Slovenian Performance of Downtown Dash

While tooling around on YouTube, I discovered this video of a Slovenian concert band (Prekmurska Godba Bakovci, conducted by Željko Ritlop) playing my Grade 2.5 band piece Downtown Dash. The piece was featured in the most recent volume (8) of Teaching Music Through Performance in Band.

Downtown Dash is published by C. Alan Publications and available from music stores worldwide.

Imagining World: Remembrance vs. Celebration

A carefree wave of relief and relaxation has at last washed over me after completing my latest commission, Imagining World, a Grade IV wind ensemble work for Oswego High School in Illinois. This one created an interesting challenge in that it was meant to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the OHS band program while simultaneously memorializing a former student who had passed away. I stumbled upon a short poem that poignantly reconciled these two seemingly contrasting ideas.

Imagining World by Brian Andreas
In my dream, the angel shrugged & said,
if we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination
& then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand.

I love the idea of our loved ones returning as angels to watch over us in our dreams and encouraging imagination as we look toward the future. Having lost my mother a couple of years ago, I like to think that she is keeping tabs on me. In order to grow, looking to & planning for the future is a pivotal part of looking back & celebrating the past. 

Much of the thematic material for the piece is derived from the final melodic phrase of the OHS school song (also the Notre Dame Victory March). The work opens with the sparkling (& dreamy) qualities of wind chimes and metallic keyboard percussion presenting fragments of this melodic material, the "Oswego" theme, which appears throughout the piece in several forms. A trumpet and horn fanfare follows leading to a full ensemble climax before moving into the main body of the piece. Directly following the climax is the first statement of the "Dream" theme played by solo flute. It undergoes several transformations & moods and intermingles with the "Oswego" theme as the piece progresses. Imagining World strikes a delicate balance between reflection and celebration – a challenge that we must all embrace.

Listen to a recording here...

Imagining World (MIDI realization)

Imagining World will receive its premiere on May 20, 2010 by the Oswego High School Wind Ensemble, Stephanie Silosky conducting, with the composer in attendance.

About Beth Sharp...
Elizabeth May Sharp, the oldest of five children who all participated in the Oswego band program, was a piano player first, a clarinet player second, having started in fifth grade band under the direction of Margene Pappas, and a doctor finally.  Her vocation was that of medicine and her avocation that of music.  Beth went through the band program in Oswego IL and while in high school band, under the direction of James Felts, she attended IMEA All-State her junior and senior year on Eb Contra Alto Clarinet.  She studied privately with Margene Pappas until she graduated from high school.  She also had the opportunity to travel abroad after her senior year in high school performing in band.  She attended the University of Illinois and played bass clarinet in the top Symphonic Band under the direction of Harry Begian from her freshman to her senior year in college. 

When Beth went to Texas to study medicine she continued to play in community bands and orchestras as she loved MUSIC.  Beth's life was cut short when she contracted a disease that led to her death.  Her friends and family, shocked by her courage to fight the disease alone until the last few months of her life (Beth was a fighter!), established a scholarship in her name to be given to the most outstanding boy and girl musician from the Oswego High School Band.  The award recipients were chosen by the band director and were expected to be outstanding musicians, keep their academic standards high, and have the motivation to continue their musical participation in college and beyond either as a music major or by participating in college and community ensembles.  The scholarship was a $500 award and given each year until 2006, the year in which Margene Pappas retired from the band program in Oswego.  The remaining money, having lost ground from the original investment due to a faltering economy was intended to be used to foster commissions for band for the Oswego High School band program.

Limerick Daydreams Featured in a Book + a New Recording from Maestro Ray Cramer

While sitting in the audience during a performance of Limerick Daydreams by the UNC-Greensboro Percussion Ensemble, I started to imagine how it might sound to score the piece for wind ensemble. Just a few days later it was all orchestrated and ready for a band to try it out. Dennis Fisher, conductor of the University of North Texas Symphonic Band, agreed to perform the premiere of the new version and had some wonderful tips for me along the way. Since then, the piece has been performed by the UNT Wind Symphony and the Lone Star Wind Orchestra (both under the baton of Eugene Corporon), the NY & NJ All State Bands and the Indiana University Wind Ensemble (all conducted by Ray Cramer) and many other bands around the world.

A little over a year ago, Dennis Fisher told me that "Limerick" would be featured in the 7th Volume of Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. According to the GIA Publications website, "this book includes extensive analyses of a broad range of the best wind band literature being published today. Each Teacher Resource Guide includes a description of the composer, historical perspectives, technical considerations, stylistic considerations, a breakdown of music elements, a form and structure analysis, and more." Dennis did a wonderful job writing the article for the piece.

Unrelated to the book is the new recording I received late in the summer from Maestro Ray Cramer, Conductor Emeritus of the Indiana University Wind Ensemble, of a live performance he had conducted with the Mushashino Academy Wind Symphony in Tokyo, Japan. He tells me that a studio recording is forthcoming, but until then take a listen to this magical performance.

Limerick Daydreams (for wind ensemble)

Musashino Academy Wind Symphony
Maestro Ray Cramer, conductor

Limerick Daydreams is available from C. Alan Publications or any of your favorite music dealers.  :)