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CD OF THE MONTH

MUSIC FROM

ENGLAND, HUNGARY, LUXEMBURG, SPAIN and USA

UNITED STATES COAST GUARD BAND

Conductor Tim Reynish

12 February 2012

Leamy Concert Hall, New London CT

THE CHALLENGE

AN INTERNATIONAL APPROACH TO PROGRAMMING

If you were the conductor or manager of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and were charged with devising a festival of music from the past hundred years , you would probably look first at the American contribution of Gershwin, Copland, Schuman, Bernstein, Piston, Cage, Carter, Reich, Adams, Corigliano, del Tredici and Danielpour, and then put them into context against Hindemith, Bartok, Shoenberg, Lutoslawski, Ligeti, Berio, Stockhausen, Britten, Tippett, Gorecki, Paart, Takemitsu, Ades, Turnage, in fact you would take a world overview. With a medium such as the wind ensemble, still a minority love, still way down below symphony orchestra, opera, chamber music, jazz, R & B and folk in terms of critical interest and popular acclaim, we desperately need this international approach, in our repertoire and in our performance standards. We need as Gunther Schuller puts it “to get out of academia and enter the real world of international music.”

My programme for a Sunday afternoon concert on February 12th 2012 was primarily “on the light side”, carefully selected in conjunction with Commander Kenneth Megan and Chief Warrant Officer Richard Wymark, with the intention of introducing to the audiences in New London a range of unfamiliar music and composers, from Europe and the USA.

When writing the final work in our programme, Marcel Wengler posed the question:

How can you bridge the gap between so-called contemporary music and more popular music known and used much more widely, and how can you make the music for our time more accessible to the layman? Answering these questions was worth a try.

In the past three decades, since the founding of WASBE the World Association for Wind Bands and Ensembles, I have ceaselessly tried to answer this question through commissions and correspondence. I have corresponded with all eight composers on this disc, I have published four of the works and commissioned two.

THE COMPOSERS

In the past ten years, Kenneth Hesketh has developed an international reputation in many fields, but his canon of works for wind orchestra composed in the first decade of the 20th century places him amongst the most important composers for this genre. His Masque is an energetic overture, full of good tunes and exciting scoring, while an earlier work, Danseries, a four-movement work derived from Playford's Dancing Masters Tunes of the 17th century, has been followed by its sequel Danseries Set 2. Diaghilev Dances is a wonderful homage to the impressionistic ballets of the early 20th century, early Stravinsky, Debussy and Ravel, marvelously scored with great solo parts especially for subsidiary woodwind instruments. His Clouds of Unknowing is a richly scored work, with demanding parts for tuned percussion, piano, celeste and harp, a sound world unique in the wind ensemble medium, and was followed by the brilliant Vranjanka. Three other works emerged during 2004, Internal Ride, Whirilig, the Flute Concerto and The Gilded Theatre. He is prolific in orchestral and chamber music and was appointed composer in residence with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007.

Gyorgy Ranki drew his King Pomade Suites from his folk-opera of that name, recently revived at the Hungarian State Opera; think Bartok, Kodaly, Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Ravel for the influences, but above all the spirit of Hungarian folksong, Another fine work for wind with solo trombone is his witty Tales of Father Goose.

Bernard Gilmore has had a distinguished career as a horn player, university professor and composer at the highest level, and has spent too little time composing. He retired from the University of California at Irvine in 2006, and his scores are now available for research purposes at the UCI Special Collections Archive.

Ernest Tomlinson is undoubtedly the leading English composer of light music of today. He studied at Manchester University and the Royal Manchester College of Music, and after war service he worked in London and later back in Lancashire as a conductor, composer and arranger, writing a considerable body of works ranging from incidental music for radio, television and the theatre, to overtures, suites and rhapsodies and miniatures, as well as concertos, opera, ballet and works for choirs, brass and wind bands. In recent years he has housed the Library of Light Orchestral Music, and has made a number of recordings of this great British musical heritage for the label Marco Polo.

Basically self-taught as a composer, Luis Serrano Alarcón has emerged as one of the leading wind band composers of the decade. His works have been performed in over 25 countries, has been invited to conduct his own music in Spain, Italy, Singapore, USA and Colombia and has received commissions from major organizations and groups like the International Band Competition Villa Altea International Band Competition in Valencia, Saint Thomas University (Minnesota, USA) and The Philharmonic Winds (Singapore) among others. Among his works are Tramonto for solo cello and band, Duende, De Tiempo y Quimera and Memorias de un Hombre de Ciudad. He has recently completed a Horn Concerto and part three of a Trilogy on the voyages of Marco Polo.

The late Richard Rodney Bennett was one of the finest English composers of his generation, equally at home in opera, orchestra, chamber music , choral music, jazz or film (Murder on the Orient Express or Four Weddings and a Funeral. His Morning Music, was premiered at the 1987 WASBE Conference in Boston; the Royal Northern College of Music gave the world premiere of The Four Seasons in 1991 and the world premiere of the Trumpet Concerto in 1993. With with his delicious dectet Reflections, these make up a corpus of major works by one of the finest composers of the latter 20th century.

Adam Gorb is one of the leading young British composers of wind music today. His first work for wind was the exciting and exacting Metropolis (1993, Maecenas) which won the Walter Beeler Prize in 1994. Since then he has written the brilliant “post-Bernstein” overture, Awayday, (1996, Maecenas), a Euphonium Concerto (1997, Maecenas), Yiddish Dances (1998), Dances from Crete (2003), Farewell () and a number of works for less experienced bands, Bermuda Triangle, Bridgewater Breeze, Candlelight Procession, Over Hill Over Dale, Eine Kleine Yiddische Rag-music and the March of the Little Wooden Warriors. His most substantial work is a Percussion Concerto for Evelyn Glennie, The Elements (1998, Maecenas). Adam is Head of the School of Composition and Contemporary Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK.

This work by Marcel Wengler was recommended to me by none other than Hans Werner Henze. The complete work, Versuch uber einen Marsch is a witty exploration of the compositional possibilities of a typical German march. Wengler is a distinguished composer and conductor, with more than eight major works to his credit as well as a number of film scores. He has for some years been Director of the Luxemburg Music Information Centre.

THANKS TO MARK MORETTE

My good friend Mark Morette has continued to encourage my series of International Repertoire recordings, and with this disc, the seventh, I venture to suggest that for me the wind ensemble comes of age. I wrote about this concert:

This was quite easily one of the greatest musical experiences of my life with one of the best ensembles in the world. I have never encountered a group with so many fine soloists in each section, so many musical personalities all competing and contributing, in short an ideal group for making chamber music at the highest level, which is ideally what wind music is about.