About this Recording
8.572980 - Wind Band Music - HOLST, G. / GILBERTSON, M. / TICHELI, F. / MACKEY, J. (Rest) (Ohio State University Wind Symphony, Mikkelson)
English 

Rest: Music for Wind Band
Johann Sebastian Bach, arr Gustav Holst • Michael Gilbertson • Frank Ticheli • John Mackey

 

JS Bach (1685–1750): Fugue a la Gigue
(arr Gustav Holst, ed Jon Mitchell) (
Fugue in G major, BWV 577, arr 1928)

“In December of 1927, English composer Gustav Holst received a request from the British Broadcasting Corporation to compose a twelve-to-fifteen minute work in one movement for its military band. The work fulfilling that request would be Hammersmith, Op 52 (1930–31) but Holst, who had not written a note for military band since revising his own Second Suite in F for Military Band, Op 28, No 2 in 1922, wanted to do a “warm-up” first. He wrote to D. Millar Craig, director of programmes at BBC:

…If there is no immediate hurry, I would like to postpone writing this piece and first arrange one of Bach’s Organ Fugues for military band. I have had this at the back of my mind for many years.

The organ fugue to which Holst referred is the Fugue in G major [BWV 577] from Preludes, Fugues, Fantasias and Other Pieces in Book III of the Organ Works: Bachgesllschaft. Holst himself gave the title Bach’s Fugue à la Gigue to the work. For his work, which included both the publishing and broadcasting rights, Holst was paid 25 pounds (a far greater sum in 1928 than in 2005).

Holst completed his military band version in May of 1928 and on 22nd July of the same year he conducted it on a special BBC Wireless Military Band broadcast featuring his own works. An immediate hit, Bach’s Fugue à la Gigue received “record post” from listeners. Both the orchestral and military band versions were published in 1929.”

Jon Ceander Mitchell

Michael Gilbertson (b. 1987): Vigil (2007/2010)

I began composing Vigil for The Juilliard Orchestra during the summer of 2007. Much of the inspiration for this work was drawn from the Vespers services of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Vespers, a nighttime service of vigilance, inspired many native Russian composers (including Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky) to create extended choral works for the occasion. Although no material in Vigil was drawn from the music of the Russian Church, the dark reverence of the Vespers services provided a conceptual basis for this work, suggesting the expansive soundscape I have tried to create within it.

Vigil is nocturnal and lyrical in character, structured in a large arc form. The work begins with a largo section of extended melodies, suggesting the devotional chants of the Vespers. A sudden, rhythmically driven allegro section follows. The work reaches an ominous climax which dies down to reveal echoes of the melodies from the opening largo. The music fades, and two trumpets conclude the work with an unsettling peace.

Vigil is dedicated to my dear friend, Deidre Westphal, who was diagnosed with bone cancer as I began working on this piece, and who died shortly after its première in 2008, a few weeks before her 21st birthday. I am very grateful to Russel Mikkelson, conductor of The Ohio State University Wind Symphony, for making this transcription possible.

Michael Gilbertson

Frank Ticheli (b. 1958): Rest (2010)

Frank Ticheli writes: Created in 2010, Rest is a concert band adaptation of my choral work, There Will Be Rest, published by Hinshaw in 2000. It was commissioned by conductor Russel Mikkelson and family, in loving memory of his father, Elling Mikkelson (1932–2005). In making this version, I preserved almost everything from the original: the harmony, dynamics, even the original registration. I also endeavored to preserve carefully the fragile beauty and quiet dignity suggested by Sara Teasdale’s words

With the removal of the text in the band version, I felt free to enhance the music, most strikingly in the form of a sustained climactic statement of the main theme. This extended climax allows the band version to transcend the expressive boundaries of a straight note-for-note setting of the original. Thus, both versions are intimately tied and yet independent from one another, each possessing its own strengths and unique traits.

There will be rest, and sure stars shining
Over the roof-tops crowned with snow,
A reign of rest, serene forgetting,
The music of stillness holy and low.
I will make this world of my devising
Out of a dream in my lonely mind.
I shall find the crystal of peace,—above me
Stars I shall find.

Sara Teasdale (1884–1933)

Frank Ticheli: Symphony No 1
(arr Gary D. Green) (2001/2010)

Symphony No 1 was begun in the fall of 2000 in Pasadena, California, and completed the following summer at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Its four movements represent a kind of journey of the soul—from innocence, to introspection, to darkness, and finally to enlightenment. This concert band version was created in 2010 by Gary D. Green, Director of Bands at the University of Miami.

Before writing a note of music, I began jotting down a list of the kinds of sounds I wanted to evoke in the symphony. These jottings eventually evolved into a poem. Moving from themes of hope, to peace, to crisis, and finally to reconciliation, the poem’s four main stanzas correspond directly to the symphony’s four movements.

I want to hear the sounds of hope—
of big church bells and distant horns,
Sounds that wash away the wars
and arouse the human heart.
A sure harmony gliding over a sea of stillness.

I want to play the sounds of peace—
of sighing winds and rustling leaves,
Sounds that silence troubled thoughts
and calm the spirit’s raging storms.
A song of serenity from high atop an ancient hill.

But my harp is drowned by the sounds of children—
Naked, hungry, crying out.
Their dreams, windswept,
My faith, a time-worn rock,
My house of wisdom, a spider’s web.

I only know that I am longing…

And then…I catch a glimpse—
an ancient tree…a soaring bird,
Some eternal euphony
that dances upon the light.

And for one fleeting moment, I know…
I am the sound of hope,
the instrument of peace,
the song within the Song.

The first movement is an expression of hope. Vivid aural images of a spring morning—bell sounds, trumpet fanfares, bright harmonies, clear textures illuminate the movement and give it a youthful energy. Themes come and go quickly, suggesting a short attention span and childlike impatience.

The second movement, despite its strong melodic and harmonic connections to the first, is in many ways its alter-ego. Bright fanfares give way to greater lyricism. Childlike optimism yields to introspection. After a series of vast modulations and an orchestral swell, a lengthy period of calm follows. A repeated major chord hangs high, and becomes an immovable block that is quietly implacable to the pleadings of the solo bassoon. Vague recollections of the first movement appear like fleeting dreams.

The third movement represents a crisis of faith. The key of D minor is used as a symbol of darkness. This association also pays tribute to Mozart, who used the key only on rare occasions as a symbol of pessimism and struggle (e.g., the appearance of the stone guest in Don Giovanni, and the unfinished Requiem Mass). The main theme wedges upward and back again, as though dodging some menacing force. A contrasting middle section provides an uneasy moment of respite before surrendering to the return of the scherzo and its racing heartbeat.

The poem, sung in the last movement by solo tenor or high baritone, summarizes the dramatic flow of the entire symphony. The accompanying music searches in vain for resolution, wandering from one tonal area to another (D, C, F, A, B) before finally resigning itself in the poignant key of B minor. As an ironic gesture, the line, “naked, hungry, crying out”, is answered by a recollection of one of the brightest moments from movement 1, now darkened by its new B minor context. After a moment of vulnerability, the poem moves toward resolution, and the music brightens once again. Darkness yields to themes of transcendence as the singer discovers an inner light.

Frank Ticheli

John Mackey (b. 1972): Asphalt Cocktail (2009)

Several years ago, when I was living in Manhattan, I was walking down Columbus Avenue with my good friend (and fellow composer) Jonathan Newman. Somehow, the topic of titles for pieces came up, and Newman said a title that stopped me in my tracks there on the sidewalk: Asphalt Cocktail. I begged him to let me use the title. “That title screams Napoleonic Testosterone Music. I was born to write that!” I pleaded “No,” was his initial response. I asked regularly over the next few years, and the answer was always the same: “No It’s mine.” In May 2008, I asked him once again, begging more pathetically than I had before, and his answer this time surprised me: “Fine,” he said, “but I’ll be needing your first-born child.” This was easily agreeable to me, as I don’t like kids.

The resulting piece is Asphalt Cocktail, a five-minute opener, designed to shout from the opening measure, “We’re here.” With biting trombones, blaring trumpets, and percussion dominated by cross-rhythms and back beats, it aims to capture the grit and aggression that I associate with the time I lived in New York. Picture the scariest NYC taxi ride you can imagine, with the cab skidding around turns as trucks bear down from all sides. Serve on the rocks.”

John Mackey


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