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USF Wind Ensemble: Piece of Mind and other Altered States

Event Type: Music
Facility: School of Music (MUS)
Presented By: School of Music
This concert will feature Dana Wilson's composition, Piece of Mind, which is a sublime depiction of mind activities. Also included on the program will be Popcopy by Scott McAlister. Popcopy is a three movement work that integrates popular themes into a cleverly crafted composition. The last movement is entitled: "More Cowbell!"
Date: 9/29/2011
Event Information: For additional event information, please visit: PROGRAM NOTES USF Wind Ensemble September 29, 2011 Marching Song of Democracy Percy A. Grainger Grainger wrote A Marching Song of Democracy after attending the Paris Exhibition in 1900. He first wrote the work for voices and whistlers only, to be performed by a chorus of me, women, and children whistling and singing to the rhythmic tramping of their feet as they marched along. Grainger realized later that he needed the contrast available with an instrumental ensemble and began scoring the piece for band in 1948. Form the program notes in the beginning of the score "...a sprawling tone poem which encapsulates the post- romantic expressive qualities of Wagner, Richard Strauss, Mahler, and Bruckner. But the music is infused with Grainger's own original composition techniques and humanistic spirit." This is a one movement, Grade IV piece with a very thick texture. Grainger also uses nearly every possible band instrument including piccolo, Eb Clarinet, Alto Clarinet, Contrabassoon, Soprano Saxophone, Bass Saxophone and Cornet. He also uses a very extensive percussion section. The work starts out building with the Theme and goes into a legato lyrical section with thinner instrumentation. It ends with the entire ensemble sounding like a bell tower and crescendoing to the final note. Piece of Mind Dana Wilson Piece of Mind is a musical pun on an old expression. It is composer Dana Wilson's representation of the workings of the human mind. The first movement, "Thinking", begins with a very simple four note idea which grows seemingly of its own inertia - as thinking about something often does - while sometimes being joined or overwhelmed by other, related ideas. "Remembering", the second movement, is structured in a manner similar to the way memory serves most of us - not as complete, logical thought, but as abrupt flashes of images or dialogue. In this case, the flashes provide a view of the original four-note idea through various musical styles vividly entrenched in the composer's own memory and hopefully, that of much of the audience. The third movement, "Feeling", explores various states throughout the emotional spectrum, and the final movement, "Being", addresses a mental state that is rarely considered in our culture. Non-Western - particularly East Indian - musical styles are called upon to shape the four-note idea so as to conjure up and celebrate this marvelous attribute (this peice, this peace...) of mind. Piece of Mind was premiered in New York City by the Ithaca College Wind Ensemble under the direction of Rodney Winther. Hymn to a Blue Hour John Mackey The blue hour is an oft-poeticized moment of the day - a lingering twilight that halos the sky after sundown but before complete darkness sets in. It is a time of day known for its romantic, spiritual, and ethereal connotations, and this magical moment has frequently inspired artists to attempt to capture its remarkable essence. This is the same essence that inhabits the sonic world of John Mackey's Hymn to a Blue Hour. Programmatic content aside, the title itself contains two strongly suggestive implications - first, the notion of hymnody, which implies a transcendent and perhaps even sacred tone; and second, the color blue, which has an inexorable tie to American music. Certainly Hymn to a Blue Hour is not directly influenced by the blues, per se, but there is frequently throughout the piece a sense of nostalgic remorse and longing - an overwhelming sadness that is the same as the typically morose jazz form. Blue also has a strong affiliation with nobility, authority, and calmness. All of these notions are woven into the fabric of the piece - perhaps a result of Mackey using what was, for him, an unconventional compositional method: "I almost never write music 'at the piano' because I don't have any piano technique. I can find chords, but I play piano like a bad typist types: badly. If I write the music using an instrument where I can barely get by, the result will be very different than if I sit at the computer and just throw a zillion notes at my sample library, all of which will be executed perfectly and at any dynamic level I ask. We spent the summer at an apartment in New York that had a nice upright piano. I don't have a piano at home in Austin - only a digital keyboard - and it was very different to sit and write at a real piano with real pedals and a real action, and to do so in the middle of one of the most exciting and energetic (and loud) cities in America. The result - partially thanks to my lack of piano technique, and partially, I suspect, from a subconscious need to balance the noise and relentless energy of the city surrounding me at the time - is much simpler and lyrical music than I typically write." Though not composed as a companion work to his earlier Aurora Awakes, Hymn to a Blue Hour strikes at many of the same chords, only in a sort of programmatic inversion. While Aurora Awakes deals with the emergence of light from darkness, Hymn to a Blue Hour is thematically linked to the moments just after sundown - perhaps even representing the same moment a half a world away. The opening slow section of Aurora Awakes does share some similar harmonic content, and the yearning within the melodic brushstrokes seem to be cast in the same light. The piece is composed largely from three recurring motives - first, a cascade of falling thirds; second, a stepwise descent that provides a musical sigh; and third, the descent's reverse: an ascent that imbues hopeful optimism. From the basic framework of these motives stated at the outset of the work, a beautiful duet emerges between horn and euphonium - creating a texture spun together into a pillowy blanket of sound, reminiscent of similar constructions elicited by great American melodists of the 20th century, such as Samuel Barber. This melody superimposes a sensation of joy over the otherwise "blue" emotive context - a melodic line that over a long period of time spins the work to a point of catharsis. In this climactic moment, the colors are at their brightest, enveloping their surroundings with an angelic glow. Alas, as is the case with the magical blue hour, the moment cannot last for long, and just as steadily as they arrived, the colors dissipate into the encroaching darkness, eventually succumbing at the work's conclusion with a sense of peaceful repose. Program note by Jake Wallace Per la Flor del Lliri Blau Joaquin Rodrigo The composer comments ,''The title of the work is not in Castilian, but in the language of the province where I was born. It means "For the flower of the blue lily". The music is based on a Valencian legend, and takes the form of a symphonic poem. The end of the text is also in Valenciano and must not be translated; it reflects the mourning of all nature for the death of the young prince." The written poem, which is included in the score, tells of the legend of three sons of a king, who are promised great wealth if they can find and bring back the flower of the blue lily, with which to cure the king of a sickness. The young prince who finds the flower after much searching returns triumphant, only to be slain by his jealous brothers. Nature itself weeps at the deed: "Passa, passa, bon germa; passa, passa i no em nomenes; que m'han mort en riu d'Arenes per Ia flor del 1/iri blau." Rodrigo's music is chivalric and lyrical by turns, reflecting the composer's interest in and enthusiasm for the music and literature of Spain's past, which he would later develop to remarkable effect in works such as Cuatro madrigales amatorios, and Concierto madrigal. The idiom of "Per Ia flor del lliri blau" falls recognizably within the European late-Romantic tradition, although the voice is unmistakably Rodrigo's own, especially in the eloquent melody heard at various times throughout, and the spirited march-like central section, based on a popular song, "Eis tres tambors". The work was dedicated to the conductor Jesus Arambarri, one of Rodrigo's classmates during the years of study with Paul Dukas. (notes from score) Popcopy Scott McAllister The three movements of “Popcopy” each stem from a moment in popular television or film. The first movement comes from a famous “Saturday Night Live” sketch in which a recording session is continually interrupted by the producer's need of "More Cowbell." The second movement titled "One Time, at Band Camp" features solo flute and relates to the movie “American Pie.” The final movement, "Serenity Now!" draws on an episode of the TV series “Seinfeld” and the less-than-serene mood of George Costanza's father.
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Location: Concert Hall-Stage
Start Time: 7:30 PM
End Time: 9:00 PM
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