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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Oh what a summer it was, with trips all over the place and conducting like crazy, not to mention the beginning stages of my doctoral thesis research on symphonies for winds.  Also, this blog passed 100,000 all time hits on Sunday, August 10!

My first stop was the New York City area, where I re-connected with some of my great friends and worked with their bands.  I started on May 27 in the Grand Street Campus High School with Jeff Ball and Jasmine Britt, whose wind ensemble was playing:

Second Suite in F – Gustav Holst

The Hobbits – Johan de Meij

I also worked with their symphonic band, which was very jazzed about playing:

Sinfonia VI – Timothy Mahr

Among other things.  I stuck around until that evening for the Brooklyn Wind Symphony rehearsal.  They were preparing a concert of movie-themed music, but they had me in to conduct a recording session on Michael Markowski’s new grade 2 piece, The Cave You Fear.

That night, I arranged with Jennifer Schechter to visit her middle school in Queens.  What a treat that was!  They were working on an EXCELLENT arrangement of Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance for their graduation.

Later in the week on May 30, I traveled up to White Plains High School to work with my great friend Bill Tonissen and his students.  They were preparing an end-of-year pops concert, with the music selected by the students:

Chicago – John Kander, arr. Victor Lopez

Music from The Incredibles – Michael Giacchino. arr. Jay Bocook

Night on Fire – John Mackey

Later in June, I traveled to two Texas schools for the first time to participate in their conducting workshops.  First came the University of North Texas Conductors Collegium starting on June 9, featuring Eugene Corporon and Dennis Fisher as clinicians.  I had the opportunity to conduct Dana Wilson’s Speak to Me in a concert, with three days of rehearsal preceding.  I then went directly to the University of Texas Art of Band Conducting and Rehearsal Workshop, with clinicians Jerry Junkin, Richard Floyd, H. Robert Reynolds, Robert Carnahan, and Tony Marinello.  This featured a variety of repertoire across the week:

Octet – Igor Stravinsky

Serenade in E-flat, op. 7 – Richard Strauss

Gran Partita – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Lincolnshire Posy – Percy Grainger

March from Symphonic Metamorphosis – Paul Hindemith, arr. Keith Wilson

O Magnum Mysterium – Morten Lauridsen, arr. H. Robert Reynolds

Three Chorale Preludes – William Latham

Trauermusik – Richard Wagner, ed. Votta/Boyd

In July I returned to New York to rejoin the Columbia Summer Winds and their conductors, Bill Tonissen and Sarah Quiroz, as a guest on two of their concerts: Thursday, July 24 at 5:30pm in Union Square Park, and Saturday, July 26 at 1pm in the Central Park Bandshell.  These were part of a series of Americana concerts, featuring:

American Overture for Band – Joseph Wilcox Jenkins

Sea of Fury – Jim Territo

Spoon River – Percy Grainger

Old Home Days – Charles Ives

Turkey in the Straw – Michael Markowski (featuring me as guest conductor)

The Cowboys – John Williams

Buckaroo Holiday – Aaron Copland, arr. Megan (featuring me as guest conductor)

Hoedown – Aaron Copland, arr. Hilliard

America the Beautiful – Samuel Augustus Ward, arr. Carmen Dragon

The Stars and Stripes Forever – John Philip Sousa

Amidst all of this, I continued preparing for my role as a conducting TA at Arizona State University in the fall, which was set to include an appearance with the Wind Ensemble and my own recital with the Wind Orchestra, plus my continued research into symphonies for winds.  All told, I was very busy for most of the summer!

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John Barnes Chance (1932-1972) was born in Texas, where he played percussion in high school.  His early interest in music led him to the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, studying composition with Clifton Williams.  The early part of his career saw him playing timpani with the Austin Symphony, and later playing percussion with the Fourth and Eighth U.S. Army Bands during the Korean War.  Upon his discharge, he received a grant from the Ford Foundation’s Young Composers Project, leading to his placement as resident composer in the Greensboro, North Carolina public schools.  Here he produced seven works for school ensembles, including his classic Incantation and Dance.  He went on to become a professor at the University of Kentucky after winning the American Bandmasters Association’s Ostwald award for his Variations on a Korean Folk Song.  Chance was accidentally electrocuted in his backyard in Lexington, Kentucky at age 39, bringing his promising career to an early, tragic end.

Incantation and Dance came into being during Chance’s residency at Greensboro.  He wrote it in 1960 and originally called it Nocturne and Dance – it went on to become his first published piece for band.  Its initial incantation, presented in the lowest register of the flutes, presents most of the melodic material of the piece.  Chance uses elements of bitonality throughout the opening section to create a sound world mystically removed from itself.  This continues as the dance elements begin to coalesce.  Over a sustained bitonal chord (E-flat major over an A pedal), percussion instruments enter one by one, establishing the rhythmic framework of the dance to come.  A whip crack sets off furious brass outbursts, suggesting that this is not a happy-fun dance at all.  When the dance proper finally arrives, its asymmetrical accents explicitly suggest a 9/8+7/8 feel, chafing at the strictures of 4/4 time.  In his manuscript (and reprinted in the 2011 second edition score) Chance provides the following performance note pertaining to these passages:

Because there is no musical notation to indicate a “non-accent,” it may be necessary to caution the players against placing any metric pulsation on the first and third beats of the syncopated measures of the dance: to accent these beats in the accustomed way will destroy the intended effect.

He goes on to demonstrate the first two bars of the dance as written in 4/4, then rewritten as the accents would suggest: 3/4, 3/8, 2/4, 3/8.

Incantation and Dance has been extremely popular with wind bands ever since it was written.  Wikia program notes has a page about it. David Goza wrote an indispensable, must-read article about the piece.  Even the blurb at Hal Leonard is informative.

Some links on the composer:

Listing of a John Barnes Chance CD on Amazon.com with an extensive customer review at the bottom that is required reading.

Also, here’s John Barnes Chance’s wikipedia bio.

The Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra plays Incantation and Dance: