Katy Do", the latter named in honor of Basie's wife Katherine, a former dancer who met Basie while working opposite his band at Kansas City's ClubHarlem.

KC's wide-open atmosphere allowed music to flourish, and many of jazz's greatest musicians came from or spent significant time in KansasCity during the 1920s and 1930s. This heritage is celebrated in "Blue Five Jive", named after one of Basie's early groups, "Count Basie's Blue Five."

The composer of "Kansas City Suite", Benny Carter, is one jazz's most significant, if undercelebrated figures. A seminal alto saxophonist, he also excelled on the trumpet and occasionally performed on tenor sax,clarinet, trombone and piano. He was one of the principal architects of the big band sound through his arrangements for the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra and McKinney's Cotton Pickers in the early 1930s, but wasn't around when that sound exploded in popularity a few years later, having emigrated to Europe, where he did much to spread jazz to England, France,Scandinavia and the Netherlands.

When he returned to the States, he provided important early professional opportunities for such modern jazz musicians as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, Kenny Clarke andMax Roach. He spent close to thirty years as one of the major film and television composers and paved the way for other African-American composers in Hollywood, as well as helping to integrate the Los Angeles Musicians' Union. He remained a vital performer into his 90s and received the Kennedy Center Honor in 1996. He passed away in 2003 at the age of 96.

Performing the "Kansas City Suite" allows the Jazz Orchestra to feature anumber of soloists, including the entire trumpet section of Ari Davie,Tristan Kadish, Krystal Moore, Chisana White and Karolyn Wyneken,trombonists Melissa Gussin, Leah Jmaeff and Talon Nansel, saxophonists SkyMiller and Leo Echazabel and pianist Jeff Kroeger.

The HSU Jazz Orchestra is conducted by Dan Aldag, Assistant Professor of Music at HSU. He is also a performer as trombonist with classical orchestras and jazz ensembles, having played with Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams and the Manhattan Transfer, and as a soloist specializing in contemporary music for the trombone. His compositions for trombone and jazz band have been performed throughout the United States and Europe, and recorded on the Seabreeze Vista label.