From Sea to Shining Sea
Sunday, February 21, 2010, 3:00 PM
McAfee Center, Saratoga
Dr. Edward C. Harris, conductor
Joseph Alessi, trombone
Frank Ticheli (b. 1958)
Frank Ticheli was born in Louisiana and received his bachelor of music degree in composition from Southern Methodist College and his master’s degree in composition and doctorate of musical arts from the University of Michigan. He is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Southern California and is the Composer-in-Residence of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. He has composed works for band, wind ensemble, orchestra, chamber ensembles and the theater. His music has garnered many prestigious awards.
The inspiration for Nitro was the element nitrogen, which composer Ticheli called “life-giving, energizing, healing, cleansing, explosive.” He composed this work in 2006 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Northshore (IL) Concert Band. Trumpet calls and a busy chattering in the woodwinds create a bright, festive mood, building to a thunderous conclusion.
The Incredible Flutist, Suite for Concert Band
Walter Piston (1894-1976), transcribed by Frank Erickson
Walter Piston originally studied art and painting at the Massachusetts Normal Art School, with music as a sideline. He played saxophone in a service band during World War I, later enrolled at Harvard University, and continued his studies in music in Paris. After returning to the United States, he was appointed to the music faculty at Harvard. His works include compositions for orchestra, chamber ensembles and solo instruments, as well as textbooks on music theory. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 and in 1961 for his Symphony No.3 and Symphony No. 7, respectively, and was a three-time winner of the New York Music Critics Circle Award.
The ballet The Incredible Flutist was Piston’s only composition for the stage. It describes a marketplace teeming with activity and enlivened by a circus. A flutist acts as a snake charmer, but also charms women. A rich widow flirts with a merchant, is discovered by her lover, faints, and is revived by the flutist’s music. The circus then leaves the square. The Incredible Flutist was first performed in 1938 with Arthur Fiedler conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra. Piston arranged music from the ballet into a suite for orchestra which premiered in 1940. The original suite is in thirteen movements, including the Introduction and Finale. This arrangement features six movements of the original suite.
Trombone Concerto, op. 114b
Derek Bourgeois (b. 1941)
Derek Bourgeois was born in England and earned a doctorate from Cambridge University. He studied composition and conducting at the Royal College of Music. He has composed symphonies, concertos, works for chorus and orchestra, two operas, a musical, chamber music, vocal pieces, and works for brass band and symphonic wind orchestra. He has also written a considerable amount of music for television productions.
Bourgeois’s Trombone Concerto was commissioned by the British Trombone Society for the International Trombone Workshop at Eaton, England, July 1989. The world premiere was given by Christian Lindberg.
The first movement is constructed classically: the solo trombone immediately launches into the opening theme in F minor, and it is the solo trombone that introduces the second lyrical theme in A-flat, presented over chords that are given mobility by dark-toned alto and bass clarinets. The movement closes with pianissimo chords, leading us in mood to the second movement, which opens a tone lower in E-flat.
Here, the rich tone of the soloist is matched by three accompanying trombones. Gradually the rest of the low brass join as the solo trombone weaves a seamless, almost Wagnerian theme, extending phrases sequentially.
After the passion of the slow movement, Bourgeois adopts a classical rondo form as a 6/8 Scherzo, marked Presto, which gives the release we need. It is fun, to be thrown off lightly as we enjoy the semitone shifts with a wry smile. Toward the end of the movement is a cadenza that alludes to the thematic content of the first movement. For the soloist, however, this music requires a virtuoso combination of slide and tongue.
The Gallant Seventh March
John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), edited by Loras John Schissel
The man who would become known as the “March King” was born in Washington, D.C., in the same year that his father, António de Sousa, had enlisted in the Marine Band. Sousa began formal musical instruction at the age of 6 and appeared as a violin soloist at the age of 11. Two years later, he began his career in the U.S. Marine Band, serving as an apprentice “in the trade or mystery of a musician.” He became leader of the Marine Band in 1880 and served in that position until 1892, when he resigned to organize a band of his own. Along with his ability to organize and conduct superb musicians, Sousa developed a distinct flair for writing marches. He was a prolific composer who found themes for his compositions in his country’s history, dedication events, military groups, and even newspaper contests. By the time of his death at the age of 78, Sousa had composed 136 marches, 15 operettas, 70 songs, 11 waltzes and a wide variety of incidental works.
Sousa wrote The Gallant Seventh March for the 7th Regiment, 107th Infantry, of the New York National Guard. Its conductor, Major Francis Sutherland, had been a cornetist in Sousa’s band before joining the Army during the First World War. The march was premiered by Sousa’s band with members of the 7th Regiment band at the New York Hippodrome in November 1922. Written during the last decade of Sousa’s career, it is considered one of his best.
Mark Camphouse (b. 1954)
Born in Illinois, Mark Camphouse graduated from high school a year early and went on to receive his formal musical training at Northwestern University. He has taught at universities in Illinois, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Virginia. He began composing at an early age, and his First Symphony was premiered when he was just 17. Several of his compositions have won band association awards. Camphouse has appeared as a guest conductor, lecturer and clinician in North America and Europe. He has also played trumpet with the Roanoke Symphony since 1988.
The composer writes: “The majestic splendor of California’s Yosemite National Park inspired this work. From the opening horn call to the final pianissimo chord in the woodwinds, Yosemite Autumn’s sweeping melodies and profound harmonies portray the grandeur of the beauty of nature.”
Meredith Willson (1902-1984), arranged by Naohiro Iwai
Born in Iowa in 1902, Meredith Willson attended the Damrosch School of Musical Art (later The Juilliard School) in New York. Willson served as the flute and piccolo soloist in John Philip Sousa’s concert band and later performed in the New York Philharmonic. He also worked as a radio music director in San Francisco. Willson scored two films, The Great Dictator and The Little Foxes, in addition to his work in radio and television. He also served in the military for a time during World War II. He found great success with his first Broadway musicals; he won a Tony Award and was named Showman of the Year (by the Broadway Historical Society) for The Music Man. He referred to the show as “an Iowan’s attempt to pay tribute to his home state.” It took Willson some eight years and thirty revisions to complete the musical, for which he wrote more than forty songs. The cast recording of The Music Man won the first Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album (Broadway or TV) ever issued.
This arrangement of the song seamlessly integrates other popular marches from the time, such as Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever and The Washington Post, The National Emblem by Edwin Eugene Bagley, the Swedish Under the Blue and Yellow Flag by Viktor Widqvist and Second Regiment, Connecticut National Guard by D. W. Reeves.
Program notes are edited by Karen Berry and excerpted from the composers’ notes, Band Notes by Norm Smith, The Pepper Music Catalog and the following sources: