Composers and Heros

This is a shared performance of the CSU Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Cleveland Winds. The CSU group will perform pieces by contemporary American female composers: Kristin Kuster's Lost Gulch Lookout, Kathryn Salfelder's Crossing Parallels, and Julie Giroux's A Symphony of Fables.

The Cleveland Winds, with guest conductor and narrator Dr. Roby George from Indiana State University, will perform Claude T. Smith's setting of Eternal Father, Strong to Save, Joseph Schwantner's New Morning for the World: Daybreak of Freedom, and Karel Husa's Music for Prague 1968.

CSU Symphonic Wind Ensemble

Lost Gulch Lookout

Kristin Kuster (née Peterson, 1973, Raleigh, N.C.) is an American composer and educator. Ms. Kuster grew up in Boulder, Colorado. She earned her doctorate from the University of Michigan, where she studied with William Bolcom, Michael Daugherty, Evan Chambers, and William Albright, and where she now serves as associate professor of Composition.

Dr. Kuster has many honors and commissions to her credit. Her music has received support from such organizations as the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Argosy Foundation, the American Composers Forum, the Jack L. Adams Foundation, the American Composers Orchestra, and the Composers Conference at Wellesley College. She has received commissions from ensembles such as the Plymouth Symphony Orchestra, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, the New York Central City Chorus, the PRISM Saxophone Quartet, 45th Parallel, Vox Early Music Ensemble, conductor John Lynch and the University of Georgia Wind Ensemble, soprano Alissa Rose, and a consortium of university wind ensembles organized by University of Michigan conductor Michael Haithcock.

Lost Gulch Lookout, commissioned by John Lynch and The University of Georgia Wind Ensemble, reflects the craggy and colorful landscape of Kuster’s Colorado birthplace through hauntingly beautiful sonorities and tense dissonances. Far from merely nostalgic, her forcefully lean and athletic writing style evokes the jagged nature of the raw terrain on the razor edge of civilization. The visceral, gritty nature of the very canyons themselves are, perhaps, nature’s response to the incessant imposition of humanity into the few remaining unspoiled areas of nature. Kuster says the following of her inspiration:

“This piece is really about expansiveness and rocks and the heaviness of rocks; and also sky and wispy clouds above the sky and us living amongst that and in that and the fear that I have of what we’re doing to our natural resources, but also the hope that we can remember how beautiful they are so that we might preserve them.”

Crossing Parallels

Kathryn Salfelder (b. 1987, Paterson, N.J.) is an American composer, conductor and pianist. She is the recipient of the ASCAP/CBDNA Frederick Fennell Prize, ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, Ithaca College Walter Beeler Memorial Composition Prize, and the United States Air Force Gabriel Award. Two wind band works, Cathedrals and Crossing Parallels are published by Boosey & Hawkes.

Dr. Saldelder resides in Cambridge, Mass. and teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she serves as lecturer in music theory. In her spare time, she can be found realizing figured bass lines and dabbling at the organ.
About Crossing Parallels, Salfelder wrote:

“Another program note? These “composer-to-audience” soliloquies have provoked recent discussion in the new music scene at Yale, in composition seminars, at concerts, in conversations with my colleagues, and even online at Content, length, aesthetic, personal appeal to a broad audience, and the use of technical musical jargon have all been topics of debate. Does one provide a textual road map to the sound? Impart programmatic, intervallic, and textural details? Speak of one’s inspiration? The only consensus lies in this: the composer should share factors he or she believes important to understanding the structure and meaning of his or her new work.

Yet how does one impart structure and meaning to such a provocative phrase as “Crossing Parallels”? These seemingly contradictory words are almost irreconcilable. I propose two solutions: the intervals within Crossing Parallels are dictated by both Renaissance and Baroque gestures as well as serial and hexachord rows. There are echoes of John Dowland’s Lacrymae Flow my Tears (c. 1600), glimpses of 18th-century fugal techniques, and fragments of 20th and 21st century notions of set theory and harmony. Though spanning four centuries, these varied practices often result in similar or identical melodies and pitch material.”

The second solution is described in the notes:

two divergent planes naively self-sufficient
a succession of variations
vying for supremacy
interrupt, overlap, mimic
an intrinsic struggle
until the discovery
the very last moment
it is inevitable
they are too deeply intertwined

A Symphony of Fables

Julie Ann Giroux (pronounced Ji-ROO (as in "Google," not Ji-ROW, as in "row your boat") (b. 12 December 1961, in Fairhaven, Massachusetts) is an American composer of orchestral, choral, chamber, and numerous concert band works. She is a three-time Emmy Award nominee and in 1992 won an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music Direction. Ms. Giroux has an extensive list of published works for Concert Band and Wind Ensembles. She received her formal education at Louisiana State University and Boston University. She also studied composition with John Williams, Bill Conti, and Jerry Goldsmith.

Commissioned by the United States Air Force Band of Flight, Julie Giroux’s Symphony of Fables is a programmatic, five-movement symphony that musically captures the fascinating stories of five well-known fables. The composer has intentionally employed what she labeled an “old school” style -- music she would have heard at the movies when she was young. Giroux has further commented that she wanted this music to stand as an “emotionally serious and highly programmatic work.”
The “morals” of the fables may make the best points of emphasis in one respect, but the musical depictions of the roaring lion and grateful mouse, Hamelin’s rats and lost children, the nap and the later-panicked rabbit, the beautiful swan, and the rejoicing billy goats are equally evocative! Says Giroux, “The total purpose of this music is to make the audience and performers ... experience the wonders of a childhood story heard for the very first time through the magic of music.”

Cleveland Winds

The Cleveland Winds is happy to bring Dr. Roby George from Indiana State University to the stage with us. Dr. George will conduct Eternal Father, Strong to Save and perform as the narrator on New Morning for the World.

Eternal Father, Strong to Save

Rich in harmony, dynamics, and thematic interplay, Claude T Smith’s setting of Eternal Father, Strong to Save is based on the missionary hymn of the same name composed in 1860 by William Whiting (1825-1878), which was adopted as the official hymn of the U.S. Navy. This work opens with a brilliant fanfare. The melody of the hymn then appears in a fugue developed by the woodwinds. The brass echo the fugue until the melody once again appears played by the choir of French horns. The ensemble joins in for a finale reminiscent of the introductory fanfare.

New Morning for the World: Daybreak of Freedom

Joseph Schwantner (b. 22 March 1943, Chicago, Illinois) is an American composer and educator. His first musical instrument was the guitar, which he began studying with Robert Stein at the age of eight. Schwantner credits Stein as the most important influence of his young musical life. Of his initial experiences on the guitar, Schwantner writes:

"I didn’t realize until many years later just how important the guitar was in my get to the bottom line, when I think about my music, its absolutely clear to me the profound influence of the guitar in my music. When you look at my pieces, first of all is the preoccupation with color. The guitar is a wonderfully resonant and colorful instrument. Secondly, the guitar is a very highly articulate instrument. You don’t bow it, you pluck it and so the notes are very incisive. My musical ideas, the world I seem to inhabit, is highly articulate. Lots of percussion where everything is sharply etched, and then finally, those sharply articulated ideas often hang in the air, which is exactly what happens when you play an E major chord on the guitar. There are these sharp articulations, and then this kind of sustained resonance that you can easily do in percussion - a favorite trick of mine! I think it is right in my bone marrow. I don’t think there is any question about that. I think my music would look different if I were a clarinet player. So it doesn’t mean I sit around thinking about the guitar when I am writing a piece. Not at all! There is something fundamental about how I think about music, that I think comes from my experiences as a young kid trying to play everything I could on the instrument."

New Morning for the World: Daybreak of Freedom is Joseph Schwantner’s tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The idea of a work honoring Dr. King was first suggested to Schwantner in 1981 by Robert Freeman, Director of the Eastman School of Music. Schwantner writes:

“I was excited by the opportunity to engage my work with the profound and deeply felt words of Dr. King, a man of great dignity and courage whom I had long admired. The words that I selected for the narration were garnered from a variety of Dr. King’s writings, addresses, and speeches, and drawn from a period of more than a decade of his life. These words, eloquently expressed by the thrust of his oratory, bear witness to the power and nobility of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ideas, principles, and beliefs. This work of celebration is humbly dedicated to his memory.”

New Morning for the World was composed under a commission from the American Telephone and Telegraph Company for an East Coast tour undertaken by the Eastman Philharmonia. The orchestra first performed the work on 15 January 1983, in the Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington, D.C., and was narrated by the renowned Pittsburgh Pirates baseball star Willie Stargell. Following the premiere performance, the work was subsequently introduced in Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, and Rochester, N.Y.

The work has received hundreds of performances by major orchestras throughout the United States and has been narrated by such noted individuals as: Coretta Scott King, Yolanda King, James Earl Jones, Maya Angelou, Danny Glover, Robert Guillaume, Alfre Woodard, and Vernon Jordan. The version for wind ensemble was premiered on 20 April 2007 by the Florida State University Wind Orchestra in Tallahassee, Florida, Nikk Pilato conducting.

- Program Note by Nikk Pilato

Music for Prague 1968

Karel Husa (7 August 1921 in Prague - 14 December 2016, Apex, N.C.) was a Czech-American composer. Husa's father was in the shoe business, and Karel's family had hoped he would pursue a career in engineering. It was only at the urging of his mother that he added the study of violin and piano to his engineering courses. With the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, the engineering school he attended was closed, and he attempted unsuccessfully to enroll in an art school as a painter. His technical background eliminated him from all but the Prague Conservatory, where he secured the only opening in the composition department. Prior to this time, he had had no formal music training with the exception of his early violin and piano lessons. At the conservatory, he studied with Czech composer Jaroslav Ridky.

Following World War II, Husa completed his studies through the equivalent of a master's degree and left Prague to attend the Ecole Normale de Paris. There he studied composition with Arthur Honegger and Nadia Boulanger, and studied conducting with Jean Fournet and Andre Cluytens. The Academy of Musical Arts in Prague accepted the studies he had done in Paris and awarded him a Doctorate of Music in 1947.

Music for Prague 1968 was commissioned by the Ithaca College Concert Band. It was premiered by the commissioning ensemble in Washington, D.C., on 31 January 1969, Dr. Kenneth Snapp, conductor, at a concert for the Music Educators National Conference. Three main ideas bind the composition together. The first and most important is an old Hussite war song from the 15th century, "Ye Warriors of God and His Law," a symbol of resistance and hope for hundreds of years, whenever fate lay heavy on the Czech nation. It has been utilized by many Czech composers, including Smetana in My Country. The beginning of this religious song is announced very softly in the first movement by the timpani and concludes in a strong unison (Chorale). The song is never used in its entirety.

The second idea is the sound of bells throughout; Prague, named also The City of "Hundreds of Towers," has used its magnificently sounding church bells as calls of distress as well as of victory.

The last idea is a motif of three chords first appearing very softly under the piccolo solo at the beginning of the piece, in flutes, clarinets, and horns. Later it reappears at extremely strong dynamic levels, for example, in the middle of the Aria.

Different techniques of composing as well as orchestrating have been used in Music for Prague 1968 and some new sounds explored, such as the percussion section in the Interlude, the ending of the work, etc. Much symbolism also appears: in addition to the distress calls in the first movement (Fanfares), the unbroken hope of the Hussite song, sound of bells, or the tragedy (Aria), there is also the bird call at the beginning (piccolo solo), symbol of liberty which the City of Prague has seen only for a few moments during its thousand years of existence.

- Program Notes by Karel Husa

Dr. Roby George

Roby G. George is Associate Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Indiana State University where he conducts the Wind Symphony, teaches conducting at both the undergraduate and graduate level and coordinates all facets of the University band program at ISU.

Prior to his appointment at ISU, he held positions as Assistant Director of Bands at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Director of Bands at Fisk University, the University of Dayton, New World School of the Arts, and Florida International University. A native of Miami, Florida, George earned the bachelors and masters degrees in music education from Florida State University and the Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music.

High school, youth orchestra, university, and professional ensembles under George’s direction have given performances for the Florida Music Educators National Conference, the National Band Association, the CBDNA Southern Regional Conference, the Mid West Band Clinic and the CBDNA National Conference. As a guest conductor and clinician, George has worked with a myriad of high school honor bands, numerous college and university bands, All-State bands, and has given workshops on various subjects, ranging from rehearsal techniques, conducting pedagogy, and to jazz and Stravinsky.

During his tenure at Florida International University and based in Miami, he created a conducting symposium that attracted participants from all over the Americas and established a connection between the professional military conductor and the college wind conductor through his association with the United States Marines Corp. His reputation as a fine communicator of the art form from the podium is well-established.

He is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Music Educators National Conference, the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, and the College Band Directors National Association, having served 9 years as the Florida collegiate liaison to the CBDNA.