Page 4 of 21
Radiant Joy – Concert Program
March 4, 2013 at 2:30 P.M.
Joey Resendez, Alto Saxophone*
RADIANT JOY – Program Notes
Rocky Point Holiday (1966)
This 1969 composition was Ron Nelson’s first major work for band. It was commissioned for the University of Minnesota Band’s Russia tour. Rocky Point Holiday was written in Rocky Point, Rhode Island while the composer was on vacation.
The composition begins with forceful octave writing for the upper winds, and almost immediately turns with an obligato pattern in the clarinets and alto saxophone (made up of two sixteenths and an eighth note). Legato lines begin to emerge in the flutes and first clarinets, as the obligato continues, until at number 2 the syncopated main theme is introduced in the brass section. The middle of the composition has a “Gershwinesque” feel to it, somewhat reminiscent of An American in Paris, with its legato horns and punctuated, muted trumpets. A beautiful impressionistic section ensues, and provides a magical atmosphere, with swirls of notes in the high woodwinds, and sustained pedal effects beneath ala Ravel or Respighi. The theme is tossed around from section to section as the work generates enormous energy and excitement as it approaches the end with strength and clarity. The main theme is stretched and written in augmentation as the composer unfolds the exciting ending.
Hymn to a Blue Hour (2010)
Jack Wallace writes, “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.
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, succumbing at the work’s conclusion with a sense of peaceful repose.”
Concert Suite for Alto Sax (1998)
Concert Suite for Alto Sax and Band was commissioned by the University of Michigan Band Alumni Association and has been performed and recorded by several leading saxophonists and wind ensembles. The opening movement, Lively, contrasts several fanfare gestures between soloist and ensemble with a playful melody appearing first in the saxophone. The ascending and descending chromatic scale first established in this movement is an important melodic and harmonic tool throughout the work. The second movement is a simple, lush folksong-like melody original to the composer. The movement features the solo saxophone with a euphonium and tuba duet underneath, climaxing in a powerful statement of the tune. The final movement begins with a slow, jazzy introduction and culminates in a fast and rather aggressive dance, or Jump.
Radiant Joy (2006)
The composer writes, “Radiant Joy was my first new work for winds after two and a half years away, and one that I hope is equal to its title in character and purity of intent. It comes after a difficult period in my personal life, and thus its character was something of a surprise to me. This work began life as a strict, 12-tone, serialized creature modeled on Webern - I wanted something sparse and tightly constructed (in harmonic and intervallic terms), while still retaining a vital rhythmic pulse. After several sketches that ended in anger and frustration, I realized I was metaphorically banging my head against the creative wall, and perhaps I should stop forcing this music into existence with a prescriptive process, and simply listen inwardly to what I actually wanted to hear. The result is simultaneously the opposite of what I was originally trying to create, and also its direct realization - the vital rhythmic pulse is still prominent, but the harmonic materials veered toward the language of 70s/80s funk/jazz/fusion (at least, that’s what I’ve been told). Regardless, the piece is intended to emanate joy and ‘good vibes’ (literally - the vibraphone is critical to the piece!), for the performers, the audience, and the composer!”
Sleep, My Child (2013)
The composer writes, “Sleep, My Child is a piece from my work for music theater Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings. In the show it appears midway through Act II and is performed by three angels—two sopranos and a mezzo. For years, the American choir Chanticleer and I have been looking for something on which we could collaborate, and an arrangement of Sleep, My Child was the project we finally settled upon. Chanticleer is an all-male group (12 men), but they insisted that I write it ‘pure SATB.’ The purity of tone that the ensemble (and especially those legendary male sopranos) brought to the music matched perfectly with the delicate, ethereal sounds I had in my head.”
Adapted for band in 2012 at the request of the composer, this arrangement of Sleep, My Child is the latest title in a growing catalog of compositions (October, Sleep, Lux Aurumque, and The Seal Lullaby) that illustrate Whitacre’s sincere commitment to creating more “lush, beautiful music for winds.”
Finale from Sixth Symphony (2008)
In 2005, James Barnes received a commission from Roy Holder to compose a work for his excellent Lake Braddock High School Band. As the composer began working on the piece during the summer of 2007, it evolved from a large, one-movement work into a three-movement symphony, one with smaller proportions than those of his earlier efforts in the medium and a piece that was not as technically demanding for the players as the earlier symphonies. The result was his Sixth Symphony, opus 130. It was premiered by the Lake Braddock High School Band in Burke, Virginia on June 4, 2008.