Educated at the University of Michigan, composer Frank Ticheli (b. 1958) has become one of the biggest names in new wind band repertoire.  Since 1991 he has been a Professor of Composition USC-Thornton and, until 1998, Composer in Residence of the Pacific Symphony.  The recipient of many awards, he was most recently winner of the 2006 NBA/William D. Revelli Memorial Band Composition Contest for his Symphony No. 2.

Ticheli provides his own program note for Nitro:

Nitro, an energy-charged three-minute fanfare for band, was commissioned by the Northshore Concert Band, Mallory Thompson, music director, in celebration of their 50th anniversary season, and received its premiere performance by them on April 9th, 2006.

Nitrogen is the most abundant component of the Earth’s atmosphere (78 per cent by volume), and is present in the tissues of every living thing. It is the fifth most abundant element in the universe, created by the fusion deep within stars; it has recently been detected in interstellar space. The sheer prevalence of nitrogen in all of nature, and the infinite range of compounds it is part of — life-giving, energizing, healing, cleansing, explosive — all appealed to me, and served as the inspiration for my music.

The main musical idea for Nitro is a powerful, angular theme, first announced by the trombones and horns, and then imitated in the trumpets. Trumpet fanfare calls and a busy and relentless chattering in the woodwinds enhance the bright, festive mood.

The middle section is based on a woodwind theme that is partly fanfare-like, partly dance-like. This contrasting theme is built from intervals occurring in the natural overtone series (octave and twelfth), giving it an expansive, open-air quality. The main theme reappears, growing in power and density all the while, building to a thunderous conclusion.

Frank Ticheli

More info on Nitro can be found here, at Ticheli’s publisher’s website.  This site is also home to a complete, downloadable set of mp3s of the vast majority of his large ensemble music – quite a find!

Frank Ticheli’s personal website, Frankticheli.com.

Ticheli bio on wikipedia.

Frank Ticheli’s Facebook fanclub.

A video interview with Ticheli in which he talks about composing.

Now here’s Texas All State band: