Program Notes for OMEA Performance, Feb. 4, 2017

Find out more about the Cleveland Winds and our Music Director.

Through the Looking Glass - Jess Langston Turner

Through the Looking Glass is composed to be a concert opener, bringing the audience into the musical world created by the concert they are about to hear. In this way, this piece acts in a similar manner to the looking glass through which Alice was able to gain access to her wonderland. The entire three minutes of the piece consists of only five different pitches which are constantly reconfigured into running passages, ostinati, and thrilling fanfares.

  • Note by Jess Langston Turner

Instinctive Travels - Michael Markowski

Michael Markowski burst onto the concert band scene in 2006 with his breakthrough composition, Shadow Rituals — the unanimous winner of the First Frank Ticheli Composition Contest (sponsored by Manhattan Beach Music). Three years later, Markowski returns full force with his most recent band work, Instinctive Travels — a seven-minute musical excursion. is brisk and bustling escapade will propel an audience through defibrillating rhythms, indulgent mood swings, and a kaleidoscope of instrumental colors.

He is an active participant in the many various performing and creative arts. With ongoing dalliances into acting, screenwriting, cinematography, as well as literary writing and graphic design, Markowski is well-versed in multiple forms of communication. And so it is no surprise to discover captivating storytelling in his musical compositions. Instinctive Travels evokes joyful euphoria, excitable anticipation, laughter and giddiness, and heroic exhilaration.

Markowski’s musical compositions resonate with today’s audiences because of the cross-generational influences that have shaped this young composer’s mind. He can combine the wittiness of a Gilbert & Sullivan patter song with the insightful social justice message of hip hop; he can meld a Broadway torch song with the smack of a viral video’s irreverent criticism. With a knack for performing (theater, cinema, literature, music), Michael Markowski is a communicator. Better yet, Michael Markowski is a new-generation raconteur.

You just might hear a hint of John Adams, Frank Ticheli, or John Mackey in Markowski’s music. But don’t discount the likely influences of A Tribe Called Quest, Judy Garland, or perhaps even Max Weinberg, as well. While along for the ride, Instinctive Travels might just intersect with any and all of these perennial performers! But Markowski is his own composer in every right. Instinctive Travels journeys into the exciting and inventive mind of Michael Markowski — a protocomposer for the next generation of excursionist band music.

  • Program note from the score written by Lawrence Stoffel, D.Mus. Director of Bands California State University, Northridge.

Trio from Act III, Der Rosenkavalier - Richard Strauss/arr. Jimmie Reynolds

The opera Der Rosenkavlier by Richard Strauss was first performed in Dresden in 1911. The book or libretto is by Hugo von Hofmansthal. The story of the opera is far too complex for this limited space, the trio from Act III is, in itself, a magnificent example of the genius of the Strauss/Hofmansthal collaboration. To Strauss's rich orchestration, it is sung by Sophie, a pretty young woman. Almost all of the vocal lines are contained in Strauss' original orchestration and faithfully retained in this transcription.

In brief, this music describes, as only music can, the relationship between Octavian, Sophie, and the Countess. Octavian has enjoyed a long relationship with the Countess, but he, after meeting Sophie, has discovered his true love. While Sophie and Octavian sing of their new found happiness, the Countess remembers the tender moments of the past, is grateful for them, but recognizes the need to let Octavian and Sophie go the way of youth. Sophie, absorbed in her love for Octavian, and the Countess, realizing that she is indeed growing older, seem for a brief moment to recognize, because of their love for Octavian, a bond between themselves, an understanding transcending the emotions of the moment.

Both the eight-bar introduction and code following the oboe solo are derived from notes contained in the principal motive of the opera.

Jimmie Howard Reynolds was Director of Bands and Head of the department of Music at Louisiana Tech University from 1962 until 1972, and Director of Bands at Iowa State University until 1980.

  • Program note from the score.

Blue Shades - Frank Ticheli

"Four years, and several compositions later, I finally took the opportunity to realize that need by composing Blue Shades. As its title suggests, the work alludes to the Blues, and a jazz feeling is prevalent -- however, it is in not literally a Blues piece. There is not a single 12-bar blues progression to be found, and except for a few isolated sections, the eighth-note is not swung.

"The work, however, is heavily influenced by the Blues: "Blue notes" (flatted 3rds, 5ths, and 7ths) are used constantly; Blues harmonies, rhythms, and melodic idioms pervade the work; and many "shades of blue" are depicted, from bright blue, to dark, to dirty, to hot blue.

"At times, Blue Shades burlesques some of the clichés from the Big Band era, not as a mockery of those conventions, but as a tribute. A slow and quiet middle section recalls the atmosphere of a dark, smoky blues haunt. An extended clarinet solo played near the end recalls Benny Goodman's hot playing style, and ushers in a series of "wailing" brass chords recalling the train whistle effects commonly used during that era."

Blue Shades was commissioned by a consortium of thirty university, community, and high school concert bands under the auspices of the Worldwide Concurrent Premieres and Commissioning Fund.

  • Program Note by Frank Ticheli

The Fairest of the Fair - John Philip Sousa

The Fairest of the Fair is generally regarded as one of Sousa’s finest and most melodic marches, and its inspirations came from the sight of a pretty girl with whom he was not even acquainted. It was an immediate success and has remained one of his most popular compositions. It stands out as one of the finest examples of the application of pleasing melodies to the restrictive framework of a military march.

The Boston Food Fair was an annual exposition and music jubilee held by the Boston Retail Grocers’ Association. The Sousa Band was the main musical attraction for several seasons, so the creation of a new march honoring the sponsors of the 1908 Boston Food Fair was the natural outgrowth of a pleasant business relationship. In fairs before 1908, Sousa had been impressed by the beauty and charm of one particular young lady who was the center of attention of the displays in which she was employed. He made a mental note that he would someday transfer his impressions of her into music. When the invitation came for the Sousa Band to play a twenty-day engagement in 1908, he wrote this march. Remembering the comely girl, he entitled the new march The Fairest of the Fair.

Because of an oversight, the march almost missed its premiere. Nearly three months before the fair, Sousa had completed a sketch of the march for the publisher. He also wrote out a full conductor’s score from which the individual band parts were to have been extracted. The band had just finished an engagement the night before the fair’s opening and had boarded a sleeper train for Boston. Louis Morris, the band’s copyist, was helping the librarian sort music for the first concert, and he discovered that the most important piece on the program — The Fairest of the Fair — had not been prepared. According to Morris’s own story, the librarian, whose job it had been to prepare the parts, went into a panic. There was good reason; considerable advance publicity had been given to the new march, and the fair patrons would be expecting to hear it. In addition, the piano sheet music had already been published, and copies were to be distributed free to the first five hundred ladies entering the gates of the fair.

Morris rose to the occasion. He asked the porter of the train to bring a portable desk, which he placed on a pillow across his lap. He worked the entire night, and the parts were nearly finished when dawn broke. Both were greatly surprised by the appearance of Sousa, who had arisen to take his usual early morning walk. When asked about the frenzied activity, they had no choice but to tell exactly what had happened. There were many times in the life of John Philip Sousa when he demonstrated his benevolence and magnanimity, and this was surely one of them. After recognizing Morris’s extraordinary effort and remarking that it was saving the band from considerable embarrassment, he instructed him to complete his work and to take a well- deserved rest, even if it meant sleeping through the first concert. With no one the wiser, Louis Morris — hero of the day — was asleep in his hotel as Sousa’s Band played The Fairest of the Fair for the first time on September 28, 1908. Sousa did not mention the subject again, but Morris found an extra fifty dollars in his next pay envelope — the equivalent of two weeks' salary.

  • Program Note from John Philip Sousa: A Descriptive Catalog of His Works

Symphony on Themes of John Philip Sousa, Movement III: After Fairest of the Fair - Ira Hearshen

Dedicated to Lt. Col. Lowell E. Graham.

"Stirred and fascinated by the music of John Philip Sousa since childhood, I still get a chill upon hearing the piccolo obbligato in the trio of The Stars and Stripes Forever. While the thought of transforming popular march music into a legitimate piece for concert stage had a lot of intellectual appeal, I figured that any attempt I made to pay homage to Sousa would be misunderstood. But artistic challenge won out and I started working on what was to become the second movement of the symphony in the winter of 1990-1991.

"I began this piece by taking the "trio" theme of the march, The Thunderer, slowing it down to a tempo of 48 beats per minute and casting it in the style of the Finale of Mahler's Third Symphony. From the audience reaction to the first performance of (after) The Thunderer, I knew I was involved with something unusual in the realm of band music. The weight of the piece and its 8 minute time performance meant that the idea of a light concert suite of four to six movements as originally commissioned was out of the question. It was at this time, I realized that I had the beginning of a full-scale symphony in both length and depth.

"I began to envision this work as a four movement symphony classically constructed. It would have first movement written in "sonata-allegro" form, a slow movement, a scherzo, and a finale. Each of the four sections would be based on a different Sousa march and the outer movements must be at least twice as long as the internal two so that the work would have integrity of true symphonic form.

"There are two problems that had to be solved: each movement had to be playable as a separate piece, and there needed to be some unifying melodic material that could bring four different Sousa marches together. I found the solution in Sousa's scores. There was a four note melodic fragment common to virtually every tune I wanted to use, the same four notes that begin the "Dies Irae" portion of the Catholic Requiem Mass. The intervals are a minor second down, a minor second up, followed by a minor third down. In the key of C Major or A minor, these notes would be C-B-C-A. This melodic motive occurs in the trios of both Hands Across the Sea and Washington Post as well as in the introduction to Fairest of the Fair. In fact, these are the first four notes one hears in The Stars and Stripes Forever.

"I used this four-note Sousa "signature" to introduce and end the symphony, in the construction of the scherzo, and to create the finale. The coda of the last movement became extended as a prologue to the entire symphony preceding the first movement. Thus, the symphony became a cyclical work unified in its construction, with each movement playable as a separate entity. Sousa's melodies are all strong and of a wide variety of architectural styles. They range from complex (Hands Across the Sea), to simple (Washington Post), and are all stirring, intense, and above all, really fun to listen to. This is what makes Sousa's music "classic". I hope listeners have as much of an adventure listening to this as I did putting it together."

  • Program Note by Ira Hearshen