This weekend (coinciding nicely with March Forth) was the New York State Band Director’s Association‘s 2017 Symposium.  This annual event brings together band directors from all over New York State for a weekend of clinics, concerts (including honor bands for high school, middle school and jazz), and camaraderie.  (Full disclosure: I was elected to this group’s board as 3rd Vice President this weekend.)

I arrived Saturday morning, in time to catch the Oyster Bay High School Wind Ensemble performing for their director Matt Sisia’s clinic: Repertoire is the Curriculum.  They played the following:

Handel in the Strand – Percy Grainger, arr. E. F. Goldman

Diamond Tide – Viet Cuong

William Byrd Suite – Gordon Jacob

Introduction, Theme, and Variations – Gioachino Rossini

The Cuong featured extended percussion techniques for a colorful soundscape that started mysteriously and ended with a big ensemble shout.  The Rossini featured a magnificent soloist: Oyster Bay HS chemistry teacher Benjamin Fox.  Sisia supported his ideas about finding the perfect, most educational and appropriate repertoire with a full list of works performed by all of the bands at Oyster Bay for the last 14 years.

In the afternoon, I heard the Middle School Honor Band, under the direction of Dr. Shelley Jagow.  Everything about this concert was wonderful and inspiring, from Dr. Jagow’s audience manner to the incredibly mature sounds coming out of this ensemble to the repertoire they played:

Into the Clouds – Richard Saucedo

El Camino Real – Alfred Reed, arr. Longfield

Rippling Watercolors – Brian Balmages

Cafe 512 – Ryan George

The Saucedo depicted a serene and thrilling flying scene.  The Reed is a Latin-flavored classic, expertly arranged for young band by Robert Longfield.  The Balmages is a lovely, simple, and well-shaped piece that demands mature musicianship, which these 12- and 13-year-olds delivered.  The George is a clever and colorful history of tango that the kids clearly enjoyed.  Another highlight of the program was what Jagow called the “97% Demonstration.”  See this video by Jack Stamp for some idea, but note that the middle school version featured a whole lot more giggling.

Curt Ebersole (who also gave an afternoon presentation) led the Westchester Symphonic Winds in the evening concert.  This excellent community band played the following:

Resplendent Glory – Rossano Galante

Sòlas Ané (Yesterday’s Joy) – Samuel R. Hazo

Friedmann Fanfare – Scott Boerma

On This Bright Morning – David Maslanka

Play! – Carl Holmquist

Aspen Jubilee – Ron Nelson

National Emblem – E. E. Bagley

The Galante is true to his usual style, which you can hear at the link above.  The Hazo was an interesting blend of Irish-like melodies and contemporary band sounds, including a heavy Irish percussion complement.  The Boerma was a contemporary fanfare with something a circus element to it.  Like others of his recent pieces, this Maslanka was primarily built of long melodies over a long series of long arpeggios.  It started with very bright timbres and tended more towards darkness as it moved towards its stuttering conclusion.  Play! was a highlight of the program, featuring a simple, swingy ostinato as its main musical idea which veered in many playful directions.  The Nelson (this is the one with the soprano) featured his usual colorful and detailed orchestration, with great unforced energy at the end.  The Bagley is a classic of the march repertoire that this band played with impeccable precision and musicianship.

Other highlights of the day included a technology demonstration by Corey Riley and a talk about tone production by legendary bandmaster Ray Kramer.  I also managed to catch several bits of rehearsal of the High School Honor Band, led by Dr. Evan Feldman.  I did not catch their concert, but the bits of their repertoire that I heard in rehearsal were spectacular:

Kirkpatrick Fanfare – Andrew Boysen, Jr.

Irish Tune from County Derry – Percy Aldridge Grainger

Blue Shades – Frank Ticheli

Melodious Thunk – David Biedenbender

Downey Overture – Oscar Navarro

Of these, I was unfamiliar with the Boysen and the Navarro.  I unfortunately did not catch the Boysen, but the Navarro was quite interesting and will get a further look here in the future.

Congrats to NYSBDA for a very well-run, positive symposium!  I’m very glad to be getting involved.