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Category Archives: Camphouse-Mark

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.

Watchman, Tell Us of the Night was first published in 1996.  The score comes with an anonymous program note:

A hymn for all children, Watchman, Tell Us of the Night portrays the loneliness, loss of innocence and yet enduring hope of the survivor of child abuse.  The work is a musical tribute to survivors, often dreamlike in nature, as seen through the eyes of a child.

With this work, Mr. Camphouse responds to the shockingly widespread national tragedy of child abuse.  Victims often suffer life-long effects mentally, physically, and socially.  This shameful societal illness must be faced openly, honestly, and compassionately.

The title, taken from John Bowring’s 1825 text setting of George Elvey’s church hymn, “Watchman, Tell Us of the Night”, is also known as the Thanksgiving hymn, “Come Ye Thankful People Come”.

Watchman, Tell Us of the Night was commissioned by the St. Louis Youth Wind Ensemble, Milton Allen, Conductor and is dedicated to the composer’s twin daughters, Beth and Briton.

Interview with Camphouse in the George Mason University Gazette.

The child abuse statistics in the US are alarming indeed.

The Greater Gwent Youth Wind Symphonia does great justice to the piece in their performance:

The hymn tune and words don’t seem to coexist online in video form, but here is a version of the tune to the words of “Come Ye Thankful People Come”.  You’ll hear the Watchman melody right away:

Finally, the words that inspired Camphouse, as quoted in the score:

Watchman, tell us of the night,
For the morning seems to dawn.
Traveler, darkness takes its flight,
Doubt and terror are withdrawn.
Watchman, let thy wanderings cease;
Hie thee to thy quiet home.
Traveler, yes; it brings the day.
Healing wholeness now has come!

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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:

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.

Camphouse wrote Yosemite Autumn in 2004 on a commission from Jason Noble and the Miami Coral Park High School Wind Orchestra in Miami, Florida.  He provides a detailed program note on the piece:

I put forth considerable effort in trying to separate my seemingly non-stop professional activities from increasingly all-too-infrequent family activities. The first ten days of a two week family vacation in 2003 to the Northern California region was shaping up just that way: San Francisco was fascinating and entertaining, Big Sur was spectacular, and the Wine Country, Redwood and Lassen National Parks, and Lake Tahoe were all truly magnificent! Everything was going as planned. Musical projects and work-related responsibilities were some 2,700 miles back east. I was on vacation, enjoying some “quality time” with my family in the truly gorgeous and exciting Northern California region for the very first time.

Then we reached Yosemite.

How could any human not be profoundly moved by such stunning beauty? How could any American not take immense pride in our nation being so richly blessed with such an abundance of natural beauty? But, at the same time, we Americans share a genuine concern over the dangers of shortsighted and ill-advised environmental policies of government as well as private sector greed with related encroachment and pollution issues.

And finally, how could any composer not be inspired and hopelessly tempted to “get the creative juices flowing” in trying to capture the rich history and majestic landscape that is Yosemite? The remaining portion of this family vacation was doomed. I was there physically with my family – hiking, horseback riding, and doing the things tourists do. But the creative part of me was definitely somewhere else – absorbed in thinking about ways I might try to go about capturing musically the awe-inspiring sights and sounds of Yosemite: Glacier Point, Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls, just to name a few.

The great American naturalist, conservationist, and writer John Muir certainly said it best:

No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite.
Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life.

Yosemite Autumn is dedicated to the memory of my mother-in-law, Daphna Lodean Wilson (1930-2003), whose spirit will always seem “to glow with life”.

What’s Camphouse raving about? Check out some Yosemite autumn pictures.

Interview with Camphouse in the George Mason University Gazette.

Program note on Yosemite Autumn on a travel site, of all places.

And here’s a marvelous YouTube performance of the piece: