The Art Of Programming 2003
A discussion held at WASBE Conference in Sweden in 2003 between Craig Kirchoff, Odd Terje Lysebo, Bobby Adams and Tim Reynish
Transcribed and edited by Tim Reynish
During the past century, and especially the last five decades, a host of incredible pieces for wind, brass and percussion have been created, most still not known in our festivals, radio programmes or even on disc. Why is the public perception of Wind Orchestra music still that its natural home is only in ceremonial, education or entertainment?
Perhaps we shall never live down the name of "band" - "band" has connotations that we cannot escape, and perhaps we need to re-brand ourselves and use the terms wind orchestra or wind ensemble, symphonic winds, wind sinfonia or whatever, but somehow the "Wind Ensemble of the Coldstream Guards" does not have the same ring.
When Ignorance Is Bliss
Another big problem for me is the ignorance of the "profession" about our repertoire. Many great works for wind are not published and are not programmed regularly. I would love to see WASBE or some other body representing the world of wind music, engage a public relations officer who regularly made contact with the musical press, with radio and television, with festivals, agents, administrators, conductors, professional ensembles, conservatoires, to keep them informed of new commissions, new recordings, new initiatives.
All of us tend to play safe when we programme in case the Honours Band is less good than last year, or the wind ensemble we are conducting is not as good as it sounds on disc. We pick music which we are sure will work, perhaps without exposed solos, perhaps indeed scoring with safe doublings, as in the more traditional middle-of-the-road repertoire. Also, whereas our orchestral colleagues tend to guest conduct an entire programme, we will guest conduct one or two pieces, so that the programmes tend to be less well-planned as a whole entity, but turn out to be a gallimaufry of periods and styles, dependant on the occasion or the whim of a couple of conductors rather than the artistic growth of the players and audience.
Thus my suggested title for the WASBE Wednesday discussion in 2003 was Compromise. We compromise the artistry of our programme selection according to the event (attracting alumni, getting a big audience through a "pops" formula, following thematic links which lead us into less than excellent music.) We compromise our artistry by agreeing to programme a new work which might turn out to be terrible, or by working with a faculty member on a really poor concerto,because he/she knows no better solo repertoire for that instrument. We compromise our artistry by relying on tried and trusted old favorites which now, viewed objectively, need to be replaced by better pieces. We compromise our artistry by recklessly mixing genres, playing masterpieces by Holst or Hindemith, Schoenberg or Schwantner, alongside old-fashioned transcriptions of standard orchestral repertoire or brilliant Hollywood-style arrangements of hit tunes from film or musical and we must include a march because that is part of our tradition.
When the United States Marine Band followed a great performance of Lincolnshire Posy, (itself a suite of six short movements), with marches as encores, I found this completely satisfying and natural. When the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Holland played Daphnis and Chloë, and the Dallas Wind Symphony played Symphony in Bb of Hindemith, I did not need a Sousa march. One or a group of them would in my view have been appropriate earlier in the programme. I believe that our pre-occupation with playing "something for everybody" or "sending people home with something they can whistle" results often in programmes which sound mixed messages to the public.
The average music lover is given a clear choice by orchestras, and can go to a concert concert that he/she will hear a traditional classic/romantic/modern programme, a "pops" programme, an experimental programme or a park programme. With our continuing tradition of compromise, our concerts are too often an uncomfortable mélange of styles.
Bobby Adams once said to me apropos the band world
"The distinction should not be between Band and Orchestra but between Art and Craft".
I think that in the art of programming, this distinction is of paramount importance, and at whatever level we are working, we must try to seek out works which demonstrate the former rather than the latter."
Craig Kirchhoff, Odd Terje Lysebo, Bobby Adams and Tim Reynish on Criteria for Planning Programmes.
CRAIG KIRCHHOFF, Chairperson The title of the this session in your programme is maybe just a little misleading; what we are going to do today is to revisit some of the things we have done in the past.
Back in San Luis Obispo we had a session called The Quest for Quality Repertoire, the intersection of aesthetic criteria and personal taste. In Lucerne the session was called The Art of Programming; in a sense what we would like to do is to continue that discussion, and I would like to thank my colleagues, at the end of the table Tim Reynish from England, Odd Lysebo fromNorway and Bobby Adams from the United States. What I would like to do is to provide a framework of discussion that both you and they can react to, and the idea is that we would like to encourage open dialogue as we continue through this process.
First, may I make a few observations on programming that I have come to conclude over the years. One is probably at least equal to anything else that we do, that our programmes are truly reflective of our depth as musicians and our philosophy about music making. There is that old saying " we are what we eat", and in a sense "we are what we play"; and the other thing that I have noticed, and I don't know how my colleagues feel, but the longer I do this, the task of programming does not get any easier. We certainly have more repertoire to choose from than we had ten years ago, but the task of artistically building a programme is still a great challenge.
For the sake of the conversation I would like to talk about two things, that is the craft of programming and then the artistry of programming and for me the craft of programming in its simplest sense is knowledge of the repertoire. I think with the craft of programming, there are very definite expectations that we have to live up to; the very obvious expectation is that we have to continue attending workshops, we have to continue going to symposiums, to learn more about that music which directly influences our teaching and conducting. And in the spirit of what Gary Hill spoke about on Monday, I think there are some less obvious responsibilities that are extremely important to this process; maybe one of the less obvious responsibilities is that all of us have to stay close to great music, we have to continue to attend concerts by great ensembles and by great artists, and for some of us that is very difficult because we may not live close to metropolitan areas. But we live in an era where we have available to us wonderful recordings and DVDs of great artist making great music, and I think that perspective of being close to great music is something that is very important in this process of programming.
The other thing too is that we need to continue listening to and investigating music that is indirectly related to what we do. In other words it's listening to the great choral music, listening to the great orchestral music, listening to any great music. I have to think, that if one, and I could come up with one hundred, with two hundred examples, if one knows the Vespers of Rakhmaninov, or if you've listened to the piece Sparrows by Joseph Schwantner, or if you've listened to The Lark Ascending of Vaughan Williams, the effect of those pieces has to imprint on what we believe about music and therefore how we programme
The other thing which maybe is less obvious, is that all of us have to continue to read about our art; for me the simplest thing is maybe that Sunday edition of the New York Times, so that I'm reading about what is happening in the great centers in the world of music, I can keep up with all of that, again its referring to art outside of our individual discipline,
Music Is Revelation
I mentioned on Monday, and this in a sense a recapitulation, there are two beliefs that are very important to me as I go about this business of programming. My favorite quote is by Herbert Blomsted who said that "Music is revelation", meaning that music has something to say and perhaps more importantly and more poignantly, music has something to reveal and for me that points me to very distinct questions.
The first question is what is it that we are trying to express, to communicate to our audience with each piece? But more importantly, the task of today is what is it that we are trying to communicate to our audience through an entire programme, what emotional space or perhaps even intellectual space do we want to leave our audience in at the end of our concerts. And so I would propose to you the artistry, not the craft, the artistry is manifested through the architecture, the structure of our programmes.
I want to read something to you from the last WASBE Newsletter, and these are the words of Karl Amadeus Hartman, and he was reflecting about feelings that were very important to him that were the basis of his Symphony no 1 which was written in 1933; these are words expressing feelings about the difficulties of the artist in Germany in the Thirties
I sit and look upon all the sorrows of the world and upon all oppression and shame. I see the working of battle, pestilence, tyranny I see murders and prisoners, I observe the slights and degradation cast by arrogant people upon the poor, all the meanness and agony without end I sit and look out upon, and see and hear.
Now this is an obvious example but for a discussion I think it is a very important one. The question is for me, that is the revelation, that is what he is trying to communicate, and I would propose that artistic programming is programming that will enhance, and project those feelings that Hartman is trying to communicate.
On the opposite side of the coin, depending upon how we structure that programme, what comes prior to that piece, what comes after that piece, will either enhance that or will diffuse that and so again how we set the programme up, how we "architect" the programme has a great deal to determine the communication of what that composer intends to feel. The other belief that keeps motivating me to think very carefully about programming is that I believe very strongly that live music requires three things, the composer, the performer, and most important for me, it requires some kind of emotional response from the audience, and so for me that has great implications for the music I select, great implications for how I rehearse, and of course for how I programme.
One last thing I want to say before I pass the mantle to my colleagues here - this is a beautiful quote, I mentioned Eric Stokes on Monday and this is Eric's Testament. He said:
Music is for the people, for all of us the dumb, the deaf, the dogs and jays, the quick the hand-clappers, dancing moon-watchers, brainy puzzlers, abstracted whistlers, finger snapping time keepers, crazy, weak, hurt, weed keepers, the strays. The land of music is everyone's nation. Her tune, his beat, your drum, one song, one vote.
(.And this is very beautiful, the next paragraph) Composers are called to serve the people not themselves, and performers are called to serve by presenting composers' works in distinctive ways, and the people are invoked to witness the service which is celebration, celebration of our time spun being, the inevitable dance of sound-spelled life.
I would take this just one step further and put the caveat that in addition to the performers' responsibility of presenting distinctive interpretations is distinctive programming, artistic programming, so that again the message is clearly communicated.
So why don't we go ahead to my three colleagues and then have the opportunity for you all to weigh in
ODD TERJE LYSEBO Its always very difficult to speak after Craig, because I believe so much in what he is saying, he says so many nice things about programming and I really am very concerned about programming, I speak now as a Norwegian conductor, as a European conductor, and I speak from the Norwegian tradition and maybe the European tradition, and it is a bit different than the American tradition I also speak from thirty years of programming contemporary music, a lot of contemporary music.
I had a very lengthy speech in Lucerne about this, so I will not repeat everything said there, but the most important for me is the art, to programme is an art, it is not a science, and you, the conductor, have to be an artist I have to be a musician, and I have to believe in what I am doing, I have to believe in the music, I must say something, if I do not have anything to say, than I should shut up
When a young man, or girl, come up to me and asks, "Do you think I should be a musicians, I am not quite sure if I should be a musician", I say to them it is very clear, "If you are not sure, you shouldn't be a musician". So my point is that you have to know what you are doing and you have to believe in the music. You do not have to say "I think the audience will like it and that's why I play it." My opinion is that I play it because I have something to say with the music and I believe in it, it is great music for me, and that's why I like to play it.
Of course, not everything is very great, but if its not, and I have nothing to say about it, than I shouldn't play it, so it always goes back to me as a conductor. In Lucerne, I was very concerned about training the audience; we must not give the audience only what they want, but also what we know that they need. That's very important for me, and you can then say we need money and have to take care of education, we have to play educational and pedagogic music. OK, but if its only pedagogic or educational, why should we then play it? It is very nice music also, there is pedagogic music made by artists that can get small young kids to say something to the audience, and that's most important, because we need the audience, we have to take care of the audience, but the audience will not be there if you don't have not anything to say to them.
Many orchestral audiences don't like contemporary music I have been to many concerts, by for instance the New York Philharmonic or the Chicago Symphony, and there is a contemporary piece at the beginning and the hall is not very crowded, and then after that there is probably a Mozart Symphony or piano concerto, a lot of people are entering in between the numbers and listening to the next piece.
Why? They are not trained, we started with the audiences, with the people who go to the school band concert, the elementary band concert, and its there in 20 years maybe we can help those people who are afraid of contemporary music in the symphony orchestra.
You have probably heard the story about Arnold Schoenberg - he lived in New York for a time and a friend had arranged a concert with his music and he came up to him after the concert and was very concerned. "I am so sorry there are only fourteern people at the concert, I am so ashamed", and Schoenberg said "Fourteen people! Are there fourteen people in the world who would like to listen to my music? I am very happy".
That's what some great composers are thinking and we should also think that maybe if we have something to say , we do not always have to say it to everybody, because if what we say is important, people talk to each other and we are contacting more and more.
We must consider what we are putting together in a concert. In Norway, we have that big problem that people think the band should do everything in one concert. and the pieces are killing each other. We must be so careful that even if we play only two numbers in a concert we must\ see that these two are living together and not killing each other. We have a tendency - I have a tendency to play too much in a concert because I have too much to say. But if I speak too much, people will not listen. My main point is that we must look at programming as an art and we must be artists not only in playing the music but also in programming and we must train our audiences.
Warren Benson; who is a great composer, said once "There's only one reason to take the instrument out of the case and that is to make beautiful songs", and that we shall do even if we play contemporary music because if we play contemporary music also with beautiful songs, if we have something to say, people will be listening.
BOBBY ADAMS Well, as you know its an incredibly broad topic; as you work and hear these different thoughts, your mind runs from corner to corner with things that you want to say, and they are said by others and you jump to the next part. I try to approach everything that is important to me from what Wayne Rapier was talking about, the fundamental. I believe that one of the earliest considerations is the music we are talking about... is it "art" music, or music that is not art, because art music has a separate function. The second thing is how important is art in the lives of humans,... to me it is as important as life and death, it s a fundamental need of humans. Julian Johnson wrote in his fairly new book, Who Needs Classical Music, that Art shares the role with man, man has the need to be more than what he/she is. There is a fundamental striving to be more, and Art is about the same thing. Its about being more. Art is a way in which we express that need to be more.
So if we are dealing with art, then there is more in the composition than what is on the page.You all have heard the Mahler quote that "what is important about music is not what is on the page, it is what is beneath the page" and to me all of the study and practice involving techniq,ue and knowledge all has the purpose that when you get to Art Music you have then the knowledge and skills to start the probing art test of unlocking what is in that music below the surface. I believe that that which is there is what John Dewey says is experience. Every composition, every art composition, has embodied in it by the composer an experience that has to be re-created to be experienced to its fullest possibility.
Marcel Proust, the great French novelist, also talks about that in his novel saying that each art composition is indeed a universe to itself. What you experience if you internalize and probe out all of George Washington Bridge, is that the experience that is there does not exist anywhere else ever, nor will it ever exist anywhere else. When I experience that, I want the players in my ensemble more than anything else to experience that which I know is there. My job is to get to them an experience that I relate to, and I know other people relate to, so I don't doubt that the students will relate to it, they will relate to it because they are humans
Then when we take that to the stage when we are trying to communicate to the audience in that one piece is that experience. And if we are successful, and they are open to it, but the burden is on us as performers. I've told my players, even in the middle of a concert "Do more, its our job, we've got to get the message to them, they don't have to be here, they don't have to accept", but if we believe strongly enough in what we are doing and we love it so much, its worth all the time, the sweat and the agony.
Band Is Not Fun
I have a little aside, I have a problem with fun, I have to admit, and I have talked about it a lot. Band is not fun nor does it need to be. We rehearse five hours a week, they have all those other hours to have fun, they have fun and I don't think they come to my class to have fun, they come there to experience things that change their lives.
I live in Florida, I used to live on the West Coast and there was the great Mollender, who was the wirewalker. and his quote was that "living is walking the wire... everything else is waiting". But I don't believe he would ever be up in the air 200 feet above ground on the edge of life itself, thinking "Wow, this is fun." It cannot be more than what it is, and what it is is life, and what art is to the artist is life. and so no matter what the programming is, it has to have something to say; what can it say if it is not attached to the reality of human experience on this planet, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes sad, all these different things are part of the human condition and when those pieces relate to that they are fulfilling a fundamental need.
I am so taken with Wayne Rapier; because of my wife I am having to learn oboe stuff, and when we were in France, the group of us that he carries round the country, we went to the Lorée factory, and all these people including Wayne and other professionals of the highest level are trying out the instruments and I watched them go through this. My wife comes running in to Wayne and says "Man the F sharp is a little stuffy"; the amount of examining for perfection in that instrument is as high as I could discriminate, but then I go to hear other people's ensemble and they play the first note and it sounds like breaking glass as compared to the perfection that we demand of individual instruments, and I'm thinking why, if you are going to perform music at the highest artistic level. And if its music, why does the performance practice of western music fall so high, because to get the experience of the music, it has to be played that well, the intonation is what helps bring that forth, if its not in tune you don't get the whole potential of that is there
So I think its all about serious business, when the Super Bowl is won, the four hundred pound guys have been hitting heads all afternoon, it may be fun then, but this is our work and I think that kids want to work, and I think they want to experience, so I think in the programming I don't play anything that I don't have a mad love affair with. If I don't love a piece before I start, I don't play it There are only so many pieces that you can play during your life, I'm not going to waste time playing something if I don't think I can follow it up. I think the kids will love what I love, and I thing the audience will love what I love. When you put your concert together, it depends on whether you re a community band, or school l band or college band, you recognise that each individual player has needs, the ensemble has needs, the audience has needs, the conductor has needs, and you as the leader are tending to those needs. and then as you satisfy those needs, you enter the process of putting those pieces together... if its good music it will all fit.
TIM REYNISH First some housekeeping! I am in trouble for not opening the promised CD library, and it will open today. There are one hundred discs, based mainly around WASBE composers, or music that is being played this week. I would like to mention a few of those composers whose music I wish we were playing this week.
First there is Bernard van Beurden, some of you may remember his great Mass which was played in Valencia, we have played nothing of his since There is a fantastic Concerto for soprano saxophone and wind ensemble, and another concerto for bassoon - there are now at least three good concertos for bassoon and ensemble, Bernard van Beurden, Eric Ewazen, and the Finnish composer Lehto.
Csaba Deak is a stalwart member of WASBE, and we hoped to perform his work for choir and wind orchestra Memento Mare; there will be a performance of his Recollection. If you do not know it, please listen to his great Clarinet Concerto, we should play more of his music.
Daron Hagen is a composer worth listening to, he wrote an opera for CBDNA, Bandana, which met with a lot of criticism, I watched a video of it last November, found it very powerful and dramatic, and I wondered how many of the critics had been to a contemporary opera in the last ten years.
There is a German composer, Richard Heller, a writer on a massive scale, with works which are so huge that they are difficult to programme, Jukka-Pekka Lehto and Linkola, both from Finland, are very strong composers, Marco Pütz, who is here with us. I think his music at different levels is terrific, especially for the large-scale community bands. There are many works by Dana Wilson, who joined WASBE recently. These are composers whose works are not commercial, who perhaps do not have an active publisher to promote them, and some of their music is in the Conference library.
The original title for this session is Compromise, and you may wonder why I suggested this topic. We probably compromise too much in out own programming, and my colleagues have eloquently insisted that we love the music that we play, but we owe it to composers of integrity to respect their music, even perhaps if it compromises our own artistic standards.
I think the performances so far in the Conference have been very strong. Yesterday there was a performance of Wind in the Willows, and one of our colleagues was irate at having to listen to what he called "film music" and he wanted to boo. "If you can boo the Rite of Spring, you should be able to boo anything else", he claimed. He didn't boo, but he walked out of one or two lighter concerts early, he didn't hear the rest of the programme. And then last night I met a guy who said "Wasn't that concert of Jim Croft's terrible, all that modern music, it set the wind band movement back ten years". My wife said "What do you mean, I expect you loved the afternoon concert of lighter music"; he said "Yes, I want to broadcast that concert." We got talking over a couple of beers, and he said "You're very honest, I'm very honest, I hate this modern crap"... but he stayed to listen to it and formed his judgement from experience, and of course from his prejudices.
That is the dilemma with WASBE, we cover such a wide range of interests, and I wish we did not fight each other, there is just so much music, for entertainment, for education, and its our job simply to lead. I think what has come out of these conversations is that we have to put out neck on the block and say "you know me, this is my belief". What is important is that you must write about this conference and say "Well, that is I enjoyed, this is community band music suitable for my group , it might be film music it might be traditional or avant garde but I loved it and it could be very useful."
My late mother came to a concert when she was about 88, and we played Philip Wilby's Sinfonia Sacra which is quite avant garde, with players moving in and out, percussion and brass echoing each other and fighting against the wind Messiaen-like chorales, it is really quite modern She loved the theatricality of it and I think that that is what I was talking about two of three days ago, belief and confidence. If the performance is good enough, as we heard last night with Florida State, whatever one thought about the emotional side of that concert, Jim Croft's last as Director, these were committed performances of terrific integrity, there were people weeping at the end of David Del Tredici's piece In Time of War. It has taken us five years to get that written, its David's first piece for wind ensemble, I hope he will write more, maybe he will write better pieces, maybe worse, it does not matter, out of twenty new pieces, if we get one masterpiece we are doing really well. It's the emotional response from players and audience that I am looking for.
Odd is right, we must look after the audience but at this stage we must risk playing to a few. I remember my music master telling us that he had studied with Hindemith on a summer course. At the start there were forty people, and Hindemith was so mean that on the next day there were about thirty, and he was even meaner, the next day he had only twenty, and by Wednesday there were six, and Hindemith came in and said "Good Morning, now we start working".
We talk about programming, we say we must play Sousa, we have to get an audience; I wrote a piece for Leon (Bly) some time ago about Haydn complaining about a small audience for a celebrity concert in London. I don't think that matters too much, it's the presentation and integrity of what we are doing, we are creating a repertoire for the future.
The other night we had a discussion until very late and we were talking about why I am no longer President of WASBE, and someone asked would it make make me happy, were we to develop vision and leadership and WASBE's role in the world of music. It really is nothing to do with me, I don't need WASBE, I am too old and I have all the contacts in world music that I want at whatever level, its what everyone else wants, how you see WASBE helping you as a professional in your professional life and growth; we now have fifty minutes to discuss this and really shape where we go and what we do. Out of all this repertoire, should we have the repertoire discs that we circulate around because we believe in that music.
I'll very quickly tell you how the bands and their programmes were selected, they were selected blind, we had no idea what bands had applied and we selected them on the basis of the discs and tapes they sent in and then we sent them four discs of music that we thought might interest them. Some of that music has been taken up in concerts or in repertoire sessions, Odd Terje Lysebo immediately wanted to play some of more interesting contemporary music, for instance a great piece by Robin Holloway; the commissioner said "I want a symphony like Mahler" . Robin wrote a twentyfive minute piece Entrance; Carousing; Embarcation which is admittedly difficult. The commissioner complained "This is too long and too difficult!" Holloway protested that Mahler is like that. It has hardly been played in the last ten years since Jerry Junkin did a workshop in Manchester in 1991. It is an extraordinary piece, string players, pianists and non-wind players love it, and maybe its time will come for wind orchestras in the next decade.
CRAIG We have time for comments or questions and interaction, which I think is the most important part of this session.,
KEITH KINDER I think its interesting to come to WASBE to hear new music, but I think it is important not only to make culture, but to preserve culture as well. It is important to keep playing those important standard works that we have
BOBBY I don't disagree with that - if those pieces are valuable, then its part of our mission to do that.
CRAIG I think its curious that some time ago the Grainger gem Ye Banks and Braes of Bonny Doon was on the verge of being taken out of print, Fred Fennell in his own singular way, crusaded for the piece to get it back in print. As Keith mentioned I do feel a very strong obligation to be committed not only to what is new but also to honour the past, which is why at the CBDNA convention in Minneapolis, I felt very committed to realizing a performance of Hill Song No 2, I felt very strongly about being committed to Hammersmith, those are masterpieces that I believe we cannot forget along this pathway. Once again, it's a matter of honouring the past while looking at the future, but there has to be that balance.
DENNIS JOHNSON Odd or Bobby touched on this, you talked about one piece killing another - could we discuss that further.
ODD I think I brought it up... if you look at a concert as a meal or as a friend, you cannot eat a big layer cake the whole evening, or you get ill. What I mean is, for instance, if I play a great contemporary piece, like Warren Benson's Symphony no 2 Lost Songs, (those who don't know it, it closes very very very soft and its great music) and after that I do Hello Dolly, then I kill Benson, and I find that happening in many programmes. We have seen it in this conference earlier with encores that in my opinion have ruined the whole concert. At a good restaurant, the chef is an artist, and knows what to serve after the meals.
JOHN O'REILLY I went to the Berlin Philharmonic last week, and heard the Berg Violin Concerto, they concluded the concert with the Overture to Fledermaus, for me that was great programming, a breath of fresh air to hear that orchestra play a fabulous contemporary piece, and of course the audience was a fairly sophisticated Berlin audience. I see nothing wrong, I don't know if I would do Hello Dolly after a contemporary piece, but I don't think you need to feel compelled to do all of one style.
TIM Yes, Hello Dolly! Those of you who were in Boston will remember an extraordinary programme, with a Phillip Wilby new piece Firestar, fairly contemporary, two movements of a work from Hungary, the world premiere of Richard Rodney Bennett's Morning Music, Hello Dollychoreographed with the piccolos, songs from Lehar, an Overture by Wagner, the promotion agent for Chesters who published the Wilby was sitting there with his head in his hands, he had never heard a Sousa-type mélange concert. We talked yesterday about Sousa programming music of all sorts, and I have a feeling that there is still a Sousa mentality in much of our programming.
CRAIG Jack Stamp wrote a piece called Past Time, it is what it is, a brilliant little piece, enormous craft, very witty, and if you know baseball and if you know that cultural setting and what that means, the piece is a wonderful piece of music that would be very inappropriate and not appreciated in a certain setting and I think that's what we are talking about, I think there are pieces of repertoire which simply do not work in a certain milieu of pieces put together. I had an interesting conversation with Michael Daugherty; I was recording Desi and trying to get a decision from Michael as to whether it should be F sharp or F natural, this was just before the CBDNA conference in Columbus, and the programme for that conference was a brass piece by Massaino, Karel Husa conducted his Concerto for Wind Ensemble, and the second half we had Robert Shaw who conducted the Hindemith Apararebit and the Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms, and Michael was adamant about trying to convince me that I should programme Bizarroon that same concert. I told Michael I didn't think that would work, it would not serve the piece and would not fit in to that programme. I am not saying Bizarro is not a good piece, but what I am saying is that in juxtaposition to these other pieces it does not serve the purpose of the entire programme.
I think that is what Dennis is trying to get to and that's where the artistry comes in, and that's where taste comes in and that's also where the risk comes in. I don't know who said this, but it's a great expression, I love it; Cannibals prefer those with no spines. meaning that we have to be ready to risk to stand up for what we believe in. I think one of the risks that all of us have to take going back to what Bobby was talking about is that if you believe passionately about a piece, and you work with great integrity to perform that piece with distinction, then we have to believe that it's a risk that the audience will be engaged by that piece. That is the risk that we are all charged with, as artists to take.
Warren Benson said every time you put a note down on paper, there's a risk that someone won't like it. some won't appreciate it but it's the risk that artists must take, and I think that we as conductors have to do too.
BOBBY Again as a fundamental, it doesn't matter what kind of group you're standing in front of, you are assuming a leadership role and therefore everything that you do responds to a real moral need in your group and yourself. I was a piano major and like all piano folk I had pieces in my folder from all historical periods. and in my University so do the string people, so do the choral people, everybody except for the band people, because its not there except for transcriptions. I believe in the fundamental need the kids have to be educated musically they have to play the music from those styles and periods, and so transcriptions are the only way I can get them there and so we do it because they need to play in that style particularly, and probably above the others, the Romantic because its so very expressive, and you need to do a lot of stuff that draws from them sand unveils their expressive instincts. so I think again, depending on the group and situation, that if you are charged with training of musicianship with young players, at least at undergraduate level, to be musicians they have to be able to perform that music, and I think we have the same responsibility to ensure that transcriptions are good, I just think that since it's a fundamental need in education, there's no debate about it.
(Gunther Schuller is on record as wanting to do an arrangement of the Eroica Symphony. Gary Hill did a fascinating programme for Craig's CBDNA conference which began with a Stokowski arrangement of a Bach Chorale Prelude, (Stokowski apparently made six arrangements to help the war effort.) I would like to see Johan de Meij, who is a great scorer, to do one or two pieces, he already has for instance Shostakovich Jazz Suite and perhaps he should be commissioned similarly to do certain pieces. Our problem is that a lot of the arrangements that are in our libraries are so very old fashioned, they are not great arrangements. The band that Norbert Nozy conducts do transcriptions of everything, Ravel, Stravinsky went there to hear their works played)
Tim Reynish September 2008
Since my last Conference with WASBE in 2003, I have continued to be amazed at the mix of great, good, mediocre and bad music which is played cheek by jowl in our wind programmes, but I think I know why. I have been teaching Wind Literature classes in Universities, and I found time and time again that my students knew nothing about music... the major works of the great classical composers were a closed book. A first run through of David Del Tredici's In Wartimerevealed that nobody in the wind orchestra recognized the quotation from Tristan und Isolde. A conducting student of mine who had specialized on his four year Music Ed. Course on Bass Clarinet knew nothing of the clarinet repertoire of Mozart, Weber or Brahms.
These same musicians after graduation will be a huge influence on their own students, but will be selecting repertoire by Holsinger, Maslanka, Bukvich, or Smith without knowing the canon of classics by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. As Frederick Fennell suggested,
We must learn to teach music - not band, not orchestra, but music itself... Choosing music is the single most important thing a band director can do, and is the only thing a band director can do alone.
Interpreting Specific Works