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As the World Dances – Concert Program
April 22, 2012 at 2:30 P.M.
Caitlin Whitehouse, Violin*
AS THE WORLD DANCES – Program Notes
New World Dances (1998)
New World Dances was originally written for the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain for their American Tour during the summer of 1996. The concert band version was commissioned by the Royal Northern College of Music and their conductor, Timothy Reynish. It was premiered by that ensemble on April 6, 1998, in Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, England, as part of the seventeenth annual British Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles conference. New World Dances is comprised of three short movements that are meant to “recreate the pioneering spirit of the journey across America.” Ellerby states that the movement subtitles, “Earth,” “Moon” and “Sun” were meant to allude to a “stretching” or “searching” quality that he associated with the original discovery and pioneering aspect of America.
Richard and Renée (2009)
Richard and Renée is a gift to two friends of the composers, Renée Kershaw and Richard “Dick” Floyd. About the work, the composer writes the following:
"Contrary to possible assumption, these friends of mine are not a married couple nor do they even live in the same state. I met Renée a few years back when she was a clarinet student at the University of Colorado (and subsequently a student in one of my instrumentation classes). My great friend Erik Johnson introduced us about two years before they became engaged. I was fortunate to witness their engagement firsthand in Positano, Italy, during their visit to spend time with me in the summer of 2009. The first movement, “Renée’s Reply” is a musical portrait of our time together during their two weeks with me in Italy. The music strives for a poignancy inspired by this new event in their relationship accompanied by a backdrop so beautiful it defies words. A writer/composer (anyone, for that matter) cannot live on the Amalfi Coast and remain unchanged, unmarked. The second movement, “Floyd’s Fantastic Five-Alarm Foxy Frolic” is a ridiculous title. The generosity Dick Floyd has shown by shepherding me through a couple last-minute commissions makes him a hero of mine. My respect for Dick and all he has achieved in this profession is insurmountable. This joyous ragtime two-step has a lot of fun driving to the final bars… the last moment in the piece is over the top!"
Upriver was commissioned by a consortium of college band directors, led by Timothy A. Paul of the University of Oregon. The piece is an homage to the expedition led by Lewis and Clark across the Western United States during the first decade of the Nineteenth Century. Welcher writes about his work:
"I have written a sizeable number of works for wind ensemble that draw their inspiration from the monumental spaces found in the American West. Four of them (Arches, The Yellowstone Fires, Glacier and Zion) take their names, and in large part their being, from actual national parks in Utah, Wyoming and Montana. But Upriver, although it found its voice (and its finale) in the magnificent Columbia Gorge in Oregon, is about a much larger region. This piece, like its brother works about the national parks, doesn’t try to tell a story. Instead, it captures the flavor of a certain time, and of a grand adventure."
Welcher quotes a number of American folksongs throughout Upriver, to include: “Shenendoah,” “V'la Bon Vent,” “Soldier's Joy,” “Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier,” “Come Ye Sinners, Poor And Needy” (a hymn sung to the tune "Beech Spring") and “Fisher's Hornpipe.” The piece, though largely segmented, is complete as one continuous movement.
Slalom, originally scored for orchestra, was first performed at the 2001 Masterprize Finals by the London Symphony under Daniel Harding and has since been widely performed by orchestras throughout Europe and the United States. The wind version was commissioned by the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble, John Lynch, conductor, and premiered in 2003. Pann describes the work by writing:
"Slalom is a taste of the thrill of downhill skiing. The work is performed at a severe tempo throughout, showcasing the ensemble’s volatility and endurance. The idea for a piece like this came directly out of a wonderful discovery I made several years ago at Steamboat Springs, Colorado, when I embarked on the mountain-base gondola with a cassette player and headphones. At the time I was treating myself to large doses of Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. The exhilaration of barreling down the Rockies with such music pumping into my ears was overwhelming. After a few years of skiing with some of the greatest repertoire it occurred to me that I could customize the experience.
The work is presented as a collection of scenes and events one might come by on the slopes. The score is peppered with phrase-headings for the different sections such as “First Run,” “Open Meadow, Champagne Powder,” “Straight Down, Tuck,” and “On One Ski, Gyrating” among others. In this way Slalom shares its programmatic feature with that of Richard Strauss’s Alpine Symphony. The similarities end there, however, for Slalom lasts ten minutes…precisely the amount of time I need to get from Storm Peak (the peak of Mt. Werner, Steamboat Springs) to the mountain base."
"Molto Ritmico" from Dance Movements (1996)
Dance Movements was commissioned by the United States Air Force Band and was first performed at the Florida Music Educators Association Convention in January 1996. The piece is set in four movements, each dance-inspired (although no specific dance rhythms are used). About “Molto ritmico” the composer writes:
"The final movement bursts into life with a passage featuring the percussion section. The whole band then joins in until a driving bass ostinato establishes itself. Melodic snatches are thrown around the band until the gradual crescendo leads to a unison passage for the entire band. A robust theme appears on horns and saxophones but eventually the earlier sinister music returns. After a short pause a plaintive tune on the woodwinds leads to a more rhythmic one on the brass but it is not long before the percussion remind us of the opening of the movement and the ostinato reappears. The robust horn tune is this time played by the full band but the moment of triumph is short and a running passage appears which starts in the bottom of the band but works its way to the upper woodwinds. Eventually the brass play a noble fanfare which dispels the darker mood and ends the movement in a blaze of colour."
“Molto ritmico” is inspired by the music of Leonard Bernstein and is modeled after the dance music in West Side Story.