Mark Camphouse (b. 1954) is an American composer and conductor. He has written more than a dozen emotional works for wind band. He also directs the bands at George Mason University. He is the creator and editor of the series Composers on Composing for Band, published by GIA publications. He coordinates the National Band Association’s Young Composer Mentor Project which matches emerging composers with experienced professionals.
Camphouse wrote Yosemite Autumn in 2004 on a commission from Jason Noble and the Miami Coral Park High School Wind Orchestra in Miami, Florida. He provides a detailed program note on the piece:
I put forth considerable effort in trying to separate my seemingly non-stop professional activities from increasingly all-too-infrequent family activities. The first ten days of a two week family vacation in 2003 to the Northern California region was shaping up just that way: San Francisco was fascinating and entertaining, Big Sur was spectacular, and the Wine Country, Redwood and Lassen National Parks, and Lake Tahoe were all truly magnificent! Everything was going as planned. Musical projects and work-related responsibilities were some 2,700 miles back east. I was on vacation, enjoying some “quality time” with my family in the truly gorgeous and exciting Northern California region for the very first time.
Then we reached Yosemite.
How could any human not be profoundly moved by such stunning beauty? How could any American not take immense pride in our nation being so richly blessed with such an abundance of natural beauty? But, at the same time, we Americans share a genuine concern over the dangers of shortsighted and ill-advised environmental policies of government as well as private sector greed with related encroachment and pollution issues.
And finally, how could any composer not be inspired and hopelessly tempted to “get the creative juices flowing” in trying to capture the rich history and majestic landscape that is Yosemite? The remaining portion of this family vacation was doomed. I was there physically with my family – hiking, horseback riding, and doing the things tourists do. But the creative part of me was definitely somewhere else – absorbed in thinking about ways I might try to go about capturing musically the awe-inspiring sights and sounds of Yosemite: Glacier Point, Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls, just to name a few.
The great American naturalist, conservationist, and writer John Muir certainly said it best:
No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite.
Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life.
Yosemite Autumn is dedicated to the memory of my mother-in-law, Daphna Lodean Wilson (1930-2003), whose spirit will always seem “to glow with life”.
What’s Camphouse raving about? Check out some Yosemite autumn pictures.
Interview with Camphouse in the George Mason University Gazette.
Program note on Yosemite Autumn on a travel site, of all places.
And here’s a marvelous YouTube performance of the piece: