Upcoming Concert Repertoire
The Parkville Symphonic Band Presents a Concert of ‘Forgotten Gems’
We begin our 24th season with our fall concert to be presented on Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 3:00 p.m., at the Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel on the Park University campus in Parkville, Missouri.
In this program we feature fine musical pieces that are either not well known, or have been neglected in recent years.
Military Symphony in F by Francois Joseph Gossec: One of the leading French composers of the classical period, Francois Gossec composed this symphony for band around 1793, although we note that the edition we will play has been updated to include saxophones, which had not yet been invented. It follows the basic structure of symphonic form as used by his contemporaries, Mozart and Haydn. While lacking the depth of his more famous contemporaries, the piece’s three movements are charming and skillfully written. It is designed for outdoor performances, and takes advantage of the more powerful brass sections of a large military band for dramatic effects not possible with the small orchestras of the time. A hand written note on my copy of the score by an unidentified earlier conductor rates this piece the “first interesting music for concert band.”
Mouvements Perpètuels, #III: I found this transcription of a Francis Poulenc piano piece while sorting through some old and mostly outdated band arrangements slated for transfer from the Park University Music Department archives to the recycle bin. What intrigued me initially was the unusually fine calligraphy in the hand-written score, and I began to suspect that the arranger, Kathryn Eckel, was a student from a much earlier period in Park’s history, and that it was possible that the piece had never been played. Indeed, Park University’s alumni office located Kathryn Eckel Little (class of 1960), and we found that she had written the piece for a music class assignment, and I likely had in my possession the only copy, and furthermore, as I guessed, the piece has never been performed. After 58 years, we think it is about time. We hope you will join with us in welcoming Kathy to our premier performance of her fine arrangement of this charming work!
Pillars of the Earth: I consider this late work by Frank Erickson to be among his finest, although it seems to have never received the recognition that it deserves. The challenging opening showcases strong brass sections with bursts of high-energy staccato passages moving rapidly from trumpets to horns and back again. The soaring melody of the middle section is as beautiful as you will find in the band repertoire, and the final section returns bit by bit to the energy of the beginning, and concludes by adding the middle section theme to the mix. This piece deserves to be in the repertoire of any band that can do it justice.
English Folk Song Suite: This band classic by Ralph Vaughan Williams gives us exactly what its name says with a succession of charming and characteristic folk songs from the early decades of twentieth century England. The first and last movements give us lively songs set in a sort of march style and tempo, while the slow middle movement offers a more pensive and plaintive atmosphere. There is nothing pretentious or particularly fancy in this piece, but all elegantly crafted.
Tally-Ho! Overture: Though mostly known for his marches, John Philip Sousa was also a composer of light comic operas, from which a number of his more famous march melodies were derived. This piece was composed in 1884 as an introductory overture for a play written by Joaquin Miller, a friend of Sousa. Originally written for orchestra (Sousa was a violinist), the version we will play is based on Sousa’s own transcription for band done in 1894. The style sounds very much like American music from the time period, but also suggests influences of European opera overtures by composers such as von Suppé. I hear a bit of Rossini’s influence as well. This piece is best enjoyed by imagining a concert set in a band stand in the town square around 1900. Add a parasol just in case it’s a sunny day!
The Syncopated Clock: This Leroy Anderson novelty used to be a frequent flyer on both band and orchestra pop concerts, but has fallen into obscurity in recent decades. Its fun and whimsical use of the ticking clock theme, whose regularity is interrupted by occasional syncopations, is possibly not fully appreciated by a younger generation whose members are less likely to have encountered clocks that tick. I wonder if there is an app for that?
On the Mall Concert March by Edwin Franko Goldman: Dr. Edwin Franko Goldman was one of the leading band directors and band music educators during his life from 1878 to 1956. While in his early 20s he played cornet in the Metropolitan Opera House Orchestra in New York, and played under some of the greatest conductors of the period, including Damrosch, Mahler and Toscanini. He became interested in developing the possibilities for wind bands, and went on to form the Goldman Band in 1911. He composed some 150 pieces, including 129 marches, and today we present his On the Mall, which features an audience participation part to be sung. The tune is simple, and the lyrics are even easier consisting of the single syllable, “La.” Like our Sousa piece, this evokes a pleasant afternoon band concert, in this case, on the mall of Central Park in New York City where the Goldman Band regularly performed. Goldman joined with Sousa and others in 1929 to found the American Bandmasters Association.