The idea for the Symphony for Band came out of discussions between Dr. Green and Mark Scatterday, the conductor of the famed Eastman Wind Ensemble. It was to use a re-worked version of the Overture in E-flat as its first movement, adding three movements of new music. The result is a 30-minute composition unified, first and foremost, by melodic material. In various ways–both overt and subtle–the first theme of the Overture forms the basis of the main melody in each subsequent movement. You can listen to MIDI recordings of each movement below. Of course, these are computer representations of a very human piece of music. Tempos, styles, and timbres are thus approximate and not 100% accurate. But these recordings will at least give you a sense of the piece.
The first movement begins confidently (in E-flat), and mostly stays that way:
Tragedy suddenly appears in the second movement. It begins with a jarringly sparse and dissonant chord, travels through much Sturm und Drang, and ends as disquietingly as it began:
The third movement is an extended, and at times virtuoso, scherzo. Says Dr. Green: “It encompasses tempi that are exhileratingly fast, and also tempi that are very thoughtful and moderato.”:
A burst of percussion heralds the fourth movement, which unfolds in sonata form. Dr. Green adds: “Returning us to the opening key of E-flat, it is predominantly bold and confident in mood–but its second theme is deeply lyrical. It has an extended and very exciting coda.”:
Dr. Green speaks concisely of his guiding philosophy of composition:
Hearing this symphony, with its wide range of moods and its tight thematic structure, you’ll not be surprised that my work as a composer is inspired by this central idea of Aesthetic Realism, stated by its founder, the great poet and critic Eli Siegel: “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.”
In case you’ve made it this far, you can also hear the full symphony played live at its world premiere by the Columbia University Wind Ensemble:
This Symphony was commissioned by a consortium of thirteen bands, headed by Mark Scatterday of the Eastman Wind Ensemble and Andy Pease (that’s me) of the Columbia University Wind Ensemble. Below is a list of the bands and their directors. I’ll also include the premiere dates and cities as I find them out.
Eastman Wind Ensemble – Mark Scatterday
Columbia Wind Ensemble – Andrew Pease – Sunday, December 9, 2pm, New York City
Wake Forest University – C. Kevin Bowen
South Dakota State University – Eric Peterson
Manhattan Wind Ensemble – Christopher Baum – Tuesday, December 4, 8pm, New York City
Dartmouth College – Matthew Marsit – Tuesday, October 23, 7pm, Hanover, NH
Brooklyn Wind Symphony – Jeff W. Ball – Sunday, December 16, 2pm, Brooklyn, NY
Mansfield University – Adam Brennan
Furman University – Leslie Hicken
Kansas State University – Frank Tracz
University of Arizona – Gregg Hanson
Yale University – Thomas Duffy
Auburn University – Rick Good
Dr. Green has an extensive website that includes his full biography. I recommend exploring the site a good deal. His scholarly articles are probing and very accessible. The site also has mp3s of several of his compositions for orchestra and chamber groups. These are very much worth a listen as window into his style.
Dr. Green’s faculty page at the Manhattan School of Music.
His faculty page at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation.