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Category Archives: Summer 2011

From Mychael Danna’s website:

Mychael Danna is recognized as one of the most versatile and original voices in film music. This reputation has led him to work with such acclaimed directors as Ash Brannon, Chris Buck (Surf’s Up), Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine), Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter), Catherine Hardwicke (Nativity), Scott Hicks (Hearts in Atlantis), Neil LaBute (Lakeview Terrace), Ang Lee (The Ice Storm), Gillies MacKinnon (Regeneration), James Mangold (Girl Interrupted), Deepa Mehta (Water), Bennett Miller (Capote), Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding), Billy Ray (Breach), Todd Robinson (Lonely Hearts), Joel Schumacher (8MM), Charles Martin Smith (Stone of Destiny), Istvan Szabo (Being Julia) and Denzel Washington (Antwone Fisher).

Recent work includes 500 Days of Summer (Marc Webb), The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus (Terry Gilliam) and The Time Traveler’s Wife (Robert Schwentke).

He studied music composition at the University of Toronto, winning the Glenn Gould Composition Scholarship in 1985.

The composer has this to say of his music from Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding:

Baraat is the hindi word for the wedding procession of the bridegroom to the bride’s village, with the groom on horseback, surrounded by his family and friends and musicians, singing and dancing with the joy of the occasion. Traditionally, the music that would accompany this noisy journey would be the exciting rhythm of the dhol drums. But since the time of the British military brass bands, the more affluent weddings use this strange yet typically Indian absorption of marching band instruments into Indian popular songs… musical proof that outside influences will come and go, but there will always be an India. This piece was written by me in that style for Mira Nair’s film Monsoon Wedding.

I arranged this piece for band with the composer’s blessing for a 2005 Columbia Wind Ensemble concert.  This will be its second run of performances.

Mychael Danna on wikipedia, IMDB, and Amazon.

Monsoon Wedding on IMDB, wikipedia, rottentomatoes, and its own official site.

Now, from YouTube, the opening credits of the movie and a bit of the first scene.  The credits feature the theme song – enjoy!

Finally, here is my band arrangement of it, performed by Columbia Summer Winds in 2011 at Bryant Park with me conducting.  That white noise in the beginning is the fountain right behind us.

Clifton Williams (1923-1976) was born in Arkansas and attended high school in Little Rock, where he became an accomplished french horn player. He studied composition at Lousiana State University and the Eastman School of Music. He taught composition for 17 years at the University of Texas at Austin before becoming chair of the composition and theory department at the University of Miami in 1966.  He held this post until his untimely death.  His first compositions were written for orchestra.  His career as a wind band composer took off in 1956 when Fanfare and Allegro, his first composition for band, won the inaugural Ostwald Award given by the American Bandmasters’ Association.  His Symphonic Suite won him the award again the following year.  He went on to write over 3 dozen works for band, many of which are considered essential repertoire.

Williams wrote the 5-movement Symphonic Suite in 1957.  It is dedicated to L. Bruce Jones, who was the band director at Louisiana State University at the time.  The piece uses one primary theme which is treated in a different style in each movement.  For an in-depth harmonic, formal, and thematic analysis of the piece, you can look at a paper I wrote on the subject: Symphonic Suite (don’t forget to check out the musical examples! symphonic suite examples).

Now here it is in performance by some anonymous, professional-sounding band:

Clifton Williams and Symphonic Suite at

Clifton Williams bio at Wikipedia.

Clifton Williams on the Ostwald Award site.

Clifton Williams at the Wind Repertory Project.

John Mackey once famously compared the band and the orchestra to the kind of girl a composer might meet at a party. The orchestra seems like she ought to be your ideal woman, but she clearly feels superior to you and talks a lot about her exes (like Dvorak and Beethoven). The band, meanwhile, is loud and brash, but loves everything you do and can’t wait to play your stuff, the newer, the better! (I’ve rather poorly paraphrased Mackey – it’s best understood in his original blog post on the subject).

With this attitude and his prodigious talent, John Mackey has become a superstar composer among band directors. He has even eclipsed his former teacher, John Corigliano, by putting out a dozen new band works, including a handful of commissions, in the last 5 years. All are challenging, and all are innovative. Mackey’s works for wind ensemble and orchestra have been performed around the world, and have won numerous composition prizes. His Redline Tango, originally for orchestra and then transcribed by the composer for band, won him the American Bandmasters Assocation/Ostwald Award in 2005, making him, then 32, the youngest composer ever to recieve that prize.  His compositional style is fresh and original. I once heard him state that he counted the band Tool among his musical influences.

John Mackey publishes his own music through Osti Music.  The website for this company doubles as his personal website and his blog, which is very informative for anyone looking for a composer’s perspective on new band music. He is featured on wikipedia and the Wind Repertory Project.

Xerxes is his first concert march.  He gives a detailed account of its genesis on his blog. Essentially, he tasked himself with writing a march with an unconventional sound, and out came Xerxes.  The name of the piece came later. Xerxes the man was the king of the Persians from 485-465BC.  He is famous for being a brutal tyrant, and for having fought (and beaten) a force of 300 Spartans at Thermopylae in Greece. This scenario was most recently fictionalized in the film 300.

Mackey himself provides the best program notes on this piece, both on his website and in more colorful detail on his blog. You can also look at the score and hear a recording of the piece there.

Those too lazy to click a link can hear Xerxes via YouTube here:

You also MUST check out this metal version of Xerxes created by a fan:

And now a bonus image: Xerxes as depicted in 300 (and with the attitude of the march):

Alexandre Travassos is a Brazilian composer.  His compositions have won numerous awards, including the 2002 Penfield/Wegmans Composition Contest for Wind Ensemble Music and the 2010 Columbia Summer Winds Outdoor Composition Contest for Metropolitan Overture (first prize).  His works have been performed all over the world, including at the 2007 Conference of the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) in Killarney, Ireland.

Below is a performance of Metropolitan Overture by a Brazilian band from 2008: