New Music Reviews

compiled by editors | June 2016


(C1) The Birthplace of Kings – Check-Rated
By Patrick Roszell
    This attractive composition was inspired by the composer’s visit to the Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Bath, Somerset, England. Commonly referred to as Bath Abbey, the church is the third to occupy the current location. The first king of England was crowned on this site in 973 AD, a coronation service that set the precedent for coronations of all future kings and queens of England, including Elizabeth II. A stately, majestic opening section introduces a regal melody first stated by the clarinet section. A full ensemble section, now with melodic material in the trumpets, leads to a smoother, contrasting section with flowing, lyrical lines in the upper woodwinds and alto saxophones accompanied by staccato quarter notes in the bass clarinet and low brass. A brief passage for brass only is followed by a short transition that leads to a restatement of earlier material. The introduction is then presented as a noble finale, bringing the work to a grand conclusion. Chimes (or optional bells) and optional timpani in certain locations adds to the regal mood of the piece. This is a delightful number sure to engage performers and audiences alike. ($51, Belwin-Mills, 2:30) M.H.

(C2) Autumn Reflections – Check-Rated
By Steve Hodges
    This beautiful piece conveys a sense of reflection – on what could have been and what lies ahead as summer comes to an end with the chill of winter on the horizon. A brief, expressive introduction leads to a contemplative opening section with initial melodic material in the clarinets and alto saxophones. Additional instruments are added before moving to a short, rhythmically fragmented passage that introduces a joyful full-ensemble section with lush harmonies and flowing eighth note lines that proceeds to a powerful climax. A more subdued passage follows that quickly builds in intensity before moving to a quiet, thoughtful ending. This expressive composition features, straightforward rhythmic material, engaging lines for each instrument, thoughtful percussion writing, and two-part scoring for clarinets, alto saxophones, and trumpets. ($49, Alfred, 2:45) M.H.

(C3) Prayer – Check-Rated
By Steven L. Rosenhaus
    Written at the request of the Sacred Heart University Concert Band, the dedication of this moving work reads, “In memoriam, Newtown, Connecticut, December 14, 2012.” Performed at the first memorial service for the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School, located a few miles from the university, this slow, sensitive piece begins with a single note on the chimes. Additional instruments are added as an emotional melody in G minor soon appears. The emotions conveyed gradually move to a feeling of contemplation as the key shifts to Bb major. A sense of consolation is apparent as the composition proceeds to a quiet, heartfelt conclusion. Allowing some flexibility concerning instrumentation, the piece includes two-part scoring for alto saxophone and horn, three-part scoring for clarinet and trumpet, a trombone 2 part as a substitute for horn 2, a flute 2 part as a substitute for oboe, and optional parts for bass clarinet, double bass, and piano. Also provided are cross cues in the euphonium for horn 1, and in the bassoon for bass clarinet. Chimes make an important contribution to the composition, and they sound 26 times. Piano or synthesizer may be substituted for chimes if necessary. ($55, Music-Print Productions/distributed by LudwigMasters, 6:00) M.H.

(C4) The Old Pirate’s Tale – Check-Rated
By Darren Mitchell
    This engaging programmatic piece will stir the imaginations of performers and listeners alike. Intended to depict tall tales of high seas adventures as told by an old pirate, the piece begins with a dark, mysterious opening section that represents the pirate gathering his crew. The intensity builds and soon a bold melody emerges as tales of swashbuckling adventures, battles won, storms, and shipwrecks begin to be told through a variety of sections ranging from calm, thinly scored phrases to animated full ensemble passages. A final march-like section brings the work, and the pirate’s stories, to a victorious and exciting conclusion. The composition includes two-part writing for flute, clarinet, bassoon, alto saxophone, trumpet, horn, and trombone and interesting percussion writing for a full complement of instruments including castanets, wind chimes, temple blocks, whip, brake drum, tri-toms, cowbell, and vibraphone. An enjoyable piece that will be a memorable addition to any concert program. ($100, Grand Mesa, 6:12) M.H. 

(C5) Downshifting – Check-Rated
By Dan Welcher
    Commissioned by a consortium of 20 high school and college bands, the inspiration for this creative work comes from the composer’s fondness of riding his 21-speed bicycle. Because of the gears available, it is possible to keep one’s legs moving at a constant speed while the bike is moving slowly or quickly. The composer ueed this basic concept while scoring this musical representation of a bike ride, keeping the same mathematical inner pulse while shifting (conveyed through the use of a ratchet) as the hilly terrain and scenery changes. The journey is reflected through contrasting textures, changing meters, and a variety of melodic and rhythmic material as the work proceeds through sections with subtitles such as, “Working harder – Seeing the climb, ahead…,” “Steady and committed (The climb begins!),” “Straining against the grade,” “Reaching the crest,” and “Flying, Over The Top.” Expertly scored with engaging parts for each wind section and well-conceived percussion writing, the composition is ideal for showcasing an ensemble’s musicality. An enjoyable and uplifting work that will appeal to performers and listeners alike, the composition will be a memorable addition to any concert or festival program. ($150, Theodore Presser, 6:30) M.H. 

(C2) Guardians of the Banner
By Joseph Compello
    This original march is ideal for introducing the march style to developing musicians. Scored in 2/4 time (quarter note = 100-112), the composition features interesting lines for each instrument and rhythmic energy throughout. Accurate execution of marcato-style articulation, uniform note lengths, proper tone and intonation during the final fortissimo section, and a steady tempo are needed for an outstanding performance. The piece includes identical bass lines for low brass and woodwinds, and two-part scoring for trumpet and clarinet. Clarinet 2 is written entirely below the break. ($50, Carl Fischer, 2:10) M.H.

(C2) Jubilant Fanfare 
By Michael Story
    A majestic opening section introduces the heroic main theme, initially stated softly by the clarinet section accompanied by a stately snare drum. The intensity then begins to build as additional instruments are added as the piece moves to a full-ensemble section with melodies for trumpets and low brass. A bold, slightly faster section with driving rhythms leads to a dramatic restatement of the introductory material, bringing the work to a joyous and powerful conclusion. Expertly scored with engaging lines for each instrument, the piece includes two-part scoring for clarinet and trumpet, well-conceived percussion writing, and effective dynamic contrasts. An engaging composition for performers and listeners alike, the piece will be a memorable addition to any program. ($57, Belwin-Mills, 2:30) M.H.

(C2) Shalom!
By Gene Milford
    This delightful composition effectively captures the spirit and energy of two well-known Hebrew folk songs. An energetic opening section (2/4 , quarter note = 120-128) introduces the playful Shabat, Shalom with melodic material initially in the trumpets supported by the full ensemble. The traditional round Shalom Chaverim (4/4 , quarter note = 108) provides the basis for a contrasting section with softer, more lyrical lines, changing textures, and brief solos for flute and alto saxophone. An effective key change then highlights the return to the opening material. An effective accelerando during the final phrase brings the work to a rousing conclusion. Well conceived percussion scoring is for xylophone, bells, timpani, snare drum, bass drum, triangle, tambourine, suspended cymbal, and crash cymbals. Precise execution of syncopated and dotted rhythms, strict observance of dynamics, and proper balance between melodic lines and accompanying material are needed for an outstanding performance of the piece. ($60.00, Carl Fischer, 2:55) M.H. 

(C3) C-141 Starlifter
By Randall D. Standridge
    This commissioned work with a cinematic flair was inspired by the composer’s visit to the Air Mobility Command Museum in Dover, Delaware, which houses an Air Force C-141 Starlifter, an essential piece of military equipment that was first launched in 1963. A brisk opening section (4/4, quarter note = 160), representing the aircraft speeding down the runway, leads to an exciting fanfare that announces the plane’s ascent into the sky. Images of the Starlifter soaring through the clouds are conjured during the main body of the piece, which features changing meters (5/4, 4/4, 3/4) and contrasting sections that alternate between energetic, rhythmically intense passages and smooth, lyrical phrases. Expertly scored with attractive textures and melodic and rhythmic interest throughout, the composition features two-part writing for clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, and trombone; and active, well-conceived percussion parts for a complete complement of instruments including tom-tom, brake drum, wind chimes, marimba, and China crash. ($70, Grand Mesa 3:35) M.H. 

(C4) Cycle of the Werewolf 
By Jeremy S. Martin
    This interesting work was inspired by a 1983 Stephen King story of the same name. In 1985 the story was made into a film titled Silver Bullet. A dark opening section, reflecting the werewolf’s character, begins with driving triplet rhythms that introduce an ominous melody initially stated by low brass and low woodwinds. The rhythmic intensity builds as the piece reaches a brief majestic section in major tonality that represents the arrival of a hero to fight the creature. This is followed by a shift back to minor as the werewolf howls into the night. After a brief pause a soft, mysterious section depicts the hero awaiting the werewolf’s return. The intense fight begins anew as the composition moves to a triumphant conclusion signifying the defeat of the beast. With melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic interest throughout, the composition includes engaging lines of similar levels of difficulty for each instrument, parts for string bass and harp, and percussion scoring that includes parts for vibraphone and tam-tam. This is an outstanding choice as a cinematic-like change of pace number. ($75, LudwigMasters, 3:40) M.H. 

(C4) Children of Gaia 
By Robert Sheldon 
    Sometimes referred to as Mother Nature, Gaia is a primordial deity in Greek mythology who had numerous children of great significance to the ancient Greeks. Three of these – Typhon, Tethys, and Enceladus – are musically depicted in this dramatic work. The opening material of the composition represents Typhon, the largest and most fearsome of all creatures, who had a hundred dragon heads on each of his hands and eyes that flashed fire. A soft anticipation-filled introduction, depicting the sleeping giant, leads to a loud, fiery section with sixteenth-note flourishes, agitated rhythms, and bold melodic material that represents his violent outburst after being suddenly awakened. Tethys, the mother of the Earth’s chief rivers and the embodiment of the world’s waters, is represented by a thinly scored, calmer section with flowing lines that convey a sense of floating in water. The ill-behaved and menacing Enceladus was buried under a volcano. Volcanic fires were said to be his breath, and the Greeks referred to an earthquake as a “strike of Enceladus.” This section, conveying a mischievous mood, is filled with changing meters, loud rhythmic outbursts, and intense sixteenth-note figures. A loud final phrase brings the work to a powerful conclusion. Percussion requirements include parts for vibraphone, brake drum, two toms, mark tree, and ocean drum. An engaging number for performers and audiences alike, this unique composition will be a memorable addition to any program. ($85, Alfred, 6:00) M.H.

(C4) Fanfare: A Vision and a Dream
By Ryan Nowlin
    The fascinating historical background for the commission of this work will appeal to young musicians across the nation, to all car enthusiasts, and specifically to the residents of Warren, Ohio, where the first Packard automobile was built in 1899. Mr. Packard generously provided financial support for a music hall and band for Warren that continues to this day, providing the northern Ohio region with cultural and musical programs each year. This special fanfare honors the Packard legacy and is used as a celebratory opening for band concerts at the W.D. Packard Music Hall. However, because of its stirring rhythms and emotional content, directors will certainly want to consider this number as a fanfare for any special occasion. The music requires strong performances from the flutes, piccolo, and clarinets. Brass is brilliant and exciting with only a few high Cs for the first trumpet. The spirited composition moves across the seventy-nine measures in a two minute dash with spirit at quarter note = 152+. ($75, Kjos, 2:00) J.W.K.

(C4) Triumph of the Argonauts
By Robert Sheldon
    This can be a great multi-discipline work that forges connections with art, history, and literature departments. Like a tone poem, this well crafted composition conveys the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece. Even if students are familiar with the heroic myth, it is worth the time to revisit it. Mental imagery is an important filter for emotive playing, and vivid imaginations will enhance the musical interpretation. The composition was commissioned by the Argo High School Band of Summit, Illinois, Bob Good and Megan Corkins, directors. Rated for grade 4, this composition has the right mix of pageantry, calm, courage, travail, and resulting triumph. Jason and the Golden Fleece has been a fascinating tale of enchantment for centuries, and I commend Robert Sheldon for bringing it to the public again with the ringing sonorities of his exciting music. Some rhythm sections may need extra attention, especially the meter changes of 3/2, 4/2, and 6/4. There are exposed solos for flute and oboe, and the presto quarter note = 176 may challenge even the percussion section. The band members will learn a great deal about balance, dynamics, interpretation, and playing with inspiration. ($85, Alfred, 6:10) J.W.K.


(J2) Unit 7 
By Sam Jones 
Arranged by Rich Sigler
    This arrangement swings using alternating two-beat and four-beat styles, and it cleverly integrates a recurring vamp section reminiscent of Stan Kenton’s Intermission Riff. This arrangement includes a written solo line and chord changes for alto sax I, a horn soli section, and a four-bar drum solo. Rhythm section parts are fully notated, with the exception of the bass part, which does not include chord changes. Additional parts are included for flute, Bb clarinet, tuba, horn, vibes, and baritone treble clef. This swinging arrangement would work well in a festival or concert setting. ($46, Belwin Jazz, 2:50) D.F.

(J2) Cariba 
By Wes Montgomery
Arranged by Victor Lopez
    Cariba is a fun way to introduce young players to the music of guitarist Wes Montgomery. The tune is a bossa nova in a 12-bar blues form that uses a 3/2 clave pattern in the drums and a samba-like rhythmic pattern in the piano, guitar, and bass parts. The arranger recommends that the rhythm section practice separately to establish a strong Latin groove. This arrangement includes a sax soli as well as written solo lines and chord changes for tenor sax I and trumpet I. Additional parts are included for flute, Bb clarinet, tuba, horn, vibes, and baritone treble clef. ($46, Belwin Jazz, 2:50) D.F.

(J3) Red Clay 
By Freddie Hubbard 
Arranged by Mike Kamuf
    This energetic arrangement features opening melodic statements in a combo-like tenor sax/trumpet combination, followed by a full band restatement that leads to the solo section. Solo written lines and chord changes are supplied for both tenor sax I and trumpet II. The closing includes an optional drum solo cadenza to bring the arrangement to an exciting conclusion. The arrangement is playable with reduced instrumentation, or with additional instruments including flute, Bb clarinet, tuba, horn, vibes, and baritone treble clef. A successful performance will benefit from careful attention to the original recording in order to capture the soulful 1970’s groove. This arrangement is a great way to introduce the music of Freddie Hubbard. ($46, Belwin Jazz, 5:40) D.F.

(J4) A Moment in Time 
By Paul Lohorn
    A Moment in Time is an original medium-tempo F Blues swing tune that features written solo space for tenor I and trumpet II. Although there are no written repeats, the song could be opened up for other soloists as needed, and backgrounds could be cued as desired. Trumpet I reaches written D6 and trombone I reaches A4. All brass players have written long note shakes, and less experienced players may be challenged by this technique. The guitar part contains chord changes and comping rhythms. The bass part is written out and includes chord changes. Optional parts are included for flute, clarinet, and horn. ($50, Jalen, 3:00) D.F.

(J5) The Sun Will Shine Today 
By Patrick Williams
    This up-tempo swing original is a feature for solo clarinet, but Williams includes optional solo parts for Bb, Eb, C, and bass clef soloists, as well. Optional horn parts will enhance the tune, but most of these lines are also cued in other parts if horns are not an option. There is a brief saxophone soli that follows the open solo section. Brass parts are designed for advanced players, with trumpet I reaching written F6 and trombone I reaching Db5. Advanced bands looking for an up-tempo swing feature for a soloist should give this arrangement a try. ($80, Belwin Jazz, 5:20) D.F.

(J5) The Cannonball Run 
By Gordon Goodwin
    This is a Latin pop-style original written in cut time. It includes a saxophone feature (written for S-A-T-T-B) and space for various soloists. Trumpet I reaches mostly to written D6 with three phrases reaching beyond to E6, F6, and G6, and trombone I reaches A4). In addition to the written sax soli, which cleverly opens with trading two-measure phrases with a soloist, there are solo chord changes supplied for all saxes, trumpet IV, and trombones I and II. This is a great choice to feature a talented saxophone section and great soloists from across the band.
($72, Belwin Jazz, 6:30) D.F.


(S1) Jack in the Box 
By Loreta Fin 
    Designed to teach organization of bow division and planning of bow speeds, this clever piece contains off-the-beat accents, rest counting, and extreme dynamic shifts. A contrasting pizzicato section provides a character change and coordination challenge. The piano part does not double the orchestra but adds interest in the B section. The conductor’s score contains helpful rehearsal suggestions. Bowings are included and the whole work can be played in first position. ($45, Wilfin, 2:25) S.G.