Sunday, March 17, 2013
Fireman Performing Arts Center, Tabor Academy
235 Front St., Marion, MA
Tickets $10 (Students $5, Children 12 and under are free)
A concert of music from the Emerald Isle starts with a piece that samples the wealth of Irish folk songs. "An Irish Rhapsody" is a perfect starter for a concert entitled "Ireland: of Legend and Lore."
Cleveland-born Clare Grundman studied under Paul Hindemith, whom he credited for teaching him the practical techniques for composition and has over 70 published band compositions to his credit. His arrangements have brought the works of Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland to the band world. Grundman has also provided scores and arrangements for radio, television, movies and Broadway musicals. "An Irish Rhapsody" is one of Grundman’s most familiar pieces. It contains six songs of Ireland, including “I Know Where I’m Going,” “Shepherd’s Lamb Reel” and “Cockles and Mussels."
James Curnow received his training at Wayne State University in Detroit (B.S.) and Michigan State University in East Lansing (M. M.), where he was a conducting student of Dr. Harry Begian and a euphonium student of Leonard Falcone. He taught on the secondary school and college level for 20 years before retiring to devote full time to composition. He received the “Outstanding Educator of America” award in 1974, and the National Band Association “Citation of Excellence” in 1980. His "Dublin Sketches" is a tonal image of Ireland's capital and most populous city. Curnow captures the modern bustle as well as the steeped tradition that lies at every turn.
Robert W. Smith is one of the most popular and prolific composers of concert band and orchestral literature in America today. He has over 600 publications in print. As a conductor and clinician, Mr. Smith has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Europe and Australia. He is the principal conductor of the American Symphonic Winds and the American Festival Philharmonic Orchestra, professional recording ensembles based in Washington D.C. "Ireland: Of Legend and Lore" by Robert W. Smith is an original composition for wind band, which draws upon the vast riches of traditional Irish melodies. The composer has chosen several castles and/or colorful characters from Irish history and folklore and put their legendary deeds to music. Included in the composition are "Brian Boru’s March", "Grace O’Malley", "Sing Ah", "Courtly Dance" and "Battle of Cahir Castle".
Born in 1882, the son of an architect in Brighton, Victoria, Australia, Percy Grainger was a precocious pianist, and the proceeds of a series of concerts, given at the age of twelve, enabled him to go and study at Frankfurt for six years, after which he began his European career as a concert pianist, settling in London in 1901. He came to the U. S. in 1915 and enlisted as an army bandsman at the outbreak of World War I. He became a United States citizen in 1919. On August 6, 1959, Grainger wrote: "In setting "Molly on the Shore" I strove to imbue the accompanying parts that made up the harmonic texture with a melodic character not too unlike that of the underlying reel tune. Melody seems to me to provide music with an initiative, whereas rhythm appears to me to exert an enslaving influence. For that reason I have tried to avoid rhythmic domination in my music -- always excepting irregular rhythms, such as those of Gregorian Chant, which seem to me to make for freedom. Equally with melody I prize discordant harmony, because of the emotional and compassionate sway it exerts."
Grainger's "Irish Tune from County Derry" is based on a folk song collected by Miss J. Ross of New Town, Limavaday, County Derry, Ireland, and published in 1885. The original setting was an a capella version for mixed voices, which was much admired by Edward Grieg, with whom Grainger developed a strong friendship. Grainger’s knowledge of instrumental voicings lends richness to the sound and a blending of the interwoven melodies. This tune is familiar to many of us as “Danny Boy.”
Staff Sergeant Jason Nickell will take to the Tri-County stage and let us share in his wonderfully warm and musical trumpet playing. The Saint Louis, MO native and United States Air Force Band of Liberty member is equally at home playing with concert bands as he is with solo trumpet performance. James Curnow's published works now number well over four hundred. His most recent commissions include the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, the U. S. Army Band and the Kentucky Music Teachers Association/National Music Teachers Association. In his commission for The United States Army Band, he wrote "Concertpiece" for the trumpet and concert band which will be performed by Jason Nickell. This is a very exciting piece with an energetic opening statement. The pulsing eighth notes combined with the soaring trumpet melody paint a heroic picture. Eventually our ears are lead into a slower, more lyrical portion of the piece. It ends with a restatement of the opening theme and with the same high energy we hear in the beginning of the work.
In "Three Irish Songs", Robert W. Smith has captured the wide variety of folk themes from Ireland in three movements. The first movement is "A Jug of Punch", playful and humorous; the second "Deiren De", is a warm lullaby and the third is "The Beggarman", a traditional Irish song. Mr. Smith reminds us of the importance of traditional Irish song in the concert band repertoire and Staff Sergeant Jason Nickell will demonstrate to all the colorful and expressive interpretations that are possible with this wonderful music.
Gustav Holst wrote the "Second Suite for Military Band" in 1911, using English folk songs and folk dance tunes throughout. The opening "March" combines a Morris dance with folk songs, while the second movement features a lyrical tune which tells of lovers separated by their parents. This is followed by the "Song of the Blacksmith", complete with a lively rhythm played on the blacksmith's anvil. The Suite concludes with the Dargason country dance and folk song entwined with the well-known Greensleeves melody. Holst was well suited for his role as concert band composer, having played trombone in various groups for years. Whereas other composers wrote for the concert band as they would for an orchestra without strings, Holst created a unique sound intended to cast the concert band as a serious concert medium.