Brian Balmages (b. 1975) is a young, prolific American composer with several new works making their way into the standard wind band repertoire.  He has this to say about Summer Dances:

Summer Dances was written for the Columbia Concert Band, Columbia, Maryland, for an outdoor summer concert. The piece was written to capture the beauty and spirit of the many festivals and events associated with the season.  In writing the piece, elements were included to make it very appropriate to perform in or out of the concert hall.

The piece thrives on rhythmic pulse throughout.  The fast rhythmic figures of the opening are contrasted with the more stately motives presented later in the piece in the slower, more lyrical section.

Performers should approach this piece using light articulations, in order to achieve a festive mood.

It’s nothing but a happy coincidence that this piece was written for another “Columbia” group so similar to ours.  Our performances of Summer Dances are dedicated to the memory of Debra Silver.  She was a devoted advocate for the Columbia Summer Winds.  She was also an avid dancer.  This piece perfectly captures two of her great loves and her lightness of spirit.

Brian Balmages’s website, including bio and extensive works list with many recordings.

Brian Balmages profile at James Madison University, his alma mater (class of 1998).

A moving Baltimore Sun piece on a middle school concert in which Balmages was comissioned to write a piece in memory of slain band members.

The best resource on Summer Dances is the quote above.  For some more amusing reactions to the piece, check out the comments in any of the several YouTube clips of the piece.  It seems as though every middle school (!!) and high school in Texas has played this piece, and all the kids want to talk about it.

I’ve picked the best recording to embed here on the resource site: A professional-level band plays a flawless performance of Summer Dances.