KMEA Performance

Program notes from this performance

March for the Sultan Abdul Medjid (1851) Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868)

Cultivating a European taste, the Sultan Abdul Medjid brought Giuseppe Donizetti to Turkey to become director of the Imperial Military Music School. Dedicated to his work there, Giuseppe remained in Turkey from 1832 until the time of his death in 1856. In addition to developing the performance level of the musicians, Giuseppe commissioned both his brother, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioacchino Rossini to compose commemorative marches for the Sultan Abdul Medjid Khan. Given Rossini’s clear affinity for winds as heard in his operatic scoring, his March for the Sultan Abdul Medjid became a perfect medium to reveal his clever facility within the expected framework of the march. Douglas Townsend has created this edition to conform to the typical instrumentation of the modern concert band.

Celebration Overture, Op. 61 (1954) Paul Creston (1906-1985)

Except for having keyboard lessons as a youngster, Paul Creston was otherwise largely a self-taught musician. A blessing in disguise, this background allowed Creston to develop a unique and individual voice, free of any particular “school of composition.” His impressive output included works for the theater, film and the concert hall. Celebration Overture was commissioned by Edwin Franko Goldman for the American Bandmasters Association and was premiered by the University of Michigan Band at the annual convention of that organization in 1955. Shaped in three sections (fast-slow-fast), sophisticated rhythmic interplay, counterpoint and complex tonal harmonies define the work. Its relaxed middle section is in compound meter, suggesting the melding of the elements of the siciliano with the character of a stylized waltz.

Marche sur la Bastille for “Le 14 Julliet” (1936) Arthur Honegger (1910-1949)

Roman Roland’s conception of the socio-political work “Le 14 Julliet” dramatized events associated with the French Revolution and was written t be performed at the 1937 Paris Exposition. It was supported with music for wind band by Milhaud, Auric, Ibert, Koechlin, Roussel, Lazarus and Honegger.

Act III depicts the afternoon of July 14th. Hearing rumors that the King’s army will seize the capital, the people take to the streets to storm the Bastille, free political prisoners and confiscate weapons for defense. Honegger provokes a brooding atmosphere and a sense of gathering momentum in his Marche sur la Bastille. In the original production, the work also included a choeur à bouche fermée (choir with mouths closed).

“Allegro Tempestuoso” from Symphony No. 5 (1950) Peter Mennin (1923-1983)

Those who are familiar with Mennin’s well-known work for concert band, Canzona (1951), will discover its musical family tree while listening to the finale from his Symphony No. 5, which was written one year later. Ifluenced by both Renaissance polyphony and the music of Paul Hindemith, Mennin’s adroit contrapuntal skill is a welcome feature of this American symphonist’s music. His Symphony No. 5 was commissioned and premiered by the Dallas Symphony with Walter Hendl. Not surprisingly, it also received one of its early performances and recording sessions by the Louisville Orchestra under the baton of Robert Whitney. The muscular counterpoint that prevails in the work creates both compelling visceral energy and intellectually stimulating musical content. The work was commissioned by Edwin Franko Goldman through The League of Composers. The work has been faithfully transcribed by Frank Bencriscutto.

Through the Air (1899) August Damm (1849-1942)
Amy Ensel, Tiffany Peters and Kaelah Williams, piccolo soloists

August Damm was a flutist who performed with the Boston Symphony prior to the turn of the twentieth century. He came to the United States from Germany in the early 1870’s. During this period, bands performed many outdoor concerts and specialty numbers of this type, which were very in vogue. According to Keith Brion, conductor of the New Sousa Band, Through the Air “was perhaps the most popular of the hundreds of turn-of-the-century piccolo solos called ‘birdie solos.’ The new Boehm system of piccolo fingerings allowed amazing acrobatics by the soloist.” It follows a theme and polka form so prevalent in the music of this type.

Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (1923) John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)

In 1922, John Philip Sousa was inducted into the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. Shortly thereafter, he was also named honorary director of the Almas Temple Shrine Band in Washington, D.C. Nobles of the Mystic Shrine memorialized the occasion and brought from his pen a march of unique color and intrigue. The percussion parts, complete with the inclusion of tambourine ,suggests the “Turkish” element associated with the Shriners. At the Shriners’ National Convention in 1923, Sousa conducted the premiere of the march. A gigantic troupe of Shriners, numbering about 6,200, formed the band that performed in Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. that day.

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