American Wind Symphony Orchestra

Large scale wind orchestra music with no saxophones or euphoniums

For me, one of the most useful and interesting sessions at the WASBE Singapore Conference was the session by Donald DeRoche of DePaul University, Chicago, on selected works from the commissioning series of Robert Boudreau. These works are often overlooked by us in programming, since the orchestrations mean not only laying off our saxophones and euphoniums, but often finding additional exotic instruments, such as one or more alto flutes, contrabass clarinet, or three contrabassoons.

Boudreau has now commissioned about 500 works, many from the world's finest composers, including William Bolcom, Henry Brant, Jean Françaix, Akiura Miyoshi and Krzystof Penderecki. Don's lecture provided us with a paper with reproductions of the first page of the score, and notes on orchestration and content, of fourteen selected works, or less than 3% of the total works.

Rhapsody for Trumpet and Wind Orchestra Alexandre Arutunian
Chorale and Ostinato Fantastico Blas Atehortua
Divertimento George Auric
Cancion de Geste Leo Brouwer
Doce Preludios Americanos Alberto Ginastera/Atehortua
Homenagen a Villa-Lobos Mozart Carmago Guarnieri
Symphony 4 Alan Hovhannes
Concerto for Wind Orchestra Nikolai Lopatnikoff
Concerto for Trumpet Andrei Petrov
Sinfonia Ned Rorem
Concerto Grosso Heitor Villa-Lobos
In the Memory of Clear Water Erki-Sven Tüür
Paeans and Dances of Heathen Iberia Carlos Surinach
Concerto for Percussion Toshiro Mayuzumi

The Cuban composer Leo Brouwer's Cancion de Geste is one of the most striking works of the catalogue, and it was programmed by Glenn Price at the Denton CBDNA conference. It is scored for 4444:4442:Perc. Harp. Piano, the standard forces of the ensemble, but a line-up which composers rarely adhere to. To make performance possible, I remember Glenn slightly re-scoring, even introducing saxophones to cover middle voices, and Don recommends use of alternative instruments where necessary, contrabass clarinet to replace contrabassoon for instance.

There are several works listed in the "for sale" catalogue which caught my eye. I was introduced to the great film composer the late Elmer Bernstein by Richard Rodney Bennett some time ago, and I wonder what his Pennsylvannia Overture is like. I am glad to see Candian composer Colin McPhee's gently beautiful Concerto for Wind Orchestra on sale ($500 however), and of course the Rodrigo Adagio. Two of my favori te composers have works in the catalogue which I would love to hear or conduct, Jean Françaix with Ode à la Liberté and Akira Miyoshi with Concerto for Timpani and Wind Orchestra, while it was at a WASBE Conference that I first heard Bozza's very funny Children's Overture.

From Don's lecture, I shall take away Divertimento by George Auric, like the Bozza a short witty opening number, the Twelve American Preludes by Ginastera arranged very idiomatically by Blas Atehortua, and the Sinfonia by Ned Rorem, and he reminded me of two works I have programmed and will again if I get the opportunity, Paeans and Dances of Heathen Iberia by Carlos Surinach and Concerto for Percussion by Toshiro Mayuzumi, both exciting scores.

When I last met Robert Boudreau, he was beginning a new initiative to commission a series of chamber works. One piece is listed in Don's paper and was extremely highly spoken of in Sweden, Mats Larsson Gothe's Clockworks for brass quintet, 2 pianos and solo timpani.

In 1991 WASBE Conference, the paper on this subject by Jeffrey Renshaw, now of the University of Connecticut, emerged as the definitive book on the subject, now woefully out of date but full of information. The American Wind Symphony Commissioning Project, A Descriptive Catalog of Published Editions, 1957- 1991, has over 370 pages and is carefully cross-referenced.

The American Wind Symphony Commissioning Project
Author(s): Jeffrey H. Renshaw
Greenwood Press 11/30/1991 $109.95 (£63.00)

Robert Boudreau
American Wind Symphony Orchestra
550 Plains Church Road
Mars, PA 16046
Donald DeRoche
Jeffrey Renshaw