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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Buffalo native Rossano Galante (b. 1967) is known for several short, energetic overtures for band including The Redwoods, Resplendent Glory, and Transcendent Journey.  He studied with Jerry Goldsmith at the prestigious film scoring program at the University of Southern California.  He continues to receive commissions from bands around the United States and to work as an orchestrator of film scores.

Galante wrote Resplendent Glory in 2005.  From the score:

Resplendent Glory is a romantic/heroic composition. The main theme of the work begins immediately, stated by trumpets, then passed to the woodwinds and horns.  The theme then modulates with a morse-code like ostinato in the woodwinds to support the trumpet melody, and adding sporadic horn counterpoint.  This flows into the B section where the trumpet melody is supported by horn triplets and woodwind runs.  This section should sound very heroic.  The B theme is then stated by trombones with woodwinds supporting the rhythmic harmony.  Next, the A theme returns with more activity and counterpoint, followed by the transition to the C section of the work.  This section has a very lush melody stated by woodwinds and horns.  Oboes and clarinets take over the theme accompanied by an eighth note ostinato and a flute obligato.  After a tutti restatement of this romantic theme the main melody returns with full ensemble, ending with a big climax full of brass fanfares and woodwind flourishes.

Galante’s most extensive biography exists on Alfred.  He also has an IMDb page.

This is one of the best recordings you’ll ever find of Resplendent Glory:

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Steven Bryant (b. 1972) is an acclaimed, award-winning composer whose works often straddle different media.  He is a three-time recipient of the National Band Association’s William D. Revelli Composition Award (2007, 2008, 2010). His first orchestral work, Loose Id for Orchestra, was “orchestrated like a virtuoso” according to celebrated composer Samuel Adler.  His epic work for wind band and electronics, Ecstatic Waters, has received more performances than any other piece of its kind.  His other work includes pieces for wind band (some with added electronics), orchestra, chamber ensembles, and electronic music.  He studied composition at The Juilliard School with John Corigliano, at the University of North Texas with Cindy McTee, and at Ouachita University with W. Francis McBeth.

The Machine Awakes is the result of a 2012 commission from a consortium of 20 schools.  It is unique in at least two respects.  First, while it is a grade 2 piece, it comes with optional grade 3 parts, allowing more advanced players a greater challenge that fits in with the rest of the band.  More importantly, it may be the first piece ever written for young band and electronics.  Bryant gives it a Terminator-like back story as well:

The Machine Awakes is the sound of something not human (but of humans hands) – something not entirely organic, but most definitely alive – waking up for the first time. From the opening swirling textures, we sense the first hesitant sparks of thought, attempting to find form and coherence. This new machine – sentient, aware – comes fully awake, possessed of emphatic self-determination and unfathomable purpose.

Read more about The Machine Awakes at Steven Bryant’s website and his blog (twice).  Read up on Bryant himself at Wikipedia.

Here’s the piece in a live performance by a high school band.

Go to Bryant’s website for more recordings of the piece, including the original MIDI realization and a near-professional live recording.

Obviously Bryant likes and is comfortable in electronic media.  He has a YouTube account, a Twitter handle, and a Facebook fan page.  He has a fantastic website with a blog attached.  He also numbers the revisions of his music like computer software: for instance, his latest version of Dusk is version 1.4.  In his words, “The old version (1.2) is NOT compatible” with the new.  He also writes dedicated electronic music.  My favorite, which I heard when I sat in at his session at the Ball State University Conducting Workshop, is called Hummingbrrd.  Click the link to listen, and prepare to be amazed!

Larry Clark (b. 1963) is a prolific composer of educational music for band and orchestra.  He started his career in the public schools of Florida before making his name as a composer.  He is currently the vice-president and editor-in-chief for Carl Fischer Music in New York City, which publishes all of his over 200 pieces.

Magma was written in 2006 with beginning bands in mind.  Its title comes from the molten rock that collects under volcanoes.  Says Clark:

Magma is a bold and aggressive composition for the youngest of students.  It uses only the first six notes learned in most beginning band methods (B-flat to G). The key of the piece, however, is C minor, giving it the darkness that I was looking for in this composition.  Moreover, it uses only whole, half and quarter-note rhythms in the winds.  The piece opens in unison with a fanfare-type gesture that fans out into full harmony and contains interjections by the percussion section.  The main theme of the piece is then stated for the first time by the trumpets with punctuated rhythms in the lower voices.  The upper woodwinds are added, playing a counter line, and the lower voices lengthen the harmonic pad while the trumpets repeat the main theme.  A short development section presents an interplay between the upper and lower voices and the percussion, leading back to the final statement of the main theme.  A brief coda follows, marked by a return of the unison fanfare material from the opening of the piece.

Due to the key of this piece, I felt it necessary to provide an alternative trombone part that avoids sixth position and the change between B-flat and C from first to sixth positions for younger students with shorter arms.  Use your discretion when choosing which trombone part works best for your ensemble.

It has been my pleasure to have the opportunity to write this piece.  I hope you and your students enjoy it and find it useful for your program.

A middle school band plays Magma:

If a more professional recording is what you’re after, listen here.

There is also a string orchestra version of Magma, played here by an elementary school honors orchestra:

Curious about magma the substance?  Check this out:

Larry Clark has a terrific website where you can learn more about him and his music.

Composer Michael Markowski (b. 1986) claims that he is “fully qualified to watch movies and cartoons” on the basis of his bachelors degree in film from Arizona State University.  Despite this non-musical training, he is gaining attention as a composer of unique and sophisticated works for wind band.  Elixir (2012) starts with a sparse texture and explodes into something of a Latin feel.  Markowski describes its genesis thusly:

So many of us spend our entire lives working tirelessly at what we love to do, striving to become experts in our field, passionately in search of something to be remembered for, something we can change the world with, something that gives us purpose.

It’s a bold idea—the thought that a small part of us might, in some way, live forever—but it seems that the bold idea, itself, has had an inexhaustible life of its own. Across the span of history, folklore has given mankind a way to find this meaning, be it through a quest for the Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth, or even the legendary sword Excalibur. The mythology behind Elixir is a brother to these legends, probably most associated withElixir Vitae, or as it’s better known, the Elixir of Life—a special potion with magical properties said to extend a person’s life indefinitely, allowing him or her to become immortal, to be forever young. By drinking the potion, man is enabled to overcome his inherent limitations and achieve the greatness that he has always longed for.

Elixir is dedicated to Scott Coulson, a man who has passionately devoted his life to others through music. Above all, the piece is a musical “toast”—a “cheers” to a continued journey and to a long, healthy life not only to Mr. Coulson, but also to the students at Poteet High School, whose amazing journeys are just beginning.

Michael Markowski
May 13, 2012

Everything you’ll ever need to know about Elixir is on Markowski’s comprehensive website for the piece, which includes a recording, an interactive sample score (here’s the pdf version), a YouTube video, an analysis by Dr. Marc R. Dickey, the program note I quoted above, a link to all of his blog postings on the subject, and more.

Now, in case you didn’t already find it among the links above, here is Elixir on video:

The composer known conventionally as Franz von Suppe (1819-1895) was born to an Italian-Belgian father and a Viennese mother  in Croatia, which was then part of the Kingdom of Dalmatia in the Austro-Hungarian empire.  His full name befits his convoluted nationality: his parents named him Francesco Ezechiele Ermenegildo Cavaliere Suppé Demelli.  His early musical training was in flute and singing.  His parents pushed him to study law, but he continued his musical studies nonetheless.  He eventually moved to Vienna to complete his studies and find work conducting in opera houses.  He went on to compose over 100 works for the stage.

Light Cavalry is a two act operetta written in 1866.  The story revolves around a troop of cavalry men who attempt to unite a young couple through many twists and turns.  The overture has taken on a life of its own, much beyond operetta that spawned it.  It is core repertoire for orchestras and bands everywhere.

Franz von Suppe on wikipedia, naxos.com, and Allmusic.com.

There are all sorts of materials out there on Light Cavalry: a very thin Wikipedia article, program notes from the Amarillo Symphony, more from the Corpus Christi Symphony, a well-written walkthrough of sorts of the piece, and a collection of public domain scores of the piece.

Here’s the overture played by the Indiana University Summer Music Clinic Cream Band conducted by Stephen Pratt:

and now the original orchestral version, conducted by the legendary Herbert von Karajan:

Here’s another great arrangement for horn ensemble:

My first exposure to Light Cavalry came via this amazing Disney cartoon.  Watch all the way to the end for something truly unique.  Warning – you may wince in the meantime!

Vaclav Nelhybel (1919-1996) was a prolific Czech-American composer of music for various ensembles including handbells, chorus, orchestra, and a huge collection of wind music.  He studied in Czechoslovakia and Switzerland before starting his career as a composer and conductor, becoming the music director of Radio Free Europe in 1950.  He emigrated to the United States in 1957, where he continued his composition and conducting activities, leaving a mark especially at the University of Scranton, which houses a collection in his name, and where he was composer-in-residence.

Nelhybel wrote Festivo in 1968, describing it as “an overture-type composition in which the woodwinds and the brasses are constantly confronting each other like two antagonists in a dramatic scene.”  It is a classic of grade 3 (middle school level) wind band literature, with exciting parts for every instrument and contrasting musical sections to draw in an audience.  The Wind Repertory Project has more information about the piece.  There is also a great, thorough write-up about conducting the piece in John Knight’s book The Interpretive Wind Conductor, of which you can read an excerpt on Google books.

Full, professional performance:

Read more about Nelhybel in several different places: Wikipedia articles in English (fairly basic) and German (has a thorough works list that the English one lacks), a biography on his University of Scranton page, his New York Times obituary, a tribute to him by Joel Blahnik, and an extensive interview with Bruce Duffie.