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inspired by the finale to Respighi’s Pines of Rome with an ending just as epic.

Technical considerations include some extended playing ranges (1st trumpet to high D), independent parts, complex rhythms and polymeters, extensive percussion, brief use of aleatory technique, and ensemble endurance. The work is peppered with solo opportunities for flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, and horn with generous cross-cueing to assist ensembles without one or more of those soloists.

Evocatio is a mystical, mature, and powerful work. Its ominous harmonies are resolved in the final bars which turn triumphant in a fury of sound, enthralling both students and audience alike. Disclaimer: do not read this with your ensemble unless you intend to perform it; they might revolt! It is scored for piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two bassoons, three clarinets, bass and contra clarinets, two alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones, three trumpets, four horns, three trombones, euphonium, tuba, timpani, vibraphone, xylophone, marimba, crotales, chimes, and extensive battery and auxiliary percussion. The nearly nine minute work is available from FJH Music for $95.00.

In Stillness, Brian Hogg

Australian composer, Brian Hogg, is best known to the American wind band repertoire for his popular Llwyn Onn, a lush setting of The Ash Grove, found on many state repertoire lists, including Alabama’s (CC). His lesser-known original work, In Stillness (also Grade 4), enjoys a similarly serene setting with plenty of opportunity to teach and perform with expression, phrasing, and sensitivity. The music takes its title and mood from a quote by Ken Duncan: “In stillness we begin to see our true reflection.”

Finding stillness in life (and music) is difficult, requiring a quiet patience and a commitment to calm self-awareness. Marked at a painstaking quarter note equals 40, In Stillness is poignantly crafted in such a way that both the inner peace and exhilaration of “stillness” are tangible and accessible to the performers, when approached with careful sincerity. In his rehearsal notes, the composer warns, “At the risk of sounding blatantly obvious, In

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Stillness is slow!”, adding that it is, “a simple tune that should unfold quite naturally.” Herein lies the real challenge for the performers: maintaining a steadily slow tempo while supporting breath, intonation, dynamics, and phrasing throughout.

In addition to its intensely slow pace, the work explores the key areas of C major and A-flat major, respectively - a nice change for chorale settings at the medium difficulty level which often hover in the B-flat, E-flat, and F major tonalities. The slow tempo, comfortable tessituras, and serene quality of the work allows performers to hone ensemble intonation, balance, and blend while strengthening individual breath support and embouchure endurance. It is worth noting that, smartly, Hogg contains nearly the entire work to the staff or just barely above for every player - negating extreme range considerations and promoting comfortable tessituras for all. Notable exceptions are few: the first trumpet part does extend to high B-flat at the climax, and the trombone and euphonium parts have two leaps to high A-flat, also near the climax.

Finally, what makes In Stillness both stunning and rewarding for musicians at every level is its beautiful melodic content, which is shared generously across the score with an equally moving counter-line building to a dynamic climax three-quarters of the way through the thirty-six bar piece. Percussion, too, are thoughtfully employed throughout the work, also a notable departure for typical chorale settings, which tend to use unimaginative percussion for impact moments only. In short, In Stillness, is a joy to rehearse and perform. Beautiful and provoking, it pairs nicely with Grainger for an “Australian set” or stands on its own for a reflective and moving component to any program.

In Stillness is scored for flute, oboe, two bassoons, three clarinets, bass clarinet, two alto saxophones, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, three trumpets, two horns, three trombones, two tubas, chimes, bass drum, percussion, and timpani. The work is about 3:15 in duration, is published by Brolga Music, and is available from J.W. Pepper for $100.00.

Passacaglia from Cantata No. 12 by J.S. Bach, arr. Larry Daehn

Another work which has not yet made it to the ABA Music List but is certainly worthy of performance for young bands is Larry Daehn’s adaptation of the Passacaglia from Cantata No. 12 by J.S. Bach. Classical transcriptions often do not work well for young bands, but this one, expertly set by the venerable composer and arranger Larry Daehn, is a gem deserving of more play for both its quality of transcription and its rich opportunities to teach musical style and history. It is safely scored, providing for a full, confident sound from the ensemble; yet it is able to explore a variety of registrations and soundscapes in each ensuing repetition of the basso ostinato. Moreover, the work introduces the “passacaglia” concept, a musical invention of the baroque period, often used interchangeably with “chaconne,” which is used most famously in the wind band repertoire as the framework for Holst’s First Suite in E-flat, first movement. Similarly, this Passacaglia is set in E-flat major, although its tonal center is really F- minor, requiring a consistent use of accidentals throughout.

Other technical considerations include frequent descending leaps for brass, requiring flexibility and pitch accuracy, especially among young players. Additionally, the inner clarinet and trumpet parts are occasionally unique to the section, requiring some independence in playing and counting. Overall, the passacaglia nature of the work makes it an excellent selection for teaching style, phrasing and balance in a lyrical setting. The work is about a grade 2.5 - 3, scored modestly for flute, oboe, three clarinets, bass clarinet, bassoon, two alto saxophones, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, three trumpets, two horns, two trombones, euphonium, tuba, and three timpani. The 57-measure, two and a half minute work is available from Daehn Publications for $72.00.

C. David Ragsdale is Associate Professor and Chair of the

Department of Music at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.


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