“Music from the Written Word”

Sunday, October 26, 2014, 3:00 PM

McAfee Center, Saratoga

Dr. Edward C. Harris, conductor
Walter M. Mayes, narrator

Chicago Tribune March

W. Paris Chambers (1854 – 1913), edited by John Boyd

A self-taught musician, William Paris Chambers began studying music as a child and taught himself to play the cornet. It was his virtuosic ability and showmanship on the cornet that made him famous. He loved to add sparkle to his demonstrations. Sometimes he would play difficult solos with the instrument inverted, pushing the valves up instead of down. He was very humble about his accomplishments, explaining his talents saying "It is all very simple, really." Chambers traveled to Europe and Africa in 1905, where he performed for more than a year, being greeted with great acclaim everywhere. He conducted many Pennsylvania bands, including the local Newville Cornet Band and widely recognized bands from Martinsburg and Chambersburg. As a composer, Chambers wrote many cornet solos and almost 90 marches, many of which are considered the finest and most difficult works in the American march repertoire. He also composed waltzes, quadrilles, lancers, and overtures.

Written in 1892, Chicago Tribune is W. Paris Chambers' most popular march. It features interplay between melody and countermelody and brilliant running woodwind parts. The march is a bold statement that represents one of America's great newspapers.

Twelfth Night, A Musical Masque After Shakespeare

Alfred Reed (1921 – 2005)

Alfred Reed was born in New York City and began his formal music training at the age of ten, studying the trumpet. He performed in small hotel bands in the Catskill Mountains as a teenager. At age 17, he started working in the Radio Workshop in New York as a staff composer/arranger and assistant conductor. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at the outset of World War II and produced nearly 100 compositions and arrangements for band in less than four years of service. Reed later studied composition at the Juilliard School of Music. He attended Baylor University, serving as conductor of the Symphony Orchestra while he earned his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. He served as the executive editor of Hansen Publishing and taught at the University of Miami until his retirement in 1993. Following his formal retirement, he continued to compose and made numerous international appearances as a guest conductor.

Written in 2002, Reed's Twelfth Night, A Musical Masque After Shakespeare is a form of play-with-music commonly used in Shakespeare's time. Each of the five movements sets a different mood, giving insight into the characters and places in Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night; or, What You Will. The play is believed to have been written around 1601 as a Twelfth Night's entertainment for the close of the Christmas season. The Elizabethan festival of Twelfth Night involved the antics of a Lord of Misrule who would call for entertainment, songs and mummery. This leads to the general inversion of the order of things, including gender roles.

Of Sailors and Whales, Five Scenes from Melville

W. Francis McBeth (1933 - 2012)

Dr. McBeth studied music at Hardin-Simmons University, the University of Texas and the Eastman School of Music. He was Professor of Music and Resident Composer at Ouachita University in Arkansas and was appointed Composer Laureate of Arkansas in 1975. He conducted the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra from 1970 to 1973. He is one of the most often performed American symphonic wind composers of the past 30 years. His interest in the wind symphony has been a shaping force in its literature, and his style is strongly reflected in contemporary composers. His awards include the Howard Hanson Prize at the Eastman School of Music and many ASCAP Special Awards for his compositions.

Of Sailors and Whales is a five-movement suite based on scenes from Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby Dick. The piece was commissioned by and is dedicated to the California Band Directors Association and was premiered in February, 1990 by the California All-State Band, conducted by the composer. The work is also dedicated to Robert Lanon White, Commander U.S. Navy (Ret.), who went to sea as a simple sailor.

Huckleberry Finn Suite, Four Scenes from Mark Twain, Op. 33

Franco Cesarini (b. 1961)

Composer Franco Cesarini was born in Switzerland. He studied flute and piano at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory of Milan. He attended the Academy of Music in Basel, where he earned his teaching and soloist diplomas, followed by diplomas in conducting and composition. As a solo and chamber music performer, Cesarini has obtained recognition at numerous competitions, including first prize with mention at the Swiss competition of music performance in 1981. He has taught conducting and instrumentation at the Musikhochschule in Zürich and at the Conservatory of Switzerland in Lugano. In 2001 Cesarini became the composer-in-residence at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He has conducted the Civica Filarmonica di Lugano since 1998 and is the director of Lugano's music conservatory. Cesarini's compositions include pieces for concert band, chamber music, voice, piano, various solo instruments, string quartet, and symphony orchestra. He has received several awards, including the composition prize from Pro Helvetia, the Swiss foundation for culture. He is often invited to be a guest conductor and judge at national and international competitions.

American author Mark Twain spent seven years writing Huckleberry Finn, the book Hemingway claimed is the basis for all American fiction. The story features characters Huck and Jim and their quest for freedom on a raft on the Mississippi River. It portrays Twain's perspective of Southern society, which he saw as beset by greed, violence and coldhearted brutality in the guise of virtue. At the end of the book, Huck abandons the hypocrisy on which he has been raised, when he makes the shocking decision to go to Hell rather than to betray his friend Jim and send him back to slavery. This suite portrays all the adventure of this great romantic novel.

Symphony Nr. 1, "The Lord of the Rings"

Johan de Meij (b. 1953)

Johan de Meij was born in Holland and studied conducting and trombone performance at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. After graduation, he gained an international reputation as an arranger of classical and popular works. De Meij is an accomplished performer on trombone and euphonium in groups such as the Dutch Brass Sextet, the Amsterdam Trombone Quartet, and the Amsterdam Wind Orchestra.

When Johan de Meij began composing his Symphony No. 1, "The Lord of the Rings" in 1984, the fact that it would be his first symphonic work did not inspire confidence in the musical world. Peers commented, "You are working on a 45-minute symphony for wind orchestra? Forget it, nobody is going to play that." However, de Meij received the first prize at the prestigious Sudler International Wind Band Composition Competition for this piece in 1989. This work established de Meij's reputation as a top composer for wind orchestra, a rank he retains after more than 25 years, thousands of performances and dozens of recordings of this piece alone. It is based on the trilogy of that name by J.R.R. Tolkien. Originally created as a bedtime story for his children, the trilogy features the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, and thirteen dwarves, who steal the treasure of the dragon Smaug. It is in essence a story of the timeless battle between light and darkness. De Meij's symphony consists of five movements, each illustrating a character or an episode from the books. The final movement, "Hobbits," first expresses the carefree and optimistic character of the hobbits in a happy folk dance. The following hymn is symbolic of the determination and nobility of the hobbit folk. The symphony concludes peacefully in keeping with the symbolic mood of the last chapter, "The Grey Havens," in which Frodo and Gandalf sail away in a white ship and disappear slowly beyond the horizon.

The Washington Post March

John Philip Sousa (1854 – 1932), arranged by Keith Brion and Loras Schissel

The man who would become known as the "March King" was born in Washington, D.C., in the same year that his father, António de Sousa, enlisted in the Marine Band. Sousa began formal musical instruction at the age of six and appeared as a violin soloist at 11 years old. Two years later, Sousa began his career in the U.S. Marine Band, serving as an apprentice "in the trade or mystery of a musician." He served as leader of the Marine Band from 1880 to 1892, when he resigned to organize a band of his own. Along with his ability to organize and conduct superb musicians, Sousa developed a distinct flair for writing marches. He was a prolific composer who found themes for his compositions in his country's history, dedication events, military groups, and even newspaper contests. By the time of his death at age 78, Sousa had composed 136 marches, 15 operettas, 70 songs, 11 waltzes, and a variety of incidental works.

The Washington Post March was written in 1889 to promote an essay contest by the newspaper. The 6/8 meter happened to be appropriate for the new two-step dance; so, the march soon became the most popular tune in America and Europe. Sousa earned only $25 for its publication but was quickly inundated with requests for more marches.

SJWS program notes are compiled and 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
Sigma Alpha Iota
Johan de Meij's website
de haske online