Metropolitan Wind Symphony Band Concert: Dances
May 4, 2014
The Metropolitan Wind Symphony will continue their 43rd season with their Spring Concert, Dances, on Sunday, May 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm, at Cary Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, MA. MWS Music director Lewis J. Buckley will conduct the program. Featured on this program which celebrates the world of dance will be Rolling Thunder by Henry Fillmore, Postcard by Frank Ticheli, and Carmina Burana by Carl Orff/arr. John Krance. Talented student musicians will join the MWS musicians for these selections: Dances of Innocence by Jan Van der Roost, Turkey in the Straw arranged by Lewis Buckley, Solitary Dancer by Warren Benson, and English Folk Song Suite by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Mr. Buckley will deliver a pre-concert lecture at 2:30 pm.
Tickets are $18 for adults, $14 for seniors, $6 for students, and are free for children under 5. They are available at the door or can be reserved by telephone. Call the MWS Concert Line at (617) 983-1370 to reserve or purchase tickets. Visit the MWS web page at http://www.mws-boston.org for information and directions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
We will again open with a march, but this time it’s not Sousa; it’s the famous Henry Fillmore’s circus march, Rolling Thunder. Fillmore, a trombonist himself, wrote a number of trombone features including, most famously, Lassus Trombone. Not surprisingly, this march also features the trombones.
We next proceed to the music of one of our favorite composers, Frank Ticheli, in this case his compact and difficult Postcard. Famed wind conductor H. Robert Reynolds commissioned Ticheli to write Postcard in honor of his mother, following her passing. The title is based on the fact that Reynolds always sent postcards to his mom from wherever in the world his many guest-conducting engagements took him.
Reynolds asked not for “…an elegy commemorating her death but a short, energetic piece celebrating her life.” Ticheli certainly delivered; this piece is bursting with energy. He also used a highly unusual compositional technique; the opening 42-note theme is a palindrome. A theme consisting of the same pitches both frontward and backward, it is based on the Reynolds family tradition of giving their children palindromes as first names, including “Harrah”, Reynolds’ own first name.
We close the first half of our program with a wind band transcription of Carl Orff’s massive Carmina Burana. As major choral texts go, these Latin texts are fascinating in that, although found in a monastery, they are highly secular poems dating back to the traveling troubadors of the 11th to the 13th centuries. This is powerful music that translates beautifully from chorus to wind band. Widely used as background music in television and motion pictures, the opening and arguably the most famous theme, O Fortuna, is one of those rare, instantly familiar motifs that have become part of our culture.
Both private and public school students of the many music teachers in MWS will join us for the second half of the concert. Middle school students will join us first in Jan Van der Roost’s Dances of Innocence. Although this piece, like Postcard, is a commemoration of someone deceased, in this case a 14-year-old girl, Dances, like Postcard, celebrates the beauty, cheerfulness, and innocence of the young girl it commemorates rather than the sadness of her death.
Next we will take music director Lew Buckley’s arrangement of Turkey in the Straw. This light-hearted set of variations on the famous fiddle tune features as soloists the clarinet, flute, and the [in this case] comical sounds of the rumbling contrabass clarinet.
The high school students will next join us on stage for prolific composer Warren Benson’s Solitary Dancer. This piece is imbued with excitement, but in a fascinating twist, it is subdued excitement struggling to break free. The expression of these tightly wound emotions takes place through subdued dynamics, the use of hand clapping, singing using the syllable din, and unusual percussion combinations.
We will close the concert with one of the concert band masterworks of the early twentieth century, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ famed English Folk Song Suite. In an era when most band music was transcribed from orchestral compositions, an original wind work by a composer of Vaughan Williams’ stature immediately became a staple in the relatively small wind repertoire. The two outside movements are cheerful and light, and the middle movement is hauntingly beautiful.