ABOUT THIS MUSIC
As I assembled this program of works (and as UMSLWE and UMSLO were working to craft this performance for you this evening), I was struck by the newness that this music evokes. Heard in the dawn-breaking sounds of Björk, Sibelius, and Maslanka, and in the "rebirth" of renaissance dances (re-composed and re-imagined during the 20th Century). It occurred to me that this idea of newness, of rebirth, of re-starting, felt a bit autobiographical for these ensembles, and for myself. As we embark on a new journey of discovery, I am grateful for these wonderful musicians, their professors, and the greater community (you!) for continuously supporting, developing, and redeveloping their artistry to suit an ever-changing world.
- David Wacyk
BJÖRK Overture to Dancer in the Dark
Winner of Cannes Film Festival’s Palm d’Or in 2000, Dancer in the Dark is a genre-defying cinematic creation, incorporating elements of melodrama, documentary, musical, and experimental film, shot in the manner of cinema vérité. The audience is made to feel as though they are a participant, rather than an observer, in the tumultuous and descending trajectory of the main character, Selma.
The Overture begins by rising from the stasis of the opening pedal. As the music develops, layers of the brass chorale establish a haunting, shimmering, melancholic mood upon which a main theme emerges. This motif is restated and elaborated, each time becoming simultaneously more urgent and inexorably entwined in the darkening complexity of the work’s underlying harmonic web. As quickly as the work crests, it dissolves back to a more stable form of the stasis from which it grew.
JEAN SIBELIUS Andante Festivo
Originally scored for string quartet in 1922, A Sibelius later rescored Andante Festivo for string orchestra and timpani in 1938. The piece was premiered on New Year’s Day in 1939 as part of a live worldwide broadcast for the New York World Exhibition. Sibelius, often recognized as Finland’s greatest composer, conducted that premiere performance with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra as a greeting to the world from Finland. The recording now serves as the only existing record of the composer interpreting his own work. Andante Festivo was clearly an important work to Sibelius, and it was in stark contrast to his larger form orchestral works that had dominated most of his career. The 1939 premiere was his last performance as a conductor, but the music stayed with him until the end. The piece was played at his funeral.
GEORGE WALKER Lyric for Strings (arr. Gregory Walker)
Written when he was only 24 years old, Walker first conceived the music that became Lyric as a middle movement for his first string quartet and originally titled it “Lament” in dedication to his grandmother who died the year prior. The piece fluidly and dramatically alternates between lush harmonies and stark solo passages which showcase the range of sounds possible in the string orchestra. In an interview not long before his death, Walker commented: “I never played a string instrument, but somehow strings have always fascinated me.” In Lyric, we hear the beginning of this life-long fascination.
PETER WARLOCK Capriol (Suite for String Orchestra)
This is a set of six contrasting dances in a renaissance style. Each movement is based on music from a dance manual called the Orchésographie, by the French priest Jehan Tabourot (1519–95). The essence of Warlock’s Capriol Suite was new and innovative during the 1920's; his treatment of the dances is very free and bears little resemblance to the tunes in their original form. Because of this, the work is widely considered more of an original composition than an arrangement of existing material. Each of the dances is presented in the order in which they appear in Tabourot’s manual with this exception of Bransles, which includes portions of several different tunes. Each movement title reflects the specific dance being portrayed, for example Mattachins is a sword dance, and Bransles are country dances. Of particular note is Warlock’s occasional use of more adventurous harmonies. These discords, used very sparingly, not only exhibit Warlock’s unique stamp but also reveal these dances in a distinctly modern light.
DAVID MASLANKA On This Bright Morning
Of this work, the composer writes:
There are times of stability in life, and times of significant transition. Transitions can be upsetting, often provoked or accompanied by physical or emotional troubles. They are times of uncertainty and unknowing, but also the times of greatest creative
change. “On This Bright Morning” acknowledges the struggle, and the feelings of pain and loss in times of transition, but embodies the pure joy of realizing the bigger life. On this bright morning, life is new, life is possible. The following is from a Bill Moyers interview with the poet, Jane
Kenyon, who suffered chronic depression, and who died of leukemia at age 48:
“Yes, there are things in life that we must endure that are all but unendurable, and yet I feel that there is a great goodness. Why, when there could have been nothing, is there something? How, when there could have been nothing, does it happen that there is love, kindness, beauty?”
FLORENCE PRICE Adoration (arr. Cheldon Williams)
Florence Price was a prolific American composer who, because of society's restrictions of women of color, struggled to get her contributions accepted into the musical canon during her life, and even in the decade's after her passing. A trailblazer, Price is considered the first Black woman recognized as a symphonic composer and was the first to have her music performed by a major American orchestra when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra gave the world premiere of her Symphony No. 1 in 1933.
"Adoration" in its original form is one of Price's compositions for organ and fits within the genre of her semisecular output. The work is beautifully scored for Wind Ensemble by Cheldon Williams, and reflects the romance and optimism, of the time in which it was written.
TIELMAN SUSATO Selections from the Danserye (arr. Patrick Dunnigan)
The Arranger writes:
The Danserye is a set of instrumental dances based on popular tunes of the time, arranged by Susato and published in 1551 as Het derdemusyckboexken. With more than 50 individual dances in a variety of forms, the collection is notable for its simple textures and strict homophony. Specific instrumentation is not indicated, thus suggesting that the tunes were performed by whatever combination of winds and strings was available.
Dunnigan's arrangement (which you'll hear tonight) utilizes the full resources of the modern wind band, featuring various sections (or consorts of instruments) in alteration with powerful tutti passages. While the wind parts remain faithful to the original material, the dances are energized with a healthy dose of contemporary percussion effects and a significant part for acoustic guitar. This blend of sound generates a new but familiar element, thus making something very modern out of music that is more than 450 years old.
ABOUT THE MUSICIANS
(click on underlined links for more info)
Director of Instrumental Ensembles, Assistant Teaching Professor of Music
Haydn Jones (principal)
Emma Abernathy (principal)
John Tobin (principal)
Mike Todd (principal)
UMSL Wind Ensemble
Katlynn Connor (piccolo)
Krishaun Dotson-Orange (flugel)