Saturday, February 26, 2011


Kenneth Ayoob on the Symphonic Band program:

Molly on the Shore by Percy Grainger

Molly on the Shore is a composition of Percy Aldridge Grainger. It is an arrangement of two contrasting Irish reels, "Temple Hill" and "Molly on the Shore" that present the melodies in a variety of textures and orchestrations, giving each section of the band long stretches of thematic and countermelodic material. "Molly on the Shore" was written in 1907 by Grainger as a birthday gift for his mother. Originally composed for string quartet or string orchestra, this piece was arranged in 1920 for wind band by the composer, as well as for orchestra.

Grainger said in a letter that "in setting Molly on the Shore, I strove to imbue the accompanying parts that made up the harmonic texture with a melodic character not too unlike that of the underlying reel tune. Melody seems to me to provide music with initiative, wheras {sic} rhythm appears to me to exert an enslaving influence. For that reason I have tried to avoid regular rhythmic domination in my music - always excepting irregular rhythms, such as those of Gregorian Chant, which seem to me to make for freedom. Equally with melody, I prize discordant harmony, because of the emotional and compassionate sway it exerts".

"Molly on the Shore" mostly features the woodwind section of the band, especially the clarinets and saxophones.

Havendance by David Holsinger

This overture was written by American composer and conductor David R. Holsinger for his daughter, Haven. Its driving rhythms are a reflection of the energy of an 8-year-old, who loved to dance and twirl around the house and dreamed of becoming a ballerina. Although the work evolves through a variety of meters, constantly shifting accents and several changes of tempo and mood, the intensity never lets up.

Paris Sketches – Homages for Band by Martin Ellerby
This four movement work is a tribute by the composer to a city he loves, as well as other composers who have been associated with one or more quarters of the historic French capital. A unifying theme of bells runs through the score.

Elegy for English Horn and Band by Jack Stamp
Elegy was commissioned by Kenneth Ayoob and the Northeastern University Band with Virginia Ryder as English Horn soloist in 1988 in memory of Dr. Ayoob’s father. It is solemn and powerful, showing off the timbre of the English Horn.

Dan Aldag on the Jazz Orchestra program:

We'll be playing "E's Flat, Ah's Flat, Too" by Charles Mingus, "Moten Swing", a very old tune first recorded by Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra in 1932 and two compositions by the British composer Graham Collier, "Ryoanji" and "Under The Pier."

What all of these pieces have in common is that they give the performers a level of control over the music rare in big band jazz. "E's Flat" consists of 5 different melodies or riffs which the band has created an arrangement from in rehearsal. With "Moten Swing", the band is starting with the arrangement that Ernie Wilkins wrote for the Count Basie band in the 1950s, but we've altered it in rehearsal and some elements will be improvised during the performance. The Collier pieces give the players a great deal of latitude, so each performance of them can sound quite different. What we're after is much the same kind of flexibility that a small jazz group can have.

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