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.  He has received many awards, including the 2006 NBA/William D. Revelli Memorial Band Composition Contest for his Symphony No. 2.

As usual, Ticheli provides his own program note for 2011’s San Antonio Dances that neatly sums up its meaning for him and its musical inspiration:

San Antonio Dances was composed as a tribute to a special city, whose captivating blend of Texan and Hispanic cultural influences enriched my life during my three years as a young music professor at Trinity University.  It has been 20 years since I lived in San Antonio, but the city still tugs at my heartstrings and lives in this music.

The first movement depicts the seductively serene Alamo Gardens and its beautiful live oak trees that provide welcome shade from the hot Texas sun.  A tango mood and lazily winding lines give way to a brief but powerful climax depicting the Alamo itself.

The second movement’s lighthearted and joyous music celebrates San Antonio’s famous Riverwalk.  Inspired by the streets and canals of Venice, Italy, architect Robert Hugman proposed his idea of converting the San Antonio riverfront into a beautiful urban park back in the 1920s.  It took decades to complete, but the Riverwalk eventually became a reality–a 2 1/2 mile stretch of stunningly landscaped waterfront lined with hotels, restaurants, night clubs and shops.

Picture a group of friends seated at an outdoor patio of one of the Riverwalk’s many Tex-Mex restaurants, enjoying the scenery, the food, the company.  In time, the evening settles in, the air cools, the mood brightens, the crowd picks up, and music is heard from every direction.  Before you know it, the whole place is one giant fiesta that could go on forever.

Viva San Antonio!

Ticheli’s publisher hosts a complete, downloadable set of mp3s of the vast majority of his large ensemble music on their website – 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.

A Texas honor band plays San Antonio Dances:

Now take a look at some pictures: here are the Alamo Gardens, then the Riverwalk.