This, our last morning began with Joop Boerstoel introducing repertoire from Northern Europe, focusing a good deal of energy on educational music:
Süit puhkpilliorkestrile (Suite for Wind Orchestra) – Ott Kask (Estonia) – Has a playful melodic sense, very accessible
Tall Tales for Band – Jukka Viitasaari (Finland) – Fun grade 3 with plenty of activity, sophisticated sound
Roman Trilogy – Martin Ellerby (UK) – Opens mysteriously with a very rich color and harmonic palate, later has epic horn lines
Stillness – Tom Davoren (UK) – Layered sustains with a repeated clarinet figure frame a gentle melody
Summer Dances – Adam Gorb (UK) – apparently everyone has heard about it!
Hammaaloth (call for a blessing) – Arend Gerds (Netherlands) – versions for both Fanfare Band and Wind Band, a short grade 3
Uit een sprookje/From a Fairy Tale – Alexander Comitas (Netherlands) – Fun and whimsical, with a jazzy bent
Voyages of Americo Vespucci – Jan Bosveld (Netherlands) – Another grade 3
Impressions for Tuba – André Waignein (Belgium) – Martial opening clears the way for instant and interesting tuba melody
Glenn Price introduced music from North America. He had help from Erik Leung, Angela Schroeder, and Bill Thomas. They looked at:
Rocky Mountain Lullaby – Christiaan Venter (Canada) – Grade 2 work that uses open scoring. Features colorful sustained chords and evocative individual percussion and wind solos which add up to sounding like morning in the Rockies.
The Sea of Marmora – Allan Gilliland (Canada) – Turkish influence, features a few flexible solos, nice dance section
Suite on Canadian Folk Songs – Morley Calvert (Canada) – Originally for brass band, recently discovered in wind band edition by composer. Cleverly done, well orchestrated.
Lyric Essay – Donald Coakley (Canada) – Reminiscent of Persichetti Pageant. Nice long, flowing lines in easy counterpoint.
Free Running – Robert Buckley (Canada) – Driving rhythms, a fair amount of tutti playing and repeated/similar figures to great effect
Prairie Ride and Sunset – John Estacio (Canada) – Western, a bit of a Copland meets Holsinger flavor.
Astrarium – Peter van Zandt Lane (USA) – Conveys brutal energy through sustains and hammering ostinatos, moving to fluttering figures in different sections.
Symphony IV: Bookmarks from Japan – Julie Giroux (USA) – I’ve talked about this one before: it’s an amazingly evocative piece with glorious orchestration, a true jewel of the repertoire.
I ended up connecting with an old friend and colleague for a good chunk of the rest of the morning, so I only caught one piece of each of the two groups on the main morning concert. Both sounded nicely polished and very loud! Here is what they played:
Brass Band Schoonhoven under Ivan Meylemans
Sång Till Norden – Lode Violett
Underground Concerto for Euphonium, Percussion, and Brass Band – Christian Overhead, with soloist Robbert Vos (World Premiere)
Ivory Ghosts – Gavin Higgins
Schumann Resonances – Alexander Comitas (World Premiere)
Gelders Fanfare Orchestra, led by Erik van de Kolk
False Front – Stan Nieuwenhuis (World Premiere)
A Child Like You – Andy Scott
Rounded with a Sleep – Harrie Janssen (World Premiere)
Time for Outrage – Marco Pütz
Meanwhile, I was invited by some German friends to attend one of the Fringe Festival events: a warmup concert by the Symphonic Youth Wind Band of Ulm at the Zimich headquarters. This is a youth honors band from southern Germany, and they played the following:
Summer Dances – Adam Gorb
Libertadores – Oscar Navarro
This whole set was a practice for their appearance at the World Music Contest in Kerkrade tomorrow. So “Horkstow Grange” was their warmup piece. It had some truly glorious moments – keep tuning those high notes, horns! The Gorb was new to me, but as the test piece at Kerkrade, every band in Europe now knows it. The first movement was a joyous 10/8 dance. The second was relaxed, with a bit of a Latin flavor. The third sounded Irish to me, combining a fast 6/8 dance with a longer, fanfare-like line that led to an absolutely terrific ending. The Navarro, also new to me, was a single movement that sounded like joy itself coming from these players. It was a Latin tour-de-force, complete with singing, body percussion, screaming high trumpets, marching snare drums, and 10 horns (TEN HORNS!!!) on their feet at one point. I was thoroughly impressed (although I as I was leaving I overheard their director rightly say that they could do more to listen to each other), and I’m definitely rooting for their success at Kerkrade tomorrow.
At the WASBE general membership meeting that followed, Dario Sotelo from Brazil became WASBE president (the first from South America) and started the process of having us look ahead to our Tokyo conference in 2019. Congrats, president Sotelo – I’m sure I speak for many members when I say I look forward to working with you over the next 2 years.
The final concert of the conference had a sad event attached to it: the scheduled Simon Bolivar Youth Symphonic Band of Venezuela, led by Sergio Rosales, was unable to leave Venezuela due to the political crisis in that country. To maestro Rosales and his students: we all hope for the resolution of this crisis and for your freedom to make music around the world to be restored. They were scheduled to have played:
Fifty Shades of E – Johan de Meij
The Rite of Spring – Igor Stravinsky (arr. Sánchez Torrella)
The European Union Youth Wind Orchestra, led by Jan Cober, played their scheduled set and more in the absence of Simon Bolivar. This excellent young group from 14 countries around Europe (and, for some reason, Colombia) ended our conference with the following set:
Il Compimento del Inizio – Dirk Wambacq
Fantasmagorie – Alexandre Kosmicki
Harlequin – Philip Sparke, with euphonium soloist Philippe Schwartz
Sinfonietta Flamenca – Carlos Surinach
Ballets (select movements) – Miguel Asins Arbó
This group achieved a big, focused sound that was alive with instrumental color. This was on full display during the Wambacq, which used a fierce, modern language through many moods. The Kosmicki was essentially a dance suite condensed into one movement, with waltzes both fast and slow, then a moment of reflection, and finally a galop that went on longer than any real horse could ever sustain. The Sparke began dramatic and romantic before turning burlesque – Schwartz dazzled with impossible flurries of notes. The Surinach was in three movements. The first was heavy and big. The second was essentially in ABA form, with the A’s featuring unsettling and mysterious chords accompanying a masterful alto sax solo, and the B moving forward. The finale seemed to double as a scherzo. We had heard the Arbó already – it was lovely to hear its delirious waltz and energetic foxtrot again. We were treated to two encores as well. The first was a surprisingly inevitable jazz treatment of the Mozart Piano Sonata no. 16. The second was a lovely Latin number written and conducted by one of the oboe players, Samuel Aguirre Guerra from Colombia. I was especially impressed with his conducting (maestro Jan Cober appears to be an excellent model and teacher), and I hope he’ll keep at it!
With that, the official events of WASBE Utrecht came to a close. If you’ve been reading these posts, I hope they brought you closer to these events and made you feel part of the exciting exercise of global interconnectedness that is WASBE. It doesn’t have to end here: WASBE still exists between conferences. We meet and have a reception at Midwest every year, and we run a lot of other business (a journal, a magazine, a website, a composition contest, and more), but above all the people in WASBE are remarkable musicians and visionaries who all share the common goal of bringing the world together through music. So I encourage you, dear reader, to not let this blog be the extent of your contact with us. Consider joining WASBE to support bringing your band into contact with music and people from around the world. Consider coming to the next conference: Tokyo 2019. I hope your life is richer for having read all of this, but I promise you that that richness will increase by orders of magnitude if you come to Tokyo. The bands you will hear, the sights you will see, and above all, the friends and connections you will make far outclass anything I can possibly tell you in even the most detailed blog post.
I now head home to Oneonta, thinking fondly and excitedly of all I’ve seen and done this week. Travel safe, friends. See you in Tokyo. Pease out!