Saturday, November 15, 2014

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.

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.

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