WIND ENSEMBLE tuesday, october 5, 2021

a brighter light (2021)

Steven Bryant (b. 1972)

“His compositional virtuosity is evident in every bar.” – John Corigliano

Steven Bryant’s music is chiseled in its structure and intent, fusing lyricism, dissonance, silence, technology, and humor into lean, skillfully-crafted works that enthrall listeners and performers alike. Winner of the ABA Ostwald award and three-time winner of the NBA Revelli Award, Steven Bryant’s music for wind ensemble has reshaped the genre. A prolific composer, his substantial catalogue of music is regularly performed throughout the world. Recently, his Ecstatic Waters was premiered by the Minnesota Orchestra to unanimous, rapturous acclaim. The son of a professional trumpeter and music educator, he strongly values music education, and his creative output includes a number of works for young and developing musicians.

Bryant writes:

A Brighter Light is one of three short fanfares commissioned by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Music to celebrate their 100th anniversary (1921-2021). I felt the music for this one has something of an introspective, yearning quality to it, compared to the others, thus the hopeful title. I have a long and warm association with UNCG, including having taught music composition there, and wish the School of Music another successful 100 years of education and inspiration to all those who walk its halls.

A Brighter Light, along with the other two fanfares, Centennial Chimes and A Chorus Loud and Strong, are available at www.stevenbryant.com.

Note by Steven Bryant

blink (2006)

Joel Puckett (b. 1977)

Have you ever had a feeling that something good was about to happen? Perhaps just an inkling? Have you ever met someone and known instantly that you were going to become thick as thieves?

In the fall of 2005, I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink. Blink is a book about rapid cognition. The following is from Gladwell’s website:

"When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, 'Blink' is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good."

I found this concept inspiring and led to the writing of my work for wind band by the same name. My work features quick changes of both texture and tempo (blink!) while systematically exploring a single motive. The boisterous opening of the piece rigorously works this motive (in both transparent and opaque ways) and climaxes in giving way to a surprisingly quite and ethereal ending.

Blink was completed in January of 2006 for the Wind Ensembles of Shenandoah University and Abilene Christian University..

Note by Joel Puckett

Symphony in B-flat (1951)

Paul Hindemith (1895 - 1963)

The Symphony for Concert Band was composed at the request of Lt. Col. Hugh Curry, leader of the United States Army Band, and was premiered in Washington, D.C., on April 5, 1951, with the composer conducting. This three-movement work is the only symphony that Hindemith wrote expressly for the wind band. The suite shows Hindemith's great contrapunctal skill, and the organized logic of his thematic material. His melodies develop ever-expanding lines, and his skill in the organization and utilization of complex rhythmic variation adds spice and zest to the strength of his melodies.

Although Symphony in B-Flat features unique uses of dissonant chords and nonharmonic tones, it preserves neo-classical tonality, forms, and rhythmic and melodic patterns. Short figures are apt to form themselves into ostinatos to provide the background to broad and declamatory melodies; these melodies will often repeat characteristic phrases of awkward lengths so as to disturb the even flow of the basic rhythm. A slow section will alternate with a scherzando section, and the two will combine to form the third portion of a movement.

The first movement is in sonata allegro form in three sections, with the recapitulation economically utilizing both themes together in strong counterpoint. The second and third movements develop and expand their thematic material in some of the most memorable contrapunctal writing for winds. The second movement opens with an imitative duet between alto saxophone and cornet, accompanied by a repeated chord figure. The duet theme, along with thematic material from the opening movement, provides the basic material for the remainder of the movement. The closing section of the third movement utilizes the combined themes while the woodwinds amplify the incessant chattering of the first movement. The brass and percussion adamantly demand a halt with a powerful final cadence.

The Symphony in B-Flat rivals any orchestra composition in length, breadth, and content, and served to convince other first-rank composers -- including Vittorio Giannini, Vincent Persichetti, Paul Creston, and Alan Hovhaness -- that the band is a legitimate medium for serious music.

Note by Hubert Henderson and James Jorgenson, and from the SUNY Potsdam Crane Wind Ensemble

double play (2010)

Cindy McTee (b. 1953)

Commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in honor of Elaine Lebenbom, and premiered by the DSO and Leonard Slatkin, Double Play consists of two continuous movements, each of which can be performed separately.

I have always been particularly attracted to the idea that disparate musical elements - tonal and atonal, placid and frenetic - can not only coexist but also illuminate and complement one another. I can think of no composer more capable of achieving these kinds of meaningful juxtapositions than Charles Ives. As in Ives’ Unanswered Question, my Unquestioned Answer presents planes of highly contrasting materials: sustained, consonant sonorities in the strings intersect to create dissonances; melodies for the principal players soar atop; and discordant passages in the brass and winds become ever more disruptive. The five-note theme from Ives’ piece is heard in both its backward and forward versions throughout the work.

Tempus Fugit, Latin for "time flees" but more commonly translated as "time flies," is frequently used as an inscription on clocks. My Tempus Fugit begins with the sounds of several pendulum clocks ticking at different speeds and takes flight about two minutes later using a rhythm borrowed from Leonard Slatkin's Fin for orchestra. Jazz rhythms and harmonies, quickly-moving repetitive melodic ideas, and fragmented form echo the multifaceted and hurried aspects of 21st-century American society.

Note by Cindy McTee

Of Our New Day Begun (2015)

Omar Thomas (b. 1982)

Of Our New Day Begun was written to honor nine beautiful souls who lost their lives to a callous act of hatred and domestic terrorism on the evening of June 17, 2015 while worshipping in their beloved sanctuary, the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (affectionately referred to as “Mother Emanuel”) in Charleston, South Carolina. My greatest challenge in creating this work was walking the line between reverence for the victims and their families, and honoring my strong, bitter feelings towards both the perpetrator and the segments of our society that continue to create people like him. I realized that the most powerful musical expression I could offer incorporated elements from both sides of that line - embracing my pain and anger while being moved by the displays of grace and forgiveness demonstrated by the victims’ families.

Historically, black Americans have, in great number, turned to the church to find refuge and grounding in the most trying of times. Thus, the musical themes and ideas for Of Our New Day Begun are rooted in the Black American church tradition. The piece is anchored by James and John Johnson’s time-honored song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (known endearingly as the “Negro National Anthem”), and peppered with blues harmonies and melodies. Singing, stomping, and clapping are also prominent features of this work, as they have always been a mainstay of black music traditions, and the inclusion of the tambourine in these sections is a direct nod to black worship services.

Of Our New Day Begun begins with a unison statement of a melodic cell from “Lift Every Voice….” before suddenly giving way to ghostly, bluesy chords in the horns and bassoons. This section moves to a dolorous and bitter dirge presentation of the anthem in irregularly shifting 12/8 and 6/8 meter, which grows in intensity as it offers fleeting glimmers of hope and relief answered by cries of blues-inspired licks. A maddening, ostinato-driven section representing a frustration and weariness that words cannot, grows into a group singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” fueled by the stomping and clapping reminiscent of the black church.

In the latter half of the piece the music turns hopeful, settling into 9/8 time and modulating up a step during its ascent to a glorious statement of the final lines of “Lift Every Voice….” in 4/4, honoring the powerful display of humanity set forth by the families of the victims. There is a long and emotional decrescendo that lands on a pensive and cathartic gospel-inspired hymnsong. Returning to 9/8 time, the piece comes to rest on a unison F that grows from a very distant hum to a thunderous roar, driven forward by march-like stomping to represent the ceaseless marching of black Americans towards equality.

The consortium assembled to create this work is led by Dr. Gary Schallert and the Western Kentucky University Wind Ensemble.

​Note by Omar Thomas

Kevin M. Geraldi

Dr. Kevin M. Geraldi is Director of Instrumental Ensembles and Professor of Conducting at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he conducts the UNCG Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Casella Sinfonietta, and teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting. With UNCG ensembles, he has performed in Dvořák Hall in Prague, Czech Republic, the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, MD, at the national CBDNA conventions in Austin, TX, and Greensboro, NC, and at the American Bandmasters Association convention in Norfolk, VA. Previously, he taught at Lander University in Greenwood, SC and in the public schools of Westchester, IL, and was assistant conductor of the Central Illinois and Michigan Youth Symphonies.

Dr. Geraldi appears regularly as a guest conductor and he maintains an active schedule as a clinician and adjudicator throughout the country. Committed to promoting contemporary art music, he has commissioned and premiered numerous compositions and collaborated with composers including Philip Glass, Christopher Theofanidis, Joel Puckett, Steven Bryant, Carter Pann, and John Mackey. He has collaborated with artists including Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Lynn Harrell, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, and Lindsay Kesselman. He has published several articles in leading scholarly journals on topics that reflect his interest in the history and performance practice of chamber music for winds, brass, and strings. His recordings with the Minerva Chamber Ensemble, Casella Sinfonietta, and UNCG Wind Ensemble are available on the Equilibrium and Centaur Records labels.

A devoted advocate for music education, Dr. Geraldi conducts dozens of clinics annually with high school orchestras and bands and honors ensembles throughout the country, presents frequently at music education conferences, and has published articles for music educators on concert programming and effective rehearsal strategies.

Dr. Geraldi holds the Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees in conducting from the University of Michigan, where he studied with H. Robert Reynolds and Michael Haithcock, and the Bachelor of Music Education degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, where he studied with Steven Eggleston. His other conducting teachers include Gustav Meier, Kenneth Kiesler, Daniel Hege, and Rossen Milanov. He has also participated as a conducting fellow in workshops with Pierre Boulez, Paul Vermel, William Henry Curry, and Frederick Fennell. Dr. Geraldi is a recipient of the Thelma A. Robinson Award, presented by the Conductors Guild and the National Federation of Music Clubs, and the Outstanding Teaching Award in the UNCG School of Music. He is a member of the American Bandmasters Association, the Conductors Guild, the College Orchestra Directors Association, the College Band Directors National Association, the National Association for Music Education, Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and is a National Arts Associate of Sigma Alpha Iota.

Jonathan Caldwell

Dr. Jonathan Caldwell is assistant director of instrumental ensembles and assistant professor of conducting at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he conducts the Symphonic Band, teaches undergraduate and graduate conducting, and is associate conductor of the UNCG Wind Ensemble. Prior to his appointment at UNCG, Caldwell held positions at Virginia Tech, the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, and Garner Magnet High School (Raleigh, NC).

Ensembles under Caldwell’s guidance have performed at the College Band Directors National Association Southern Division Conference, the National Band Association–Wisconsin Chapter Convention, and in Carnegie Hall. His writings have been published in the Journal of Band Research and the Teaching Music Through Performance in Band series. He has given presentations at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, national CBDNA conferences, and the Virginia Music Educators Association Conference.

Caldwell received a Doctor of Musical Arts in conducting from the University of Michigan and a Master of Music in instrumental conducting from the University of Maryland, College Park. He holds a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Bachelor of Music in performance from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Caldwell’s conducting teachers include Michael Haithcock, Michael Votta, Jerry Schwiebert, James Ross, and Tonu Kalam.

Caldwell currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Conductors Guild. He is a member of the College Band Directors National Association, the National Band Association, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (Alpha Rho), Tau Beta Sigma (Beta Eta), Phi Beta Kappa, and Phi Kappa Phi.