Yasuhide Ito (b. 1960) is one of Japan’s premier composers of original music for wind band. He is best known for his 1990 suite for wind band Gloriosa, which is performed frequently all over the world. He has written several dozen other pieces for band and other media, including symphonies for band and at least one full opera, going back to his first band work, On the March, of 1978, written when he was in his third year of high school. Ito is also a renowned pianist, conductor, lecturer, and translator.
Below are the program notes from the score of Ito’s 2012 Jalan-jalan di Singapura. Note that I had to edit the rehearsal letters mentioned in the notes, since they seemed to point to the wrong places:
Singapore is a vibrant city. Though modern buildings line its streets, cultures of Chinese, Indians, and Malays can still be found everywhere.
The cheerful march has been composed to capture this crosslink of cultures in Singapore. The title Jalan-jalan di Singapura is in Malay and translates literally to “A Walk in Singapore”. Singapura-ku, a melody from Singapore, can be heard at the end of the march at rehearsal letter [J]. A motif from Movement 2 of Sinfonia Singaporia (Singapore Symphony, composed [by Ito] in 2005) can also be heard from rehearsal letters [F] to [H]. With this short march, the composer aims to capture a variety of musical characteristics that are clearly unique and symbolic of Singapore.
This work is commissioned by and dedicated to the Band Directors’ Association, Singapore. (BDAS) The premiere was performed on the 25th of July 2012 under the baton of the composer with the NYWO (Singapore Youth Wind Orchestra) during the Opening Ceremony gala of the concert of the 17th Conference of the Asia Pacific Band Directors’ Association held in Singapore at the SIA Theatre of Lasalle College of Arts.
Interestingly, Jalan-jalan di Singapura has no snare drum part, yet Ito indicates that “percussion can be substituted by players’ own idea”, leaving the door open to that and much more.
Here is the march itself, recorded by the NYWO in rehearsal:
Ito very clearly quotes his own Sinfonia Singapuriana in the middle of the march. Below is the second movement:
Singapura-ku is a national folk song that is popular enough to have been performed in this spectacular context:
It is worth it to read up on the history of Singapore, a small and prosperous island city-state on the crossroads between Malaysia and Indonesia, to understand the cultural influences that led to the creation of this march.