Thank you for your good work last night. I am so proud of what you’ve accomplished as I hope you are too. The CLCB sounds amazing. I will be sad to let this music go after Tuesday.
Now is a good time to send a reminder to those you have invited to the concert. You truly deserve a full house on Tuesday, but to get there each of us has to ensure at least 5 attendees with several going beyond that. Work your contacts and social media. And remind them to come early to get a good parking spot and seat. I think if you tell them about our concert and that you’d really like them to attend, they will.
Thank you for coming early to set up last night. We even started early. It would be great to start early every Tuesday. Julie gave us the timeline for this Tuesday last night. Be sure to tell your section leader if you are running late. And try to leave the best parking spots for our fans.
Shine up your horn for the big show and for the pics that follow. And while you’re at it, be sure to take care of yourself too. Plenty of water, gatorade, rest, etc…
I know I still need to practice and listen to those recordings. Et tu?
Remember the concert black dress code. Consider wearing your best concert black, including a coat for the men if you have it. Choose slacks over jeans, etc… And please wear black shoes and socks. Just saying’.
We have had some outstanding March concerts with Carmina Burana, Ireland, Firebird, Planets et al. This one promises to be the best.
We’re using ‘copious’ program notes for this concert, but we’ve had to edit them due to program space. If you’d like to peruse the entire notes, here ya’ go:
A Festival Prelude
Written in 1956, this work was dedicated to and premiered by the Phillips University Band of Enid, Oklahoma, with the composer conducting, as part of the 25th anniversary of the Tri‐State Music Festival. Alfred Reed (1921-2005) said, “The work was conceived specifically in terms of its title as an opening kind of piece...the music was to establish a bright and brilliant mood throughout, with no other connotation in mind.” Two fanfare‐like motifs and a main theme occur throughout the composition using the brass and woodwinds separately and combined to impart tone color and majesty. In 1991, the composer commented, “A Festival Prelude was originally written for performance by a university group of players, and I do recall there having been some difficulties with some of the more demanding textures of the work at that time, 34 years ago. I also recall not offering the work for performance for nearly four years after its first performance, despite the willingness of the publisher. I was hesitant to publish on the ground that I did not feel there were a sufficient number of high school bands in the country who could cope with it as a whole.”
Sonata in A minor
Georg Phillipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Arranged by Alfred Reed
Libby Brown, flute
Libby Brown graduated in 2016 from St. Olaf College, where she majored in biology with a concentration in biomolecular science and played in the St. Olaf Band. Currently, she works as a laboratory technician at American Preclinical Services. She has been playing with the City of Lakes Community Band for two years and is excited to share her performance of Telemann’s Suite in A Minor with you.
March of the Belgian Paratroopers
Arranged by Charles Wiley
While Leemans (1987-1980) was serving in the Belgian army during World War I, on a request from his commander he began to write a march, which he did not finish. During World War II, when the Belgian parachute brigade was formed, he was having dinner with a group of paratroopers and was again asked to compose a march. During one single night Leemans composed this march on themes recalled from his earlier effort. The trio of the march originated from a march written for a N.I.R. radio contest. After only winning the consolation prize, the march was abandoned and is known with the competition designation ‘V.’ A quiet, unaggressive essay in the easy-paced European style, it is set in the form of a “patrol,” the music marches on from the distance, plays, and passes.
Credited to Girolamo Frescobaldi
Arranged by Earl Slocum
A toccata is a rhapsodic form of instrumental music. Originally written for the organ, it is essentially a solo piece which was improvised. The name “toccata” indicates that it was conceived as a “touch piece” characterized by rhapsodic sections with sustained chords, scale passages, and broken figuration. The present toccata consists of three sections with tempos of slow, fast, and slow. The rhapsodic beginning and closing sections enclose a quick middle section, featuring french horns, which is based on a development of a tuneful fanfare motif. The subject is treated antiphonally and is varied continually through the addition of new counter-subjects and accompaniments. The movement concludes with a short, fast coda.
Girolamo Frescobaldi was originally credited as the composer of the Toccata. Musical scholars in the late 20th century began to question the existence of Romantic references within the Baroque setting of the piece. In 1982, it was discovered that Gaspar Cassadó (1897-1966), the son of Spanish composer Joaquin Cassadó and a student of Pablo Casals, had written the work in 1925 for cello and piano and had attributed it to Frescobaldi to promote the work. Attributing new works to established composers has occurred frequently in musical history. Gaspar Cassadó was an accomplished cellist. In addition to the Toccata, he wrote an oratorio, a cello concerto, a rhapsody, and several chamber works.
Symphony No. I, The Divine Comedy (1995-1997)
Robert W. Smith
Commissioned by The James Madison University Band and The George Mason University Band
The Divine Comedy is a four movement work based on Dante Alighieri’s celebrated work, now known as The Divine Comedy. “La Commedia”, as Dante originally named it, is an imaginary journey through the three realms of the afterlife: inferno (hell), purgatorio (purgatory) and paradiso (heaven).
Dante wrote the comedy during his exile from Florence between 1302 and his death in 1321. The epic poem is termed a comedy because unlike tragedies that begin on a high note and end tragically, comedies begin badly but end well. The poem indeed ends well, with the protagonist, Dante himself, reaching his desired destination – heaven – a place of beauty and calm, light, and ultimate good. Conversely, the inferno is dark, morose and inhabited by irredeemable sinners.
Dante set the beginning of the story on Maundy Thursday, 1300, when he was 35 years old. He alludes to being “middle aged” in the opening lines of the poem:
Halfway through our life’s journey
I woke to find myself within a dark wood
because I had strayed from the correct path.
Oh how hard it is to describe
how harsh and tough that savage wood was
The very thought of it renews the fear!
Dante alludes to an apocalyptic dream of the biblical Book of Revelation:
Lost in a dark wood Dante is faced with three menacing beasts, a leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf - respectively symbolizing lust, pride and greed preventing his escape. As Dante despairs, a character based on the Roman poet Virgil appears, announcing that he has been sent to guide him through hell. Later, having confessed his sins, and with his beloved Beatrice as his guide, Dante is led into Paradise and attains a glimpse of the face of God granting his return to Earth.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!
So warns the inscription on the gates of the inferno, the first realm of Dante’s celebrated work. The movement follows the epic poem, using musical references to the events in select cantos of Inferno. Dante first enters Limbo where souls that died before Jesus wait, neither in heaven nor hell. Enormous crescendos, violent percussion, and towering blocks of sound quickly lead into Dante’s vision of The Wall of Dis (Gates of Hell). He soon passes through Hell’s seven realms. The music depicts the sins of “violence” with its intense storms and fiery sands. The crimes of “ordinary fraud” follow the violent sinners. The composer used the sin of hypocrisy as visual imagery in the formation of this section. Dante describes the hypocrites as they file endlessly in a circle, clothed in coats of lead which represent the weight of the their hypocrisy on earth. During this dirge the sinners step on the corpse of Caiaphas. The final section of the Inferno features the sins of “treacherous fraud.” Here malicious chaos and whip cracks are followed by howls of pain. As Dante enters this circle of Hell, he hears the dreadful blast of a bugle. “Not even Roland’s horn, which followed on the sad defeat when Charlemagne had lost his holy army, was as dread as this.” Dante and Virgil are lowered into the last section of Hell by giants who are constantly pelted with bolts of lightning. As their journey nears the end, they are confronted with the sight of Dis (Lucifer) whose three mouths are eternally rending traitors Judas, Brutus and Cassius. Dante and Virgil climb down the flanks of Satan, exiting to the other hemisphere, leaving the fiery world of the Inferno behind.
Dante, having completed his journey through the Inferno, is brought by Virgil to the shores of the island mountain of Purgatory in the midst of the southern ocean. The mountain is comprised of seven terraces leading to the top in concentric circles, each representing one of the “seven deadly sins.” In each terrace sinners are given an appropriate penance, which is symbolically tied to their transgressions on earth. The sufferings are voluntarily accepted by the spirits in atonement for their sins. The composer has woven together musical elements depicting each of the sins of the seven terraces. The sin of the first terrace is “pride.” The souls plod slowly around the mountain, doubled over by huge rocks on their backs, which represent their level of sin. As the composition develops, the sounds of lamenting souls dragging the heavy loads can be heard against the mournful, haunting melodic line. The souls of Purgatory are often musical beings: they express their sensations in songs, hymns, and psalms. Purgatory is the realm of hope where the proud, envious, wrathful, slothful, prodigal (avaricious), gluttonous, and lustful may atone for their sins on earth. As Dante and Virgil continue up the mountain, they feel a violent earthquake at which all of the spirits proclaim “Gloria in excelsis Deo!” (Glory to God in the highest). Dante learns that the quaking signals the completion of one soul’s penance, for which all the other souls give thanks and pray it will be there turn next as they return to their endless march. The completion of the penance allows the soul to ascend to “Paradiso” (heaven), taking his or her rightful position in relation to God.
The Ascension begins with Dante gazing up to the stars from atop the Mountain of Purgatory. Having been instructed and purified in Purgatory, he is prepared for his journey to Paradise. In the distance he hears the most beautiful sound he’s ever heard, the “Music of the Spheres,” accompanied by beams of light. Beatrice, now his guide, lifts her eyes toward the sun. Following her example, Dante looks to the sun and is at that moment transformed (“trans-human-ized”) in preparation for his great adventure. A swift horn call starts the ascension, a flight faster than the speed of thought accompanied by sounds of wondrous beauty and intensity. He ascends to the Sphere of Fire before arriving at Heaven’s Gate.
In “Paradiso,” the composer was faced with the same basic problem that confronted Dante in his literary masterpiece. What description of heaven will have a universal appeal? The sensory experiences on which Dante built his heaven were sights and sounds. The sights consisted of brilliant lights with varied colors, symbolic formations, and combined with their hypnotic movements. The sounds were those of the imagination, conjured by the reader’s own past experience with unheard melodies “sweeter than those heard on earth.” It was Dante’s hope that scenes presented to our imagination through the language of poetry may surpass the remembered scenes of our own experiences.
In “Paradiso,” Dante awakes lost in a black void but is soon enamored with the sight of light growing brighter and more intense with each sphere of his journey. The composer has called upon the mallet percussion and triangles to represent those beans of light. Beginning with a single tone (beam), the intensity grows with each entrance until we are surrounded by lights of multiple colors and complexities. As the light engulfs the listener, we are presented with the sounds of joy, peace, love, and hope… growing even brighter as the journey through the spheres progress.
As the listener arrives at the Empyrean (the region of pure light), the “Music of the Spheres” is restated in brilliant fashion by the brass. The light continues to intensify as woodwind colors swirl around the brass figures. The sights and sounds grow even brighter as Dante sees a river of light which is transformed into a great rose at whose center is the wonderful source of the lights. Upon the petals are seated the saints, clad in the whitest of robes. Angels fly up from the heart of the rose to the petals, their faces of living flame, their wings of gold, their bodies white as the purest snow. Dante looks to the highest tier, where Mary sits enthroned, surrounded by a thousand angels. She is surrounded by heroines of the Old Testament: Eve, Rachel, Sarah, Rebecca, Judith, and Ruth. On Mary’s opposite side are the male figures of the Christian era: John the Baptist, St. Francis, St. Benedict and St. Augustine as well as Adam, Peter, Moses, and the apostle John. The lower tiers of the rose are filled with thousands of infants, purified in their glorious innocence. With a gracious smile form the Virgin Mary, Dante is permitted the Beatific Vision. He lifts his eyes toward the heart of the rose. Within one blinding light, he recognizes three separate lights in the form of interlocking circles (a symbol of the Trinity). Within one circle he perceives the dim image of a human face, a glimpse of the face of God, a reminder that God, through Christ, lived - and still lives - as man on earth.
Robert W. Smith (b. 1958) is a Professor of Music and Coordinator of the Music Industry Program in Troy University’s John M. Long School of Music. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he is one of the most popular composers in the world today with over 700 published works. The majority of his work was published through his long association with Warner Bros. Publications. Mr. Smith is the President/CEO of RWS Music Company, exclusively distributed through C. L. Barnhouse.
He studied at Troy University and earned a masters degree at the University of Miami where he studied composition with Alfred Reed.
Mr. Smith’s works for band and orchestra have been programmed by countless professional, university, and school ensembles throughout the North America, Europe, Australia, South America and Asia. His music has received extensive airplay on network television as well as inclusion in multiple motion pictures and television productions. His “Into The Storm” was featured on the 2009 CBS Emmy Awards telecast for the HBO’s mini-series documenting the life of Winston Churchill.
Mr. Smith’s teaching responsibilities at Troy University are focused in media composition, audio and live event production, publishing and entrepreneurship.