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anti-FANFARE | ANDREW BLAIR

The inspiration for (anti-)FANFARE came during a lesson with Cynthia Johnston Turner where we were studying works for winds and percussion with atypical instrumentation. At the end of the lesson, we concluded that there was a gap in the repertoire for a short, exciting concert opener for woodwinds and percussion. I was particularly inspired by her “commission” that day: “You should write one, you know, an anti-fanfare.”

(anti-)Fanfare opens with a typical fanfare motive, but listeners will notice that the similarities end there. The piece employs the full complement of the woodwind and percussion sections (plus piano) in contrast to centuries of brass/orchestral fanfares. The typical stately cadence has been replaced by a quick ¾ meter, with the language of the piece inspired by the composer’s forays into contemporary jazz fusion and electronica. All of this, while giving the brass a well-deserved break.

The piece was premiered by the University of Georgia Hodgson Wind Ensemble in January 2020, with the composer conducting.

- Program Note by composer

Song for Ursa | KATAHJ COPLEY

Ursa Major and the Ursa Minor are well-known, significant constellations in many cultures. Their literal meanings are Big Bear and Little Bear. They are two of the oldest constellations in the sky, with a history dating back to ancient times. The constellations are referenced in Homer and the Bible.

This brass ensemble pieces represents the ethereal creation of both the constellations. The piece begins with a duet from the horn and euphonium, representing the awakening of the two constellations. As the piece continues the colors and sounds begin to grow and fill the space, literally and figuratively, until finally the burst of energy creates the constellations at their brightest moments. The piece ends with their stars shimmering as the listener returns to earth and gets farther away from the constellations.

 

- Program Note from publisher

The Governor's Own March | ALTON ADAMS

Based on the bugle call to attention, the trumpets’ snappy opening four-note motif announces the beginning of the march and serves to call listeners in preparation for the arrival of the Virgin Islands’ governor. The principal theme of the march was inspired by its original dedicatee, Admiral Joseph Wallace Oman, naval governor of the Virgin Islands from 1919 to 1921. The melody seems to depict the governor who Adams described as a “short, jaunty, snappy sort of fellow” while it similarly echoes the energetic themes of Sousa’s “King Cotton” or “Manhattan Beach.”

 

Adams felt that Sousa’s music perfectly captured the “spirit of militant vigor and courage” emblematic of the march. As a boy, Adams had imagined himself conducting Sousa’s band while listening secretly to phonograph records outside a neighbor’s home. He studied composition and orchestration in part by copying the individual parts to Sousa’s marches into full score. (At the time, conductor’s scores were provided only in abbreviated short score formats.) Originally known as “Governor Oman,” the march was renamed “The Governor’s Own” in time for its initial publication with Carl Fisher in 1922. Acknowledged as one of Adams’s best compositions, “The Governor’s Own” was among the top four best selling marches for Carl Fisher in 1924 and became the official commencement march of Howard University.

 

In 1963, Adams rededicated the march to the people of the Virgin Islands and its status as music for government occasions on the islands was recognized by the legislature. It is the official march of the islands’ governors, akin to “Hail to the Chief” for the U.S. President, although Adams’s piece may be freely performed on occasions when the governor is not present.

Alton Augustus Adams, Sr. (November 4, 1889 – November 23, 1987) is remembered primarily as the first black bandmaster in the United States Navy (beginning 1917). 

All the Things You Are | ALTON ADAMS

"All the Things You Are" is a song composed by Jerome Kern with lyrics written by Oscar Hammerstein II. The song was written for the musical Very Warm for May (1939) and was introduced by Hiram ShermanFrances MercerHollace Shaw, and Ralph Stuart. It appeared in the film Broadway Rhythm (1944) when it was sung by Ginny Simms, and again in the Kern biopic Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), sung by Tony Martin.

Popular recordings of the song in 1940 were by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra (vocal by Jack Leonard), Artie Shaw and His Orchestra (vocal by Helen Forrest) and Frankie Masters and His Orchestra (vocal by Harlan Rogers). The song has been recorded by a plethora of artists.

Mike Tomaro has penned a Latin style version that shows his total command of the idiom shines through in this superb chart.

All the Things I'm Not | AARON PERRINE

While many people don’t realize it, jazz was some of the first music I ever composed. For years, in fact, it was my one and only love. One of my favorite tunes during that time was All the Things You Are. If you are familiar with the song, you likely know its opening interval is an ascending perfect fourth. In turn, my composition utilizes and expands upon the same interval, using the original idea as the basis for a new piece. All the Things I’m Not is a playful and affectionate nod to this famous jazz standard.

out of a mountain of despair | Erica Malpass

The composer writes:

 

This piece was written in response to poetry by Mac Gimse, written for the 51st anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I recognize that I am not a part of King's marginalized community, and that I have approached this process from a place of privilege. In no way do I attempt to speak for any marginalized peoples. Rather I merely aim to reflect, respond, and honor Dr. King with my music.

The piece begins, as the poem does, with a depiction of a storm. I used extended techniques and a freer notation system to create an organic yet intense beginning. After the storm reaches its climax, it fades away, opening the space for the next section which mirrors the second stanza of the poem. Here I focused on words like "stir," "nurtured," and "grow." There's a melody line in the soprano saxophone which is blurred and echoed by the flutes and clarinets. This softer, more distant moment creates the space to process the intensity and violent chaos that has just occurred. The music starts to gain momentum and other instruments join in, creating a composite melody line that extends up and up, reaching ever higher, searching for an answer.

The third stanza of the poem quotes King's "I Have a Dream," using it as a foundation on which to build a better world for the future. It looks back on the Civil Rights movement and everything that was accomplished for King's marginalized community in his lifetime. It is comforting to look back at this speech and the early Civil Rights movement, as Rachel L. Swarns mentions when reflecting on the 50th anniversary of King's assassination, because "holding on to the memory of the earlier Dr. King allows us to focus on our nation's progress, not on the deeply entrenched problems that remain." I struggled with the second half of Gimse's poem; his words shine with optimism and hope that we can and will build a better world. But it has been fifty years since King's assassination, and even as an outsider from his marginalized community, I can see that King's goals have not yet been fully realized. As an ally, I see us quote King's call to peace but then fail to act when it really matters. We turn a blind eye to the systematic inequality we all create through our inaction, quietly supporting the institutions that maintain our privilege and marginalize others. When you read some of his later speeches, you'll notice that all of the issues he was raising remain relevant and unsolved today. With the second half of my piece, I hope to convey that we should continue to honor and remember Dr. King, but that we can't truly honor him without continuing his work.

The poet writes:

The significance of the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been stirring in my heart for decades while I have been trying to grasp the impact of racial issues from the time of the Black African migration into the USA, to current eruptions of racial violence, including recent racial tensions on the St. Olaf campus. Today's poetry began with notes from my historical view of the tragic Black cultural reality, which, as you will hear, reaches into a host of social and political struggles, each of them met and challenged by MLK Jr.'s practice of non-violent civil disobedience. It is based on his four words: Justice, Democracy, Love, and Hope. Justice is framed in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Democracy in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Both of these were strongly influenced by the protests organized by MLK Jr. Love is witnessed in his passion as a pastor for those who suffer, even as he was being crucified. And Hope is written in his vision for a better world in the award of his Nobel Peace Prize.

"A Stone of Hope"
Poetry for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Mac Gimse
A tribute on the 51st anniversary of his death (April 4, 1968)
Music composed by senior music major, Erika Malpass, for the St. Olaf Band
Quotes from MLK Jr. "I Have a Dream" speech (August 28, 1963, Washington D.C.)

Hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."
You begin me wind, the trees mime your gallop as you race across
the crouching hillside, gathering into great thunderheads of power,
to send lightning-grabs of pent up torrents crashing down
into the chaos of my unsuspecting world, to crush my
arm-in-arm march to be free at last, and
violate my innermost sacred chamber
...without my permission.

Hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."
Ah wind.. .you stir the waters with Holy Spirit sounds
to breach wombs of readiness, that will deliver children of mercy
to be nurtured by us, to grow in wisdom and strength, and lead us onto
common ground, where soils are saturated by every mix of human blood,
and soaked down by human tears, that we might learn to sow
our seeds of peace into fields of a gentler faith
...asking the God of all religions for permission.

Hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."
We lean against our moral obligations to friend and foe alike,
bracing up each bridge of passage that pushes us to our most urgent quest.
"I have a dream." Upon this rock we will create love, not hatred.
"I have a dream today." Upon this rock we will offer mercy, not revenge.
"I have a dream that one day" Upon this rock we will build peace, not war,
upon war, upon brutal war, until together, as one human flesh,
we pronounce a verdict of mutual respect between the powerful
and the powerless, for all future generations to follow,
...making peace their only permission.

Hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."
Somewhere in the vastness of our separations we hear voices crying
out to steady the trembling foundations of our fragile homeland;
to set down our weeping weapons on screaming streets of rage;
to circle our sanctuary against the sting of ethnic cleansing; to bind up
wounds laid bare by warring creeds; to tame, to calm, to quiet the loudly
angry crowd in order to hear our freedoms ring. Then lift up our next born
"as a joyous daybreak to end the long night" and from the mountain top,
looking into the promised land, where every life matters, we will
"Hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."
...using all humanity's permission.

- Program Note from St. Olaf Band concert program, 7 April 2019

Russian Christmas Music | Alfred Reed

The composer writes:

Originally written in November 1944, Russian Christmas Music was first performed in December of that year at a special concert in Denver, Colorado, by a select group of musicians from five of the leading service bands stationed in that area. Two years later the music was revised and somewhat enlarged, and in that form was one of the three prize-winning works in the 1947 Columbia University contest for new serious music for symphonic band.

 

First performances of this second version subsequently took place in 1948: the first by the Juilliard Band under Donald I. Moore, and the second by the Syracuse University Symphonic Band under Harwood Simmons, to whom the work was dedicated. Since then this music, although not previously published, has remained in the repertory of the concert band consistently and has established the composer as one of the most important writers for the contemporary band or wind ensemble.

This published edition represents a thorough revision of the entire work by the composer in keeping with the developing instrumentation of the serious band or wind ensemble. It incorporates all of the many changes that have taken place in this area during the past years. Although the music is essentially the same, the instrumentation has been completely reworked throughout to achieve even greater clarity of texture and the utmost sonority possible. Thus we attain a degree of differentiation in the brass choirs that has come to be an accepted characteristic of the contemporary attitude toward the large-scale wind-brass-percussion ensemble.

 

An ancient Russian Christmas carol (“Carol of the Little Russian Children“), together with a good deal of original material and some motivic elements derived from the liturgical music of the Eastern Orthodox Church, forms the basis for this musical impression of Old Russia during the jubilant Christmas season. Although cast in the form of a single, continuous movement, four distinct sections may be easily recognized, which the composer originally subtitled “Children’s Carol,” “Antiphonal Chant,” “Village Song,” and the closing “Cathedral Chorus.” All of the resources of the modern, integrated symphonic band are drawn upon to create an almost overwhelming sound picture of tone color, power, and sonority.