Band Music Reviews

I sometimes fall down the “rabbit hole” on the internet of reading the various quotes about life, loss, love and living…it’s sometimes difficult not to spend hours reading those quotes and thinking about how the various quotes impact your life. I ran across a quote not too long ago that was focused on how the past has impact on our future…it read something like this “Remember the stories of our past, they will help propel you into the future”.

Grundman uses very colorful scoring along with a very

interested This article is

traditionally focused on new wind band literature and we all know we have an enormous supply of new literature. It is incredible how much new music has been added to our repertoire over the past 5 years.

I’m “seasoned” enough to

remember waiting with great anticipation for the new music album/cassette tape/CD to be delivered by “snail mail” to my school each fall. When it arrived, I would spend hours listening to each piece over and over again. Required Music Lists were only updated every other year, at most…sometimes every 5 years…to put the newest literature on the state required list. Today, our world is quite different with new music and new composers making their marks very rapidly.


thought it might be appropriate to “remember the stories of our past” in this article as we close another school year, to remind us of those pieces that sometimes get forgotten in the masses of new music that we are inundated with today. I hope you will find something that you will want to program when the new school year opens.

Clare Grundman is one of our profession’s greatest treasures. His ability to score and arrange folksongs for our young bands is unparalleled.

I teach a

course at the University of Alabama on Grade 3, 4 and 5 wind band literature. I’m always amazed at the number of my graduate students who aren’t familiar with Grundman’s works and what a wonderful and pedagogically sound writer he was. One of his best-known pieces that isn’t heard as much as you would think is his grade 3 work Kentucky 1800. Published in 1955, Kentucky 1800 is a setting of three American folk songs, The Promised Land, I’m Sad and I’m Lonely and Cindy.

ala breve

accompaniment line to create a quality and educational musical experience for young band members. The piece exposes young musicians to both major and minor tonalities, along with dotted rhythms, and provides a somewhat healthy percussion score for music written during this time period. Kentucky 1800 is approximately 4 minutes in length and is a wonderful teaching tool for your grade 3 or 4 ensemble.

The music of Vincent Persichetti is certainly unique. Persichetti is one of the major figures in American music of the 20th


century, both as an educator and His music draws heavy

influence from the music of Stravinsky, Bartók, Hindemith and Copland, along with big band music. His own style was marked by the use of two element he refers to as “graceful” and “gritty”. He frequently uses polytonality in his writing and was one of the first composers to treat the percussion choir as an equal to the woodwind and brass choirs. Persichetti composed Pageant in 1953 and it was his third work for wind band. It is in two-part form, with the opening being at a slow tempo with solo horn playing a recurring three note theme, followed by a chorale section. The second part is quick and lively, which Persichetti likened to a parade. The second part is full of Persichetti’s characteristic stylings, including articulate counterpoint and contrasts of texture. Pageant is an excellent piece to introduce Persichetti’s compositional style to your high school band, as it is one of his most accessible pieces. The piece contains solos for horn, trumpet and piccolo and also contains exposed soli sections for all instruments. Written during the “golden age” of wind band literature, as the Eastman Wind Ensemble was founded and composers of international acclaim began writing for wind band, this piece provides students with accessible challenges and many teaching moments for the conductor.

With the recent tragic fire in the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris, programming works of French composers would be a

Randall Coleman

timely gesture. Many of our students have never had the opportunity to visit another country, and music makes those faraway lands seem closer to home. Darius Milhaud’s monumental Suite Francaise was composed in 1945 and premiered by the Goldman Band in the same year. The composition was later transcribed for orchestra and this version was premiered by the New York Philharmonic.

Written in five

movements, the movement titles are actual provinces in France with each movement based of off popular melodies of the day in the different regions of France. The piece contains a variety of tonal centers, including both major and minor tonalities, along with various tempi and styles, which varies from movement to movement as one might imagine. There are specific challenges for piccolo and alto saxophone, along with technical challenges for all instruments with numerous exposed sections for most every section. Studying this colossal work has numerous cross-curriculum opportunities for your ensemble and would provide a very current and practical bridge to expose students to the folk music of another country and would provide an enjoyable experience for students in strong programs.

I hope you will take some time over the summer months to remind yourself of a “seasoned” band piece that today’s students are rarely exposed to. There’s much music to be remembered! I hope you all have a relaxing and rejuvenating summer. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can ever be of assistance to you or your program.

Randall Coleman

Associate Director of Bands, University of Alabama

Conductor and Music Director,

Alabama Winds 37

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