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The Art Of Programming 2002 -
Variety Of Pace, Colour, Style, Emotional

First appeared in WASBE Newsletter December 2002, revised 26 August 2004 with a discovery of a rare Concerto for Baritone Saxophone and Band

A former editor of Winds challenged us all to send in our "ideal" programme for a band concert - bearing in mind the late John Paynter's injunction that band concerts should not last more than an hour. I would take issue with John on that - I would suggest that "loud" band concerts should last a lot less than an hour, and that a properly constructed concert with enough variety of pace, colour, style, emotion, should be accorded the dignity of including 80 minutes of music or so with an interval.

Us Marines In Lucerne

It is of course easy to make an imaginative programme if you have superb players. Timothy Foley in the 2001 WASBE Conference put together a great programme: I wrote in Clarino that

For me it was worth the journey and expense to hear the U S Marine Band in a cleverly balanced concert which ran from early 19th century Harmoniemusik to a brand new commission of a concerto for ten solo clarinets by David Rakowski, taking in masterpieces by Stravinsky (the new edition of the early version of Symphonies of Wind Instruments) and Grainger (Lincolnshire Posy, new to many Europeans).

  • Overture "William Tell"Rossini
  • Symphonies of Wind InstrumentsStravinsky
  • Red Pony Suite Copland
  • Ten of a KindRakowski (World Premiere)
  • Lincolnshire PosyGrainger

University Of Calgary At Cbdna

I heard another wonderfully constructed programme in Texas at the CBDNA Conference in 2001; the University of Calgary Wind Ensemble was conducted by Glenn Price, in music from the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and this century, music from USA, England, France and Cuba, and ensembles which varied between full band, the American Wind Symphony orchestral line-up and chamber ensemble.

  • Circular Marches (1997)Dan Welcher
  • Danceries (2000) Kenneth Hesketh
  • Colloquy (1967) William Goldstein - Solo trombone Alain Trudel
  • Interval
  • Hommage a l'Ami Papageno (1984)Jean Franüaix
  • Cancion de Gesta (1979)Leo Brouwer

It might be worth making a brief comment on this repertoire. The trombone concerto Colloquyhas been neglected for too long, and is a filmy jazzy score well worth resurrecting. (Goldstein wrote to me recently to say that he would welcome another commission! Why don't we follow that up?)

The Franüaix was a welcome reminder of the wit and charm of that composer's repertoire for ten wind, and the Brouwer was a wonderful find, a work scored for the saxophone-less ensemble of the American Wind Orchestra. This rich repertoire should be explored, and works can be judiciously re-scored if necessary, using saxophones to replace extra woodwind or brass.

Thinking about the bigger problem of devising a programme for school band, I worked on a reasonably easy "pops" programme recently which had fair amount of variety, a contemporary fanfare-like opener, a couple of Bach transcriptions, a "fun" genre piece, a couple of contrasting sets of dances and an "encore" piece.

  • Fanfare for a Golden SkyScott Boerma
  • Two Bach Settings arr. CaillietJ S Bach
  • Ghost TrainEric Whitacre
  • Illyrian DancesGuy Woolfenden
  • Yiddish DancesAdam Gorb
  • GalopShostakovich arr Hunsberger

Lyrical Contrast

After an energetic opening number or two, there are now several slow lyrical pieces to use, and four of my favorites to introduce contrast are:

Work Composer Publisher Grade
October Eric Whitacre Whitacre Grade 4
Autumn Walk Julian Work Shawnee Grade 4
Lagan Love Luigi Zaninelli Shawnee Grade 4
Amazing Grace Frank Ticheli Manhattan Grade 3

Voice & Wind

Another strong contrast can be introduced by use of the voice as soloist. I came across the Gilmore folk settings twenty years ago, fell in love with them immediately and have at last published them this year. The Stamp songs are reminiscent of Vaughan Williams and work very well, and I have only recently discovered the Zaninelli songs, gorgeously scored and including a beautiful setting of Amazing Grace. The Bernard Rogers Three Japanese Lyrics are also effective, and have recently been issued in a full score.

Work Composer Publisher
Four Maryland Songs Jack Stamp C. Alan Publications, Greensboro, NC
Five Gospel Songs Luigi Zaninelli Shawnee
Five Folk Songs Bernard Gilmore Maecenas
Three Japanese Dances Bernard Rogers Presser

Austria, Sweden, Uk & Usa

Unlike our orchestral and operatic colleagues, the wind band/ensemble tends to be very chauvinistic, but here is a nicely balanced international programme from the Linz Academy, beginning with early twentieth century, ranging through to the present day, and drawing on composers from Austria, England, Sweden and America.

  • Intrada for WindErnst Krenek
  • Concerto for Piano and Nine InstrumentsConstant Lambert
  • Waking Angels David Gillingham
  • Interval
  • Concertino for TromboneLars Erik Larssen
  • Nothingtoseeness*Peter WesenAuer
  • Movements from Divertimento for BandIra Hearshen

* for 2 clarinets and wind ensemble

I must admit that I do not know the Krenek nor the WesenAuer. The Lambert is a wonderful jazz-inflected masterpiece, the Hearshen is a great dance-inspired replacement for Bennett's Suite of Old American Dances, the Gillingham a tragic commentary on the problem of Aids; the Larssen is a standard for trombonists with orchestra; there are now in my view other contemporary pieces for trombone and wind band which are as good.

Trombone Concertos

The last CBDNA Conference unveiled Gorbs breezy Downtown Diversions, Goldstein's Colloquyand a brilliant arrangements of Richard Peaslee's Arrows of Time. Goldstein's work was commissioned by the US Army Band and premiered in 1967 to an audience of 12,000. Over the years it has proved popular with both symphonic and jazz players. It is available from Theodore Presser.

Arrows of Time is a concerto, available in three versions, with piano accompaniment, with orchestra and now with band. It is a three movement work heavily influenced by Bill Russo's trombone writing for the Stan Kenton Band, and it certainly deserves to enjoy a wider audience.

Thirteen Universities put together the consortium for Adam Gorb's Downtown Diversions, and the resultant concerto was a thoroughly entertaining, witty three movement work. Adam has a knack for writing in a populist idiom while eschewing cliché. The first movement begins with a cadenza for trombone, accompanied by percussion and clapping, before opening out into a brilliant up-tempo allegro reminiscent of Away Day and its homage to the American musical. The last continues this restless energy, with mixed metres and an un-academic jazz fugue. The ballad which these two sections enclose could have become sentimental, but for me is lyrical without being hackneyed.

Baritone Saxophone Concerto

Richard Peaslee's site in the Schirmer Catalogue led me to investigate his Chicago Concerto, a seventeen minute work written in 1997 for baritone saxophone and concert jazz orchestra or augmented stage band. It was commissioned by Bill Russo for Gerry Mulligan, has sections for improvisation. Downbeat Magazine wrote

a brilliant fresh work for jazz orchestra and its performance was given a standing ovation. Russo and Mulligan repeated the piece as an encore.

Grade 4/5 Music

In the orchestral concert hall, "one composer" programmes are often popular, and we can now build similar evenings. Here is a concert we gave at the RNCM in 1995, shortly before a recording of Edward Gregson's wind music; all four works might be tackled by a good county youth band or an ambitious amateur band, (the Ball Concerto accompaniment is aimed at the less experienced band) while yet providing interesting challenges for the conservatoire or university group.

  • Sword and the CrownEdward Gregson
  • MetamorphosesEdward Gregson
  • Saxophone ConcertoMichael Ball
  • Missa Brevis Pacem Edward Gregson

Another programme anticipating a recording for Chandos gave us a good balance of 19th and 20th century French music. Incidentally the Bozza is a super piece, a "French-nursery-rhymes-meet-Petrouchka" kind of piece, another excellent work from the American Wind Symphony commissions, while this original Saint-Saens leaves me constantly amazed that bands try to play arrangements of the same composer's orchestral music instead.

  • Occident et OrientCamille Saint-Saens
  • Children's OvertureEugene Bozza
  • Suite Franüaise Darius Milhaud
  • Symphonie Funèbre et TriomphaleHector Berlioz

Bastille Day

I learned a lot about programme building from Sir John Manduell, who before going to the RNCM had been with Radio Three and was for many years Director of the Cheltenham Festival. In 1994 we played a fine programme in Cheltenham Town Hall:

  • Suite no 1 in EbGustav Holst
  • Morning MusicRichard Rodney Bennett
  • Journey through a Japanese LandscapeThea Musgrave - World premiere Soloist Evelyn Glennie
  • Symphonie Funèbre et TriomphaleHector Berlioz

This was a memorable evening, with a capacity audience and a BBC deferred relay for perhaps the perfectly balanced programme, a "golden oldy", two of our commissions, a world-famous virtuoso soloist and the greatest French wind symphony - and the date had been carefully planned by my Francophile former boss - July 14th.