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Mark Camphouse (b. 1954) is an American composer and conductor.  He has written more than a dozen emotional works for wind band.  He also directs the bands at George Mason University.  He is the creator and editor of the series Composers on Composing for Band, published by GIA publications. He coordinates the National Band Association’s Young Composer Mentor Project which matches emerging composers with experienced professionals.

Tribute is a relatively early work in Camphouse’s oeuvre.  He provides his own program note:

Tribute was composed to meet a commission from the Leader and Commander of the United States Army Band, Colonel Eugene W. Allen and his wife, Claire, to honor all American women who have served their country in the armed forces.

The work was premiered in April, 1985, at Radford University with the composer conducting the United States Army Band.  Other significant pre-publication performances include those by the Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble under the direction of John P. Paynter.  The work is ceremonial in character with two outer fanfare-like sections contrasted by a lyrical middle section.  Tribute was runner-up for the 1986 Ostwald Award for band composition, sponsored by the American Bandmasters Association.

If YouTube is a representative sample of how often a piece gets performed, then Tribute is virtually ignored, with only 2 performances posted.  One of them is the original Northwestern performance conducted by Paynter.  It’s really good, but unfortunately the whole thing got transposed up a half step from the published version.   The other come from a Florida State University Symphonic Band concert in 2010, which is also quite good!  The reason for this paucity of performances may be the difficulty of the piece.  It is loaded with rigorously intense rhythms.  It has solos in nearly every instrument.  The horn and trumpet parts pull no punches, with the first trumpet hitting an E-flat near the end of the piece and all of the horns routinely hitting high B-flats.  Couple these challenges with the fact that Camphouse has written two dozen other intense and expressive works for band, most of which are not as jaw-droppingly difficult to play, and Tribute‘s relative scarcity of performances starts to makes sense.

Interview with Camphouse in the George Mason University Gazette.

And here’s that FSU performance:

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