Today’s opening activity was a repertoire session split into two sections: one focused on central European band music, and other focused on that of South America. Miguel Etchegoncelay led the European session, in which he highlighted the following works.
ConCerto con Fuoco – Emmanuel Sejourné (arr. Savogat) (France) – We heard a different piece for marimba and strings, which sounded like Rachmaninoff had learned the marimba
Flux Fluctuant et Fluide – Gualtiero Dazzi (France/Italy) – Drones and microtones made it sound like a didgeridoo
Concerto Grosso – Gerardo di Giusto (France/Argentina) – For reed quintet and band, had a Latin flavor
Sinfonia Antiqua – Thorsten Wollman (Germany) – A hint of Beethoven with some modern pop thrown in
Legendes Rhenanes – Frederic Unterfinger (France) – A lot like a slightly different flavor of Rosano Gallante’s music.
Pour de temps de Paix – Jordan Gudelfin (France) – A chamber piece that opened peacefully
Un jour, les pierres – Alexandre Ouzounoff (France) (no recording)
Burning Bright – Karol Beffa (France) – Latin, dissonant, and minimalist
Concerto Humoristique – Walter Civitareale (Luxembourg) (no recording)
Eris – Daniel Muck (Austria) – reflective, many effects, fairly sparse
Dario Sotelo from Brazil introduced the South American repertoire, which came from four countries:
Sinfonia para Sopros e Percussão – Edmundo Villani-Côrtes (Brazil) – A three movement work that at least starts off with angular fanfare figures and intense rhythms.
Senzala, Maracatus e Quilombos – Hudson Nogueira (Brazil) – Dark and jazzy, with an important and evocative harp part
Concertino para Flauta e Banda – Edson Beltrami (Brazil) – Dark (again) and reflective with a Romantic tinge
Abertura Dramática – Alexandre Travassos (Brazil) – Dark, intense scherzo
200 Tercera Suite para Banda – Victoriano Valencia Rincón (Colombia) – Opens strongly, including an actual scream! It’s about the different territories in Colombia and their various histories.
Sinfonia para Timbales y Banda – Pedro Sarmiento (Colombia) (no recording)
Triptico para Flauta y Vientos – Ruben Dario Gómez Prada (Colombia) – Rhythmic and percussive
…de Tango – Vicente Moncho (Argentina) – Microtonal
Lost Forest – Luis Nani (Argentina) – A little romantic, a little more minimalist
Concierto para Banda – Pablo Dell’Oca Sala (Uruguay/Argentina) (no recording)
This afternoon, I presented my talk, “Repertoire Resources for the 21st Century Global Wind Band Conductor,” to an appreciative audience in a very hot little room. You can see every resource I talked about on the Other Resources page of this site.
The Saratoga High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble, conducted by Michael Boltz and Jason Shiuan, kicked off the afternoon with the following:
Welcome to the Imagination World – Daisuke Shimizu
Clarinet Concerto no. 2 – Oscar Navarro, with soloist Leo Kim
California – David Maslanka
there are no words – James Stephenson
This young band played every phrase with fantastic positive energy. Their set emerged from what appeared to be their tuning note, but which was actually the beginning of the Shimizu, which otherwise was pretty standard film-score-like fare. The clarinet concerto started gently before building into a busy, Latin 3/4. Bravo to soloist Leo Kim! The Maslanka was mostly meditative, emphasizing long lines with a few big outbursts. The Stephenson was easily the most affecting and best-played piece on the program – bravo especially to the euphonium soloist. I heard the piece before at Midwest, but hearing it again made me reflect on it more. As soon as you know its program (it is about the 9 shooting victims at the Charleston, SC church in 2015), it changes your perception of the piece completely. Stephenson, in an attempt to memorialize these truly innocent victims, essentially “shoots” each one again via chime hits on each of their “names” in his final section. While it is intended as a memorial, is it too much like the act of violence that brought this piece into being? I am not done wrestling with this question.
The afternoon continued with the Orchestra Fiati di Valle Camonica, led by Denis Salvini:
Piccoli Eroi – Giuseppe Manente (arr. Farina)
Kindara Overture – Antonio Giacometti (World Premiere)
Trois Notes Du Japon – Toshio Mashima
UFO Concerto – Johan de Meij, with euphonium soloist Devid Ceste
This band had world class dynamic control and clarity, which was on full display in the Manente. The Giacometti was unusual, as the program notes suggested, basically alternating between dramatic, unpredictable material and various steady grooves. It did not cohere enough for my taste, but I found it to be a bold and forward-thinking programming choice. The Mashima, with guest conductor Douglas Bostock, was the highlight of this concert for me. All three movements were sparkling with color and painted a clear picture of Japan. Bostock was absolutely inspiring, especially for a fellow tall person like myself – he conducted the whole thing with no score and leaned into every musical moment with complete gusto and abandon. And that’s no slight to maestro Salvini, who brought total focus and energy to every piece. They finished with the UFO Concerto, in which Ceste dazzled. Bravi, tutti!
The evening concert featured the huge and stunning Symphonic Wind Orchestra St. Michael of Thorn under Ivan Meylemans. Being from the Netherlands, they packed the house with the following program:
Dance Suite – Marc van Delft (World Premiere)
Two Bone Concerto – Johan de Meij, featuring trombone soloists Jörgen van Rijen and Alexander Verbeek
Dionysiaques – Florent Schmitt
Capriccio Espagnol – Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (arr. Courtain)
The van Delft was in three movements and based on South American music. It began with an intense rhythmic interplay in 6/8 based on the music of Alberto Ginastera. I could not identify the dance of the second movement contained an undercurrent of pulsing menace underneath dark melodies, which switched to a woodwind chorale by the end. The third was a brash and purposely off-balance scherzo which is interrupted by a direct evocation of bagpipe music before reviewing the material from each movement. The de Meij, was a stunner, with both soloists at their absolute best. It began minimally, evolving into a regal main theme. Things changed when a steel drum (!!) appeared, with some other percussive accompaniment, allowing the soloists to have a little bell-to-bell fun. This didn’t last – they retreated to opposite corners of the stage and ignored each other until Verbeek intoned what I can only describe as a plea for forgiveness. This brought them back together towards an epic finish. Bravo to everyone involved with this piece! After a break, they came back with the Schmitt, complete with alto horns. To me, this piece has always been theoretical: I’ve seen it analyzed, read about it, seen a very old set of parts, and even heard an impossible recording of it. This was my first live encounter with it, and I can confirm that it sounds exactly like a giant party where each section got a little tipsy and was then asked to write the part for one other section and took out years of grievances in doing so. And then they all played their parts together on a dare, and it sounded somehow amazing. They finished with the Rimsky, then an encore with the bone soloists, then another one with de Falla Ritual Fire Dance. Bravo, band, soloists, and the incredible maestro Meylemans!