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ClassicsOnline Home » Wind Band Music - TURINA, J. / BERNSTEIN, L. / BONNEY, J. / NIXON, R. / KOH, Chang Su (Converging Cultures) (Lone Star Wind Orchestra, Corporon)
This program brings the old world of festive Spain in Turina’s La Procession du Rocío into a meeting with Roger Nixon’s Californian ‘tonal fresco’ Fiesta del Pacifico. Chang Su Koh’s Korean Dances use exotic traditional rhythms, whereas Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances refer to Cuban cha-cha and the Mexican mambo. James Bonney’s Chaos Theory is a concerto for electric guitar which fuses hard-rock intensity with classical sophistication. The Lone Star Wind Orchestra’s American Tapestry album (8.570968) was described as ‘completely stunning.’ (MusicWeb International)
By Brian Reinhart
Converging Cultures: Music for Wind Band
Joaquín Turina (1882–1949) • Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990) • James Bonney (b. 1974) • Roger Nixon (1921–2009) • Chang Su Koh (b. 1970)
Joaquín Turina (1882–1949): La Procession du Rocío, Op. 9 (1912, transcribed by Alfred Reed, 1962)
Joaquín Turina was born in Seville, Spain. Much of his early study took place in Madrid, where he became acquainted with Manuel de Falla, whose style was to have a profound influence on him. Turina later studied in Paris, where he familiarized himself with the works of Debussy and Ravel, whose impressionistic harmonies would similarly influence the young composer. Upon returning to Spain in 1914, Turina spent the balance of his career developing his interests in the nationalistic music of his home country through prolific work in the genres of symphonic, chamber, solo piano, and vocal music as well as scores for cinema and stage.
During the early part of the twentieth century, nationalism was a popular trend among many composers. Notable Spanish composers who were drawn to this trend were Manuel de Falla, Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados, and Joaquín Turina. In La Procession du Rocío, Turina portrays a festival and procession that takes place in the Triana neighborhood of Seville and honors the Blessed Virgin. In the program notes to the orchestral score, Turina described the festival where “the people dance the soleare and seguidilla. In the midst of the dancing a drunkard sets off firecrackers, adding to the confusion. At the sound of flute and drums which announce the Procession, all dancing ceases.”
The work is divided into two movements, which are performed without pause. The first movement Triana en Fête (Festival of Triana) depicts the spirited neighborhood of Triana and is marked by a shift between duple and triple meters. The second movement, La Procession, portrays the slow journey through the town of Triana. Turina uses the flute and percussion to lead the procession through town followed by several repetitions of a religious theme. After three repetitions of the flute melody, the piece returns to material from the first movement before ending with a reflective passage.
Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990): Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (1961, transcribed by Paul Lavender, 2007)
The son of a Russian immigrant, Leonard Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He achieved fame first as a conductor when, at the age of twenty-five, with sixteen hours’ notice and inadequate rehearsal time, he conducted a Sunday afternoon broadcast of the New York Philharmonic when the scheduled conductor, Bruno Walter, fell ill. After serving as musical director of the New York Philharmonic for years, Bernstein devoted more time in his later years to composing, lecturing, and guest conducting.
Bernstein wrote symphonies, ballets, an opera, a film score, Broadway musicals, and several works for solo and chamber music groups. He divided his affections between traditional classical music and the Tin Pan Alley sound of popular America. Bernstein incorporated the element of jazz into many of his compositions, including his Mass and the score to West Side Story. Other notable works are Candide, Fancy Free, and Chichester Psalms. William Schumann said of Bernstein: “He is an authentic American hero, a new breed of hero, an arts hero, showing that America does honor her artists.” He perhaps has done more than anyone else to make listening to music exciting and understandable to the layman. His vast talents, charming personality, and mastery of semantics succeeded where many have failed in communicating his own intense enthusiasm for and love of music.
Symphonic Dances from West Side Story was first performed by the New York Philharmonic on an all-Bernstein concert in 1961, four years after the opening of West Side Story on Broadway. The songs of the musical had immediately become popular standards, while at the same time, the dance music had been sophisticated enough to find its way into the concert hall, similar to music of a ballet. Most composers for Broadway were songwriters who did not write their own dance music, but Bernstein, a fully trained composer who had already written two formal ballets, crafted these remarkable dances himself.
The following dances from the musical are included in the suite: The Prologue, a rivalry between the Sharks and the Jets; Somewhere, a dream sequence in which the two gangs are friendly; Scherzo, a continuation of the dream, as the gangs break out of the city into a world of open space; Mambo, a competitive dance between the gangs; Cha-Cha, when Tony and Maria see one another for the first time; Meeting Scene, a short, musical underscoring for their first words together; Cool, for when the Jets anticipate a fight; the Rumble, in which the two gang leaders are killed; and the Finale, love music and a procession that recalls Somewhere but now in a tragic mood.
James Bonney (b. 1974): Chaos Theory (2000)
James Bonney has composed in a variety of styles including avant-garde, symphonic orchestra and traditional jazz big-band, as well as all styles of pop, rock, world-beat and contemporary electronica. He graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1994 with a double degree in classical guitar performance and audio recording technology and completed the advanced studies program in “Scoring for Motion Picture and Television” at the University of Southern California in May of 1999.
Chaos Theory is a concerto for electric guitar and wind orchestra, commissioned by the University of Nevada Las Vegas Wind Orchestra, Thomas G. Leslie conducting. This three-movement piece includes numerous improvisational sections, which afford the soloist a great deal of freedom for interpretation (herein lies the “Chaos”).
Bonney writes, “In this piece, I wanted to fuse progressive/hard rock intensity with classical sophistication. I wanted to blur the line between something precise and mathematical and something primal and visceral. I wanted to pay homage to some of my musical influences: Rush, Beethoven, Metallica, JS Bach, Led Zeppelin, Shostakovich, Iron Maiden, Igor Stravinsky, King Crimson, George Lynch, Agustín Barrios-Mangore, John Petrucci (Dream Theatre), Frank Zappa, Anton Webern, and Steve Vai.”
Roger Nixon (1921–2009): Fiesta del Pacifico (1960)
Roger Nixon attended Modesto Junior College from 1938–1940 where he studied clarinet with former Sousa Band member, Frank Mancini. He continued his studies at the University of California at Berkeley, majoring in composition and receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1941. His studies were interrupted when he was called to active duty as a line officer in the Navy during World War II. Following the war Nixon returned to Berkeley, first receiving a MA degree and later a PhD. His composition teachers included Arthur Bliss, Ernest Bloch, and Roger Sessions. He also studied privately with Arnold Schoenberg in the summer of 1948. From 1951 to 1959, Nixon was on the music faculty at Modesto Junior College. He was then appointed to the faculty at San Francisco State College in 1960 and began a long association with their Symphonic Band, which premiered many of his works. Nixon received several awards including a Phelan Award, the Neil A. Kjos Memorial Award, and five grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1973 he was elected to the American Bandmasters Association.
Fiesta del Pacifico, dedicated to the San Francisco State College Symphonic Band and its director Edwin Kruth, refers to one of several festivals held annually in various communities throughout California, which celebrate the Old Spanish Days of the state. This particular festival is held in San Diego for twelve days in the summer and features a play on the history of the area, a parade, a rodeo, and street dances.
“Tonal fresco” is the phrase Nixon uses to describe this brief but evocative piece, adding that the concept is: “similar to that of a tone poem, or that of the music drama, in that some of the musical ideas have extra-musical connotations. It is impressionistic in that the aim is to create descriptive impressions rather than to tell a story. The work is a large dance movement, which makes frequent use of Spanish-Mexican idioms.”
Chang Su Koh (b. 1970): Korean Dances (2002)
Chang Su Koh, originally from Osaka, Japan, graduated from the Osaka College of Music with a degree in composition and entered the Musik Akademie der Stadt Basel. Koh has studied composition with Kunihiko Tanaka and Rudolf Kelterborn, and conducting with Jost Meyer. Awards he has received include the Twelfth Asahi Composition Prize, the Master Yves Leleu prize from the 1st Comines-Warneton International Composition Contest, Second prize from the Fifth Suita Music Contest composition section, and honorable mentions from the Thirteenth Nagoya City Cultural Promotion Contest and the First Zoltán Kodály Memorial International Composers Competition. Presently, Koh teaches at Osaka College of Music and ESA Conservatory of Music and Wind Repair Academy, and is a member of the Kansai Modern Music Association.
Korean Dances is a three-movement work that begins quietly with a tuba solo. Each following statement of the melody in the first movement is varied and gradually thickens in texture. Preludio ends as quietly as it started as the theme passes to several solo instruments. Passacaglia, the second movement, opens with the melody in the flute, which then passes through the ensemble in continuous variations. The final movement, Rondo – Finale, combines new melodic material and the same melody from the second movement with rhythms based upon a technique of Korean traditional music entitled Chirche Chandan.
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