Angels in the Architecture was commissioned by Kingsway International and received its premiere performance at the Sydney Opera House on July 6, 2008, by a massed band of young musicians from Australia and the United States, conducted by Mathew George. The work unfolds as a dramatic conflict between the two extremes of human existence -- one divine, the other evil. The work's title is inspired by the Sydney Opera House itself, with its halo-shaped acoustical ornaments hanging directly above the performance stage.
Angels in the Architecture begins with a single voice singing a 19th-century Shaker song:
I am an angel of Light
I have soared from above
I am cloth'd with Mother's love.
I have come, I have come.
To protect my chosen band
And lead them to the promised land.
This "angel" -- represented by the singer -- frames the work, surrounding it with a protective wall of light and establishing the divine. Other representations of light, played by instruments rather than sung, include a traditional Hebrew song of peace ("Hevenu Shalom Aleichem") and the well-known 16th-century Genevan Psalter, Old Hundredth. These three borrowed songs, despite their varied religious origins, are meant to transcend any one religion, representing the more universal human ideals of peace, hope, and love. An original chorale, appearing twice in the work, represents the composer’s own personal expression of these aspirations.
Just as Charles Ives did more than a century ago, Angels in the Architecture poses the unanswered question of existence. It ends as it began: the angel reappears sings the same comforting words. But deep below, a final shadow reappears -- distantly, ominously.
Novorossiysk Chimes (also known as The Flame of Eternal Glory or The Fire of Eternal Glory), Op. 111b, was written by Dmitri Shostakovich in 1960 for the war memorial in the city of Novorossiysk. The piece consists, mainly, of material Shostakovich had originally written in 1943 as an entry in a contest to compose a new national anthem for the U.S.S.R..
Novorossiysk Chimes has been playing nonstop at Heroes Square in Novorossiysk since its opening on September 27, 1960. The song's opening phrases have also been used as introductory music for Moscow Radio's late-night news program CKACWH.
Amparito Roca is the name of a piece of music composed in 1925 by Spanish musician and composer Jaime Teixidor (1884–1957) who named it after one of his piano students, then 12-year-old Amparito Roca (1905–1977). It was first performed in September 1925 in the theater El Siglo in the town of Carlet where the composer lived at the time. It is a pasodoble and one of the better known pieces of Spanish music around the world. The score was published in Madrid later in 1925 by Música Moderna, and then in Barcelona by Joaquín Mora in 1928. Boosey & Hawkes published this in 1935 in an arrangement by Aubrey Winter (1870–1955).
The Divine Comedy Symphony is Robert W. Smith’s first complete symphonic band symphony. It was based on Dante's epic, The Divine Comedy. Smith had studied this, and Homer’s Odyssey, at Troy. The classical symphony consists of four movements – each following a distinct pattern.
Mvt I: The Inferno was commissioned by the James Madison University Band, and was completely published in 1995. The movement follows the events of the epic poem, using musical references to the events in select cantos of Inferno. An Oboe solo in B-flat minor begins the symphony,then, Enormous crescendos, violent percussion, and towering blocks of sound quickly lead the audience into Dante’s vision. A furious ostinato is used three times in this piece, first by flutes, then clarinets, and finally by the saxophones. In typical overture form, the song slows down as Dante makes his way down in the very depths.
Mvt II: Purgatorio was also commissioned by the James Madison University Band and published in 1997, Purgatorio continues Dante's epic through expressive solos and percussion rhythms. The piece is separated into three main parts: a lilting, dragging theme accented by soprano saxophone and flute solos, the Earthquake (which encompasses most of the piece), and the return of the original melody. Vocalizations occur frequently during this piece, first with certain players "moaning in pain" as they drag heavy loads, then with the chants of "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" during the Earthquake, and finally with singing. . The soprano saxophone is the featured instrument in the piece, playing notable solos that usually herald transitions between parts; this instrument leads the band all the way to the end of the piece, as the souls' footsteps gradually fade into the distance.
Mvt III: The Ascension was commissioned by the George Mason University Band and represents Dante's ascension into heaven. The piece follows typical overture form, starting out with Dante looking up to the stars atop Mount Purgatory. A swift horn motif starts Dante's ascension, moving faster than thought. Technically difficult woodwind runs add to the speed of Dante's ascension, as well as loud, dissonant trombone glissandos. The middle of the piece slows down, where the band sings accompanied by bowed vibraphone. The opening theme of the movement is repeated in the woodwinds, while the remainder of the band sings "alleluia." After a short horn solo, the music of the gods and of heaven builds to a climax with a trumpet solo, which is then expanded on by the rest of the band. The piece then speeds up again with the same horn motif, finishing with a climactic and dramatic crescendo to the final note, as Dante finally arrives in Heaven.
Mvt IV: Paradiso is the final movement of the symphony and is a piece filled with emotion and powerful music. The piece uses an extended mallet percussion section to introduce itself, before handing the melody over to the horns in four-part harmony. The mallet percussion cuts off where the timpani begins. The theme from the beginning of "The Ascension" serves as the theme for the final half of the piece. After a modulation, the music rises dramatically into a final suspended note, as Dante finally "glimpses the face of God". A timpani solo accents the sustained note, and rolls into the full band's final, triumphant note.