Program Notes

A Child's World

Sunday, May 11, 2014, 3:00 PM

McAfee Center, Saratoga

Dr. Edward C. Harris, conductor
Walter M. Mayes, narrator
Peter Morris, trumpet

A Childhood Remembered

Rossano Galante (b. 1967)

A native of New York, Rossano Galante studied trumpet performance at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He went on to study film scoring at the University of Southern California, where he studied with composer Jerry Goldsmith (known for soundtracks to Alien, Gladiator, and the Star Trek movies). Galante’s film credits as composer or orchestrator include Big Fat Liar, Scary Movie 2, and Tuesdays with Morrie. He has received commissions from the Amherst Chamber Orchestra, the Hofstra University Symphonic Band, the Nebraska Wind Symphony, and the Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestra.

A Childhood Remembered was performed at the 2013 Midwest Band Clinic by the Lockport Township High School Wind Symphony of Illinois. According to the composer’s program notes, the piece “was inspired by my late partner Douglas Howard Vought, a very gentle, kind-hearted man…Although the music evokes joy, energy, innocence, and hope, there is the slightest undercurrent of sadness…I believe all of us would like to re-live those joyous moments of our childhood, so close your eyes and let the music take you back to that simple time of life.”

A Trumpeter’s Lullaby

Leroy Anderson (1908 – 1975), arranged by Philip J. Lang

Famous for his “concert music with a pop quality” (his own words), Anderson possessed skill in technique and a rich melodic gift, as well as an engaging sense of humor. He was particularly successful in creating descriptive pieces that effectively borrowed sounds and rhythms of the extramusical world, such as the ticking of a clock, the clicking of a typewriter, and the ringing of sleigh bells. Leroy Anderson first studied music with his mother, who was a church organist. He earned a BA degree in music and an MA degree in foreign language at Harvard University. As a student, he conducted the Harvard Band from 1928 to 1930. His musical career included positions as music instructor at Radcliffe College, band conductor at Harvard, church choir director, organist, conductor, and composer-arranger. His works in the “encore” category have few equals. Leroy Anderson was one of the leading arrangers for the Boston Pops Orchestra and frequently served as the orchestra’s guest conductor.

This delightful composition for solo trumpet and ensemble lives up to the definition of a lullaby: a song to quiet children or lull them to sleep. The gentle opening section “rocks” the child to sleep. A more lively section recalls the child’s dreams of active play before the original tempo returns, and the child is fast asleep. Today our soloist Peter Morris performs this piece featuring his own original cadenza.

Suite: The Children’s Corner

Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918)

Born in Paris, Debussy began taking piano lessons at age seven. He was admitted to the Paris Conservatory when he was ten years old and began composing two years later. In 1880, Tchaikovsky’s patron, Madame von Meck, hired Debussy to tutor her children in piano. He traveled with her family through Italy, Austria and Russia. He was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1884 but soon afterward rejected his Germanic-based training, turning toward Russian and even Javanese melodies. His finest instrumental works, including La Mer, Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun, and the opera Pelleas and Melisande, predate his piano pieces and established his reputation. Interaction with the impressionist art movement and the influence of modern French poetry contributed to Debussy’s style, in which formal structure becomes less important, while mood, atmosphere, and color assume greater significance. Debussy is considered to be the most influential French composer of his generation and the founder of modern musical impressionism. He wrote, “I am more and more convinced that music, by its very nature, is something that cannot be cast into a traditional and fixed form. It is made up of colors and rhythms.”

Debussy dedicated The Children’s Corner to his five-year-old daughter, Claude-Emma. The original suite was published in 1908, and three of the original six selections are included in this arrangement. “Serenade for the Doll” portrays a little girl softly singing to her favorite companion. The animation of the piece follows the changes in the imagination of the child. “The Little Shepherd” depicts a vignette with a toy shepherd and sheep. The oboe and flute echo the sounds of the field and forest. Debussy had great enthusiasm for the American cakewalk dance style, reflected in the rhythm and vitality of “Golliwogg’s Cake Walk.” It is said that Debussy originally heard the tune played by the Grenadier Guards in London and developed it into a musical description of a golliwogg, a rag doll of the late 19th century.

Aesop’s Fables

Scott Watson (b. 1962)

Scott Watson studied composition at Temple University. He teaches instrumental and elective music in the Parkland School District in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and teaches music education/music technology courses for Villanova University, Cairn University, and Central Connecticut State University, and applied composition for Valley Forge Christian College. His book Using Technology to Unlock Musical Creativity focuses on project-based creative music learning facilitated by technology. Watson has composed concert, radio, and theater music and has received recognition for his work from ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, the American Music Center, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Aesop’s Fables, Watson’s four-movement piece for band and narrator, was commissioned by the Wind Ensemble of West Chester University in Pennsylvania. The journal of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association said of this work, “What a sheer delight these wildly contrasting settings of the Fables are to audiences of all ages. Watson has taken four familiar episodes and brought them to life... The work has a very wide audience appeal — story lines and imaginative musical interplay captivate children and adults alike. It is without a doubt the finest programmatic/narrative that we’ve ever come across for band.”

The Seal Lullaby

Eric Whitacre (b. 1970)

Eric Whitacre began playing piano at an early age and played keyboards in high school. He played trumpet in the marching band but was kicked out for bad behavior. Despite this beginning, Whitacre became a music major at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and later earned a master’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music. He composes film scores and pieces for chorus and band.

About The Seal Lullaby, the composer writes, “In the spring of 2004 I was lucky enough to have my show Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings presented at the ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop. The workshop is the brainchild of legendary composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell), and his insights about the creative process were profoundly helpful. He became a great mentor and friend to the show and, I am honored to say, to me personally. Soon after the workshop I received a call from a major film studio. Stephen had recommended me to them and they wanted to know if I might be interested in writing music for an animated feature...the studio heads had always wanted to make an epic adventure, a classic animated film based on Kipling’s ‘The White Seal’... Kipling begins his tale with the mother seal singing softly to her young pup. (The opening poem is called ‘The Seal Lullaby’). I was struck so deeply by those first beautiful words, and a simple, sweet Disney-esque song just came gushing out of me. I wrote it down as quickly as I could, had my wife record it while I accompanied her at the piano, and then dropped it off at the film studio. I didn’t hear anything from them for weeks and weeks... Finally, I called them, begging to know the reason that they had rejected my tender little song. ‘Oh,’ said the exec, ‘we decided to make Kung Fu Panda instead.’”

Children’s March, “Over the Hills and Far Away”

Percy Aldridge Grainger (1882 – 1961), revised by Frank Erickson

The son of an architect in Australia, Grainger was a precocious pianist. He gave a series of concerts at the age of twelve and used the earnings to study in Frankfurt, Germany. He came to the United States in 1915, enlisted as an Army bandsman at the outbreak of World War I, and became a U.S. citizen in 1919. It was during his stay in England that Grainger began collecting and arranging folk songs and country dances. He tried to retain the original flavor of folk songs and their singers by strictly observing their peculiarities of performance, using composition techniques such as varying beat lengths and parallelism.

Children’s March, “Over the Hills and Far Away” sets a sunny, carefree mood. Many of the tunes evoke familiar folksongs, but they are original compositions. Grainger gave this piece an enigmatic subtitle, “for my playmate beyond the hills,” but he never said who this playmate was. Grainger believed that the lower octaves of the band and the larger members of the reed families offer the greatest musical expression. He made liberal use of instruments not typically heard in military band compositions, such as the bassoon, English horn, bass clarinet, contrabassoon, and the lower saxophones. Additionally, research by Frederick Fennell supports Grainger’s claim that this is the first composition for band using the piano. Grainger conducted the premiere of this wind band arrangement at Columbia University in 1919. During the recording of this piece by the Goldman Band in 1957, Grainger played the piano part himself.

Joy Revisited

Frank Ticheli (b. 1958)

Frank Ticheli received his Bachelor of Music in composition from Southern Methodist College and his Master’s Degree in composition and Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Michigan. He is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Southern California and is the Composer-in-Residence of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. He has composed works for band, wind ensemble, orchestra, chamber ensembles, and the theatre. Ticheli has earned many prestigious awards and scholarships, and The New York Times has described his music as “lean and muscular and above all, active, in motion.”

Joy Revisited was commissioned by the Longmont High School Band in Colorado. About the piece, the composer writes, “Joy, and its companion piece, Joy Revisited, are the results of an experiment I have been wanting to try for many years: the creation of two works using the same general melodic, harmonic, and expressive content. In other words, I endeavored to compose un-identical twins, two sides of the same coin – but with one major distinction: Joy was created with young players in mind, while Joy Revisited was aimed at more advanced players... Joy Revisited moves faster, develops ideas further, and makes use of a wider register... Both come from the same essential cut of cloth, both were composed more or less simultaneously, and both were born out of the same source of inspiration. In short, Joy and Joy Revisited serve as two expressions of the feelings experienced by one expectant father (who happens also to be a composer) on one wonderfully anxious and exciting day.”

A Child’s Garden of Verses, Suite for Band

Ryan Fraley (b. 1973)

Ryan Fraley studied music theory and composition at the State University of New York at Potsdam and Ball State University in Indiana. He has taught courses in composition, arranging, computer music engraving, and music performance at the high school and college levels. Fraley works frequently as an adjudicator, guest composer, and guest lecturer.

A Child’s Garden of Verses, Suite for Band was commissioned by the composer’s friend Tom Thomas, director of bands at Mason County Central High School in Scottville, Michigan. The original book, A Child’s Garden of Verses, is a collection of poetry for children by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, originally published in 1885 under the title Penny Whistles. Later editions of A Child’s Garden of Verses also include prose and poetry by other authors. Mr. Thomas chose three poems that he and his brother enjoyed most as children.

“Butterfly’s Ball” is a musical depiction of the 1802 poem “The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast” by William Roscoe. It tells the story of a party for insects and other small animals. The playful nature of the piece features expressive melodies and a whirlwind of sounds, colors, and textures to evoke the fairy-tale imagery of the poem.

“Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” was inspired by Eugene Field’s poem of the same name. The three characters symbolize a sleepy child’s blinking eyes and nodding head. The music quietly builds into a lush chorale setting before slipping back to a still ending, with the sound of bells to add color.

The 1887 poem “Summer Sun” was included in Stevenson’s original collection. A melody Stevenson composed on his penny whistle provides the inspiration for this movement, with a new rhythmic feel to capture the bright mood. Stevenson lived in Saranac, New York, very near where Hungarian composer Béla Bartók later lived and composed his Concerto for Orchestra. There is a brief melodic reference to the concerto at the end of “Summer Sun.”

Prayer and Dream Pantomime from “Hansel and Gretel”

Engelbert Humperdinck (1854 – 1921), transcribed for band by Joseph E. Maddy

Engelbert Humperdinck studied the piano as a young child and produced his first composition at the age of seven. His parents disapproved of his plans for a career in music and encouraged him to study architecture, but he enrolled in the Cologne Conservatory in 1872 at age 18. In 1876 he won a scholarship to further his studies in Munich, and in 1879 he won the first Mendelssohn Award in Berlin. His career brought him into contact with Richard Wagner and subsequently with his family, as music tutor to the composer’s son, Siegfried. Humperdinck held various teaching positions and collaborated with theater director Max Reinhardt, providing incidental music for a number of Shakespearean productions in Berlin.

Humperdinck is best known for his fairy-tale opera, Hansel and Gretel. Richard Strauss conducted the premiere in Weimar in 1893, calling it “a masterpiece of the highest quality... all of it original, new, and so authentically German.” Humperdinck first composed four simple songs to accompany his nieces’ puppet show, later added a libretto written by his sister (loosely based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm), and began the complete orchestration in 1891. With its synthesis of Wagnerian techniques and traditional German folk songs, Hansel and Gretel was an instant success. The Royal Opera House in London performed it for their first complete radio opera broadcast in 1923. The “Prayer and Dream Pantomime” scene portrays the two children, lost in the forest, saying their prayers before falling asleep.

Disney at the Oscars

Arranged by John Moss

This medley features five Academy-Award-winning songs from some of Disney’s classic movies. Familiar tunes include “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” from Song of the South, “Chim Chim Cheree” from Mary Poppins, “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio, “The Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book, and “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid.

Little English Girl Symphonic March

Davide Delle Cese (1856 – 1938)

Italian composer Davide Delle Cese received early musical instruction from his godfather, Antonio Geminiani, a former theater conductor. He received further training at the Music Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella. At the direction of the Italian War Office while he was just 26 years old, Delle Cese scored all of the known national anthems for wind band. This commission took him three years to accomplish. Following his military service, he led bands throughout Italy before settling in Bitonto as resident bandmaster. He composed more than 400 works, including 35 marches, lyric works, waltzes, and mazurkas written specifically for band. After World War I, Delle Cese devoted most of his life to composing and teaching.

Delle Cese composed Little English Girl (L’Inglesina) in 1897, while he was bandmaster in Bitonto. It is his best-known work and is considered one of most popular marches in the world. With eight different sections of contrasting material, L’Inglesina is reminiscent of an operatic overture. It features lilting melodies, several euphonium countermelodies and woodwind obligatos. The march concludes with a “grandioso” strain typical of the grand march or promenade in spectacular Italian grand opera.

SJWS program notes are edited by Karen Berry from the composers’ notes, Band Notes by Norm Smith and:

Foothill College Symphonic Band
J. W. Pepper
The Wind Repertory Project
The International Percy Grainger Society
Eric Whitacre's website
The FJH Music Company, Inc.
MIT Concert Band
Scott Watson's website