Band Music Reviews

We are in the throes of organizing our annual Honor Band Festival here at UA this week. One of the most exciting things that happens during this time is that we order all of our clinicians’ music for the festival and get the folders prepared for the big weekend. I have always enjoyed looking at what our guest clinicians have selected for the bands to perform. I learn so much from listening to these great new (and some golden oldies) pieces. I have selected a couple of these pieces for this review. Observing honor band rehearsals is a fantastic way to become aware of new literature that is available, and to learn some fantastic “tips of the trade” that you can take home to your ensemble! Hopefully you may be able to find a new piece for your spring concert.

Only Light, Only Love by Leslie Gilreath is a beautiful new lyrical piece that features several solos and your percussion section. Based on a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the piece is an affirmation of an undying belief in light and love and the overwhelming need for both in our world today. Published by C. Alan Publications at the Grade 4 level and with a performance time of approximately 5:30, Only Light, Only Love is an excellent addition to this genre of music for our ensembles. The piece opens with manageable solos for flute, bassoon, clarinet, horn and oboe, along with keyboard percussion and piano. In addition to teaching opportunities for working on lyrical ensemble playing, the piece also provides numerous teaching moments for moving between quarter note and half note pulse. The students are also asked to move between duple and triple subdivision at a slower tempo. Only Light, Only Love provides a relevant message and technical challenges for our students. It would be a fantastic addition for your next concert.

Michael Markowski’s music is always fun for the audience members and it provides a challenge for the performers. His new work, Sunny-side Up, definitely lives up to these characteristics. It is a piece full of energy and anticipation. With an infectious groove and melodies that will entertain and educate, this piece will no doubt be a hit with your students and your audience members. Sunny-side Up is filled with rhythmic ostinato in wind and percussion sections and dotted-eighth sixteenth melodic lines accompanied by syncopated lines in upper voices. The piece also allows for those teaching moments that involve counts of silence and entering accurately after those moments of silence.

written at the Grade 3 level, but it is one of those compositions that sounds more difficult than it actually is. Sunny-side Up is a fun and educational piece to add to your

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Randall Coleman

spring concert program that I’m sure your students and audience members alike will enjoy.

One of the most performed composers today, Julie Giroux, has given us some amazing music over the past few years. Each new piece that Julie writes is some of the most significant music that we can offer our students. Her ability to challenge and touch the listener is unmatched. One of her newest pieces is a beautiful lyrical grade 3 work entitled Our Castaways. Our Castaways is a tribute to rescue animals, with her tribute in the score reading “For those who rescue, those who get rescued and especially those whose rescue never comes”. With its smooth and connected melodic and harmonic lines, Our Castaways is a work that should have a feeling of continuous, seamless voices, challenging the performers to pay attention to all dynamic and phrase markings. Written in Julie’s lush and warm style, Our Castaways will allow your students the opportunity to perform with attention to breathing, supported air and pitch control. The message of Our Castaways will engage your students and audience members. A moving tribute for your next performance, Julie Giroux’s Our Castaways is a welcome addition to the wind band repertoire.

I hope you have a wonderful spring semester, and as always, do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance to you or your students.

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Randall Coleman Wind Band Music Reviewer Associate Director of Bands The University of Alabama Music Director and Conductor The Alabama Winds


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