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“The Battle Pavane” is an instrumental piece by Tielman Susato which he published in 1551 in alderhande Danserye, a collection of Renaissance dance music. It is often played by Renaissance bands and at festivals featuring consorts of like instruments, usually brass. Tielman Susato (1500-1561) was an amateur musician who set himself as a printer and publisher of his, and other people’s, music. There was no indication on the original score as to the instrumentation, but Susato said, “The dances shall be pleasing and appropriate, to be played on instruments of all kinds.” This pavane appears to be more of a battle piece in pavane form, although one could envision a performance using dancers dressed as soldiers. Perhaps this pavane is a sort of Renaissance marching band piece; the antiphonal horn calls in the middle section and the majesty and sweep of the ending suggest a ceremonial or processional use.
Most people know this tune as “Danny Boy” or “Londonderry Air.” The tune itself is immortal, expressing deep sincerity and emotion and this version by Percy Grainger distinguishes itself for its artistry, sophistication and sensitivity. This setting of “Irish Tune” is a study in evolving musical textures that flow naturally from one to another, without seeming to repeat. It features beautiful, delicate part-writing for both woodwinds and brass, highlighting each family in turn.
An Australian composer and pianist, Grainger was quite the odd duck – he actually made a list that ranked composers, and put himself at number 9. He had a love for folk music and traveled around with a phonograph in order to record ordinary people singing the music of their heritage. It has been said that Grainger never had the slightest hesitation in pumping anybody he came across. He would go up to a man ploughing and ask him if he knew any songs and as often as not the man would stand for a minute or two and sing him a song in the most natural way in the world.
“Florentiner March (Grande marcia Italiana)” was written in 1907 by the prolific Bohemian (Czech) composer and bandmaster Julius Fučik while in Budapest, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This was a time when central European composers were writing in the style of foreign lands including Russia, Spain, and Italy. This march pays homage to Florence, Italy as the title suggests.
Much like John Philip Sousa, the hundreds of compositions written by “The Bohemian Sousa” stretch far beyond mere marches, with Fučik having also written operettas, masses, chamber music, and a symphonic suite. Similar to Sousa’s “Free Lance March,” “Florentiner” is seemingly an operetta in condensed form. As band scholar Norman Smith has noted,
One can imagine the theater curtains opening to two trumpet fanfares followed by a stately march as the residents of that grand city rush to welcome the large entourage of a nobleman, with flowers thrown by the crowd to the procession. Suddenly, our nobleman sees a beautiful courtesan and the two converse in a gentle interlude that becomes quieter as the conversation gets more personal. Chirps from the woodwinds denote the start of gossip by the village women in response. The brass give a loud proclamation that the couple are to be wed and a celebratory theme concludes the happy scene as the curtains close.
In the “Enigma Variations,” Edward Elgar introduces a theme that serves as the basis for a series of fourteen variations, each a musical depiction of a person in the composer’s life. As Elgar commented: “This work, commenced in a spirit of humor and continued in deep seriousness, contains sketches of the composer’s friends. It may be understood that these personages comment or reflect upon the original theme and each one attempts a solution of the Enigma, for so the theme is called.” If his later account is to be believed, Elgar hit on the theme while improvising at the piano. He amused himself and his wife by varying it as their friends might have done “if they were asses enough to compose.” He developed the “portraits” on paper, completing the score, according to his note, on Feb 18 1898 (although it was actually 1899). Soon he was playing some of the variations to friends.
Variation I (C.A.E.)—This is for Caroline Alice Elgar and is the composer’s loving tribute to his wife. The oboes and bassoons play a four-note motif Elgar always whistled upon returning home. “The variation is really a prolongation of the theme with what I wished to be romantic and delicate additions; those who knew C.A.E. will understand this reference to one whose life was a romantic and delicate inspiration.”
Variation IV (W.M.B.)—William Meath Baker, “a country squire, gentleman and scholar.” “In the days of horses and carriages it was more difficult than in these days of petrol to arrange the carriages for the day to suit a large number of guests.” The shortest of the Variations, it depicts W.M.B. informing his guests of arrangements he made for their transportation and then hurriedly leaving the room with an “inadvertent bang of the door.”
Variation IX (Nimrod)— “Nimrod” is Elgar’s depiction of his friend, August Jaeger (“jaeger” in German means “hunter,” thus the reference to Nimrod, the biblical hunter). This glorious Adagio is the composer’s fond recollection of “a long summer evening talk, when my friend grew nobly eloquent (as only he could) on the grandeur of Beethoven, and especially his slow movements.” August Jaeger was a German-born musician of frail health and great soul who worked for the London music publishing house of Novello and who, more than anyone except Alice Elgar, sustained the composer through his frequent and severe periods of depression. “Nimrod” is the most famous of the variations and is often programmed without the rest of the work. It is most notably used in England for events such as funerals and memorial services, and is always played on Remembrance Sunday, a ceremony acknowledging the sacrifices of British servicemen and women in both World Wars and subsequent conflicts. In the United States, it has often been used for 9/11 tributes.
Variation XIV (Finale: E.D.U.)—These are no one’s initials but run them together and they give you Alice’s nickname for Edward (Edoo). Alice returns, as does Nimrod, and the music ends in a blaze. Elgar recalled he created this section “at a time when friends were dubious and generally discouraging about the composer’s musical future.” However, there is no lack of self-confidence in the heroic Finale.
In 1952, the West Point Band commissioned 13 new works for military band in celebration of West Point’s 150th anniversary. One of the earliest attempts to establish a new repertoire for bands, it opened the door for wind ensemble music to be taken seriously as an art form, and it helped set a new precedent for college and professional bands all over the country. Captain Francis Resta, the West Point Band’s Commander and West Point teacher of music from 1934 to 1957, recruited several of the world’s most esteemed composers, including Morton Gould, Roy Harris, Darius Milhaud, Robert Russell Bennett and William Grant Still to create works for the occasion. He also looked “in-house” for other composers and 2nd Lieutenant Robert Dvorak was selected. Lt. Dvorak was one of the Assistant Bandmasters of the West Point Band. Resta sent each of the composers the West Point Songbook to gather musical material and inspiration for their works. Each composer was invited to visit West Point as a guest of the Academy, and to conduct the premiere of their work with a custom-made baton crafted from a tree on post. This special band, in addition to regular duties at academy functions, performed at prestigious ceremonies for American presidents, heads of foreign countries, ambassadors, generals, and members of Congress.
Lt. Dvorak composed “West Point Symphony,” a three-movement symphony based on themes of the Academy, and today the third movement, “Allegro Spiritoso,” is a classic in band literature.
From the composer, Frank Ticheli:
Vesuvius, the volcano that destroyed Pompeii in A.D. 79, is an icon of power and energy in this work. Originally I had in mind a wild and passionate dance such as might have been performed at an ancient Roman bacchanalia. During the compositional process, I began to envision something more explosive and fiery. With its driving rhythms, exotic modes, and quotations from the Dies Irae from the medieval Requiem Mass, it became evident that the bacchanalia I was writing could represent a dance from the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii. Frank Ticheli is an American composer of orchestral, choral, chamber, and concert band works. He lives in Los Angeles, California, where he is a Professor of Composition at the University of Southern California. He was the Pacific Symphony‘s composer-in-residence from 1991 to 1998, composing numerous works for that orchestra. A number of his works are particularly notable, as they have become standards in concert band repertoire.
Les Misérables is a sung-through musical based on the novel Les Misérables by French poet and novelist Victor Hugo. It has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, original French lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, with an English-language libretto by Herbert Kretzmer. The London production has run continuously since October 1985: the second longest-running musical in the world.
Set in early 19th-century France, it is the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant, and his quest for redemption after serving nineteen years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child. Valjean decides to break his parole and start his life anew after a kindly bishop inspires him by a tremendous act of mercy, but he is relentlessly tracked down by a police inspector named Javert. Along the way, Valjean and a slew of characters are swept into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade.
This masterful medley includes: “At the End of the Day,” “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Master of the House,” “On My Own” and “Do You Hear the People Sing?”
Warren Barker (1923-2006) arranged this music. Educated at UCLA, Mr. Barker was an American composer for film, radio, television and Las Vegas clubs. He composed the incidental music for the hit 1960s TV series Bewitched and he composed and arranged numerous pieces for concert band.
Meet the Artists
The Plano Community Band is a volunteer organization made up of approximately 70 musicians from all walks of life who share a passion for music. The band performs two Spring concerts and a Fall concert each year at the beautiful Eisemann Center in Richardson, but is best known for its Summer concerts at Haggard Park, in old downtown Plano. The Summer Series begins the first Monday in June, and performances at the park continue every other Monday evening for a total of five concerts. The band has themes for each concert including kids’ night, big band and a patriotic concert.
The band is a nonprofit organization sponsored in part by the Plano Cultural Arts Commission. The band is also supported by John Paul II High School, member dues and from generous donors in the community. There is never an admission charged for any of the band’s public performances.
The Plano Community Band is a proud member of the Association of Concert Bands, an international organization dedicated to the advancement of adult community bands. The band has performed at several of their national conventions as well as hosted the conventions in 1992 and 2010, and recently performed at the 2022 convention in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Plano Community Band’s Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, is a retired music educator and band director with over 35 years of experience working with student and adult musicians in Texas and Georgia. He was born in Harlingen in the Rio Grande Valley and spent most of his adult years in Richardson and Sherman, Texas. Joe is a third-generation band director. His father, Joe Frank, Sr., was a well-known Texas band director and orchestra director and charter member of the Phi Beta Mu Band Director Hall of Fame. Joe taught for 17 years in the Richardson ISD where mentors such as Joe Frank, Sr.; Richard Floyd; Tommy Guilbert; Robert Floyd and Howard Dunn helped form his concepts of teaching students and interpreting, rehearsing and performing wind band literature. In 1990, Joe became Director of Bands for the Sherman ISD and helped lead the Sherman Bands to 14 years of successful performances, competitions and statewide recognition. While living in Athens, Georgia, Joe became director of the Classic City Band and developed a love for working and making music with adults. Joe currently lives in Denison, Texas, with his wife, Becky. He is a frequent clinic/consultant and adjudicator for middle school and high school bands. His daughter, Jessica, is a stay-at-home mom and volunteer youth leader. She currently plays clarinet in the Band. His son, Jeff, is a pediatric neurologist in Oregon. Joe enjoys sailing, golf, snow skiing, and traveling with Becky.
Plano Community Band’s Associate Conductor, Business Manager, and Event Coordinator, was born in Texas City, Texas, and has made Plano his home since 1969, going through the Plano schools and the band program at Plano Senior High. During his high school days, Jim was privileged to have played with Doc Severinsen and Alan Vizzutti, and his first love always seemed to be jazz. After graduation, he was selected to play with the National Bandmasters Association Jazz Band, performing with Marvin Stamm at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Jim attended Sam Houston State University on a music scholarship, receiving his degree in Music Education in 1991. While at Sam Houston, Jim studied under Dr. Fisher Tull, Dr. Gary Sousa and Dr. Rod Cannon. Jim also headed up the recording and archiving of concert performances and was a member of Kappa Kappa Psi. After teaching a couple of years, Jim returned to Plano and began working in the communications field. He currently holds the position of Director of A/V and Computer Services for the 4,500-member Custer Road United Methodist Church. To keep music in his life, Jim joined the Plano Community Band in 1993 as the baritone saxophone player. Jim also plays with many Dallas-area jazz and big bands. He became the Band’s associate conductor in 1995.
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