Program Notes, Oct.8th 2020

Senior Wind Ensemble

under the direction of Shane Monkman

Lindberg Variations by Robert Sheldon
Windjammer (Voyage Aboard a Tallship) by Robert Buckley
On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss by David Holsinger
Arabian Dances by Brian Balmages
Mt. Everest by Rossano Galante

Lindberg Variations was commissioned by and written for the Fletcher Jr High School Band in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Amnong the communities historical treasures exists a monument to Charles Lindberg’s child who was kidnapped from the Lindberg family home. Although Lindberg paid the ransom, his son was never recovered alive. This monument seems to have been the only permanent exposition of the world-wide sympathy in this national tragedy. Lindberg Variations opens with a playful melody in the clarinet. This melody serves as the focal point for the entire composition as we move from a slow, cantabile section, into a march and finally closing with the main melody played over top of the hymn ‘Jesus, Jesus Rest Your Head’.

Our second selection this evening is Windjammer (Voyage Aboard a Tall Ship)  by Robert Buckley. Robert Buckley is a composer and instrumentalist from Vancouver and has written music for many high profile music stars and television companies. He was also the composer for the music of the 2010 Winter Olympic opening ceremonies. Windjammer takes place in the gulf islands of the cost of BC. A solo trumpet melody is heard echoing all around us before the sails are raised.  The first theme is stated, depicting the awe and grandeur of the surrounding scenery. As the ship picks up speed the second theme is heard. The piece closes with both themes being played simultaneously and the echoes of the trumpets take us back into shore.

On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss was written for band by David Holsinger and is based on ‘It Is Well With My Soul’  a hymn composed by Philip Bliss, based on a poem by Horatio Spafford. Horatio Spafford, a Chicago  businessman, planned a European trip for his family in 1873. In November of that year, due to unexpected last-minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago; but he sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled aboard the S.S. Ville du Havre. He expected to follow in a few days. On November 22, the ship was struck by t another vessel, and sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the survivors were finally landed at Cardiff, Wales, and Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband, “Saved Alone.” Shortly afterward Spafford left by ship to join his bereaved wife. It is speculated that on the sea near the area where it was thought his four daughters had drowned, Spafford penned this text with words so significantly describing his own personal grief, “When sorrows like sea billows roll….” It is noteworthy, however, that Spafford does not dwell on the theme of life’s sorrows and trials, but focuses attention in the third stanza on the redemptive work of his faith. Humanly speaking, it is amazing that one could experience such personal tragedy and sorrow as did Horatio Spafford and still be able to say with such convincing clarity, “It is well with my soul…”.

Arabian Dances by Brian Balmages is based on 2 traditional Arabic melodies: the Ala Dal’ona a song that was originally a love ballad but has been written with new lyrics to reflect freedom and a voice for women’s rights. This theme is first presented in its most authentic form, just melody and hand percussion before being given a more contemporary, wind ensemble treatment. This gives way to a percussion break featuring a hand drum called the Darbuka. As you can see we have brought Tanner and Jackson forward to highlight the unique sounds of the Darbuka. The second theme is Tafta Hindi (A Cloth from India) is a song that tells of an Arabic marketplace where merchants are calling out to potential customers. Again this is first presented in its most authentic form, melody and percussion, before being taken over by the full wind ensemble.

We are going to close with Rossano Galante’s Mt Everest, a powerful work with robust melodies, sweeping woodwind lines and rhythmic ostinati designed to capture the epic grandeur and beauty of Everest, the highest mountain on earth.