Fanfares and Flourishes
Sunday, October 18, 2009, 3:00 PM
McAfee Center, Saratoga
Dr. Edward C. Harris, conductor
Timothy Harris, guest conductor
Dann Zinn, tenor sax
Erik Jekabson, flugelhorn
Marshall Otwell, piano
John Shifflett, bass
Curt Moore, drums
Paul Basler (b. 1963)
Paul Basler is currently Professor of Music at the University of Florida, where he teaches horn and composition. He received his B.M. degree from Florida State University and his M.M., M.A. and D.M.A. degrees from Stony Brook University. Dr. Basler is widely recognized as one of the most important instructors of horn in the United States, and his textbooks on horn pedagogy and performance etudes are used by schools of music and conservatories around the world. He has received teaching awards from the University of Florida College of Fine Arts, Stony Brook University and Western Carolina University. Basler has received several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and his compositions have been performed throughout the world. Recent performance venues have included Carnegie Hall, the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Tanglewood, the Spoleto Festival, Symphony Hall in Chicago, the Kennedy Center, the National Theatres of the Dominican Republic and Kenya, and Lincoln Center. He was a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in Music at Kenyatta University (Nairobi, Kenya).
Basler is one of the most performed composers of his generation, and his music has been enthusiastically received throughout the world. The New York Times described his music as “virtuosic and highly athletic.” Carnival is a tribute to the sights and sounds of the traditional American carnival. The few points of repose in this dynamic piece are opportunities to catch one’s breath amid the joyous bustle of a superb and imaginatively scored piece by a rising star of the American musical scene.
John Mackey (b. 1973)
John Mackey was born in Ohio and holds a Master of Music from the Juilliard School and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Mr. Mackey particularly enjoys writing music for dance and for symphonic winds. His works have been performed at the Sydney Opera House; Carnegie Hall; the Kennedy Center; Italy’s Spoleto Festival; and throughout Italy, Chile, Japan, Colombia, Austria, Brazil, Germany, England, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
Mackey has received grants and awards from numerous organizations, including ASCAP, the American Music Center, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust (Live Music for Dance commissioning grants) and a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 2007. He has held college residencies at Florida State, University of Michigan, Ohio State, Arizona State, University of Southern California, University of Texas, and many others. Mr. Mackey served as Music Director of the Parsons Dance Company from 1999 to 2003.
According to the composer on his own website, “I think Jake Wallace nailed the program note, as he always does. It’s below…”
Aurora now had left her saffron bed,
And beams of early light the heav’ns o’erspread,
When, from a tow’r, the queen, with wakeful eyes,
Saw day point upward from the rosy skies.
—Virgil, The Aeneid, Book IV, Lines 584-587
Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, is frequently associated with beauty and light. Also known as Eos in Greek mythology, Aurora would rise each morning and stream across the sky, heralding the coming of her brother Sol, the sun. Though she is among the lesser deities of Roman and Greek mythologies, her cultural influence has persevered, most notably in the naming of the vibrant flashes of light that occur in Arctic and Antarctic regions, the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis. John Mackey’s Aurora Awakes is thus a piece about the heralding of the coming of light. Built in two substantial sections, the piece moves over the course of eleven minutes from a place of remarkable stillness to an unbridled explosion of energy — from darkness to light, placid grey to startling rainbows of color.
Though Mackey is known to use stylistic imitation, it is less common for him to use outright quotation. As such, the presence of two more-or-less direct quotations of other musical compositions is particularly noteworthy in Aurora Awakes. The first, which appears at the beginning of the second section, is an ostinato based on the familiar guitar introduction to U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name.” Though the strains of The Edge’s guitar have been metamorphosed into the insistent repetitions of keyboard percussion, the aesthetic is similar — a distant proclamation that grows steadily in fervor. The difference between U2’s presentation and Mackey’s, however, is that the guitar riff disappears for the majority of the song, while in Aurora Awakes, the motive persists for nearly the entirety of the remainder of the piece.
The composer comments: “When I heard that song on the radio last winter, I thought it was kind of a shame that he only uses that little motive almost as a throwaway bookend. That’s my favorite part of the song, so why not try to write an entire piece that uses that little hint of minimalism as its basis?”
The other quotation is a sly reference to Gustav Holst’s First Suite in E-flat for Military Band. The brilliant E-flat chord that closes the “Chaconne” of that work is orchestrated (nearly) identically as the final sonority of Aurora Awakes – producing an unmistakably vibrant timbre that won’t be missed by aficionados of the repertoire. Mackey adds an even brighter element, however, by including instruments not in Holst’s original:
“That has always been one of my favorite chords because it’s just so damn bright. In a piece that’s about the awaking of the goddess of dawn, you need a damn bright ending — and there was no topping Holst. Well… except to add crotales.”
Hold This Boy and Listen
Carter Pann (b. 1972)
Carter Pann began studying the piano with his grandmother, continuing his piano studies and later adding composition studies in his native Chicago. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music and his Master’s degree from the University of Michigan.
His music has been performed around the world by such ensembles and soloists as the London Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, Berlin-Stockholm-Finnish Radio Symphonies, Seattle Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra and the National Symphony of Ireland. Honors in composition include the K. Serocki Competition, the Charles Ives Scholarship from the Academy of Arts and Letters, and five ASCAP composer awards. His Piano Concerto was nominated for a GRAMMY as “Best Classical Composition of the Year” in 2001. Throughout the last several years, Pann has contributed to the growth of new works being written for the many wind symphonies around the country.
About Hold this Boy and Listen, composed in 2008, the composer writes that it is “...an unusually soft and subdued song for band, written for my third nephew, David Paulus, Jr. I sat down at the piano and wrote a lyrical work where the melodies and harmonies return, creating a structure not unlike standard song structure. The sentiment is at times innocent or wistful and at other times haunted and serene. The players should really be allowed to sing through their instruments in this piece.”
La Oreja de Oro
Mariano San Miguel (1880-1935)
Mariano San Miguel studied the clarinet in his native Spain and attended the National Conservatory of Madrid. He went on to play solo clarinet in the king’s personal band and in the Royal Theatre Orchestra. In 1908, he founded the Society of Wind Instruments of Madrid.
San Miguel wrote the popular paso doble torero (“bullfighter two-step”) La Oreja de Oro (“The Golden Ear”) to capture the drama and excitement of a Spanish bullfight. Bullfighting is Spain’s most popular sport and is seen as a test of bravery, skill and grace. The most prized award a bullfighter may receive is the ear of the bull, or the “golden ear.” The band has an important role during a bullfight and is allowed to play only when the presiding officer believes that the matador is performing well. San Miguel uses the traditional Spanish fanfares, ornamentation and trumpet solos in this, one of his best-loved pieces.
Aaron Lington (b. 1974)
Aaron Lington received his B.M. in music education from the University of Houston, Moores School of Music, and both his M.M. in jazz studies and D.M.A. in saxophone performance from the University of North Texas. His compositional endeavors include commissioned arrangements and original compositions for many artists, including the legendary trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, the BBC Radio Orchestra, and Jamie Davis, former vocalist for the Count Basie Band. Dr. Lington was a recipient of both a California Lottery Grant and a Junior Faculty Grant from San José State University. Funds from these grants were used in the production of his album of compositions for jazz quintet, Cape Breton. In addition to his position as associate professor at San José State University, where he serves as Coordinator of Jazz Studies, Dr. Lington is also a member of the faculty at the Texas Music Festival Jazz Institute, hosted by the University of Houston.
The composer writes: “Open Evidence was commissioned by Timothy Harris and the Chabot College Wind Symphony for an initial performance at the California Association for Music Education conference in Sacramento, California, on March 13, 2008. Harris specifically requested a piece for jazz small group and wind symphony in an effort to successfully combine these two apparently disparate ensembles. Open Evidence explores the musical possibilities inherent in a marriage between the wind symphony and the jazz small group. The mood of this work ranges from pensive lyricism, through propulsive modern jazz, and concludes with a triumphant and exuberant statement from the full ensemble.”
Roger Nixon (1921-2009)
Born and raised in California’s Central Valley, Roger Nixon acquired a taste for the rhythms and dances of the early settlers of the state, which appear in many of his works. His musical interests were nurtured in the public school music program, summer camp at Pacific Grove and Modesto Junior College. He spent the war years in the Navy as a commanding officer of an LCMR in the Atlantic. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied with Roger Sessions, Sir Arthur Bliss, Ernest Bloch and privately with Arnold Schoenberg. He was Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University. He wrote over sixty compositions for orchestra, band, choir and opera. In 1997, Nixon was honored by the Texas Bandmasters Association as a Heritage American Composer.
Nixon composed a number of works in the genre that he labeled “Fanfare-March,” a form with roots in the marches of Sousa, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. Centennial Fanfare-March was commissioned by the Modesto Junior College Symphonic Band on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Modesto, California. The music was first performed in 1970, during the festivities of Modesto’s Centennial Ball.