Karel Husa’s Smetana Fanfare

68031_photo

The Northshore Concert Band opens its 2017-2018 season with some star works of the  wind band world including Karel Husa’s dedicatory Smetana Fanfare, in memoriam of the great composer’s recent passing.

Karel Husa was born in Prague on August 7, 1921 and immigrated to the United States in 1954. He became an American citizen in 1959 and taught composition and conducting at Cornell University for 38 years until his retirement in 1992. Mr. Husa won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1969 and the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition in 1993.  He died at the age of 95 on December 14, 2016 at his home in Apex, North Carolina.

Dr. Mallory Thompson, now in her 12th year as full-time Artistic Director of the Northshore Concert Band, is director of bands, professor of music, coordinator of the conducting program, and holds the John W. Beattie Chair of Music at Northwestern University. Dr. Thompson had this to say about Karel Husa:

“My friendship with Karel Husa began in 1984 and is one that I’ve valued ever since. His Concerto for Wind Ensemble was the subject of my doctoral dissertation and I had the pleasure of interviewing him in person, having him attend a rehearsal with me conducting the Eastman Wind Ensemble, and his attendance at our performance. Karel was a gentle, generous, inexhaustibly positive human being. Through the end of his life, he would send handwritten letters of thanks to anyone who performed his music, which is unbelievable considering his fame and accomplishments. The Northshore Concert Band honored Karel with the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his singular contributions to the profession.”

Karel Husa was a longtime friend to the Northshore Concert Band.  The following appeared in the program notes of NCB’s November 9, 2008 concert at Pick-Staiger concert hall in Evanston, Illinois.

“In 1970..Mr. Husa was a visiting professor at Northwestern University for the summer session.  The Husa family arrived in Evanston to find that they were unable to get their assigned housing for several days. John and Marietta Paynter invited the Husas to be their guests. This was the start of a lasting friendship.  In fact, Karel Husa often referred to John Paynter as his “Cornish brother”.

In 1996, the Midwest Clinic commissioned Karel Husa to write a composition in honor of its 50th Anniversary Celebration. The Northshore Concert Band was selected to present the premier performance of the work Midwest Celebration, with Mr. Husa as guest conductor.

Mallory Thompson is also a lifelong friend of Husa.  In 2005 the Northshore Concert Band performed at the Midwest Clinic.  After the concert, at Dr. Thompson’s invitation, Mr. Husa attended the Northshore Concert Band’s post-concert party where he met Debbie Durham, principal NCB clarinet…and she asked if he would correspond with her high school theory students.”

Answering the students’ questions, Mr. Husa explained

“Composing is like learning new language. In addition, music writing goes through an interpreter (pianist, quartet, band, orchestra, chorus). This process is not needed in painting, poetry or novel. The painter shows his work, you read a poem or a novel from the writer’s pen.  As a boy I liked painting, poetry and also was learning how to play violin and piano.  I also played tennis, soccer, hockey and other sports! My parents however thought I would be an engineer, building bridges, etc. I enrolled in Prague University {in} 1939 but two months later they were closed due to protests over the killing of one of the students by Nazis. (Czechoslovakia was occupied at the time.) I was {then} lucky to get into the conservatory studio there until 1946.  Certainly my music is influenced by today’s life. We are part of it, and as Jean-Paul Sartre said, ‘We cannot escape.’ I think my music is part of what I have lived through.”

Bedřich_Smetana_monument in formt of the Bedrich Smetana Museum in Prague

Statue of Bedřich Smetana outside of the Bedřich Smetana Museum in Prague

Karel Husa’s Smetana Fanfare for Wind Ensemble was commissioned by the San Diego State University for a 1984 Festival of Music honoring Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. It was premiered by the SDSU Wind Ensemble on April 3, 1984 in San Diego,  The work uses two excerpts from Smetana’s symphonic poem the Wallenstein’s Camp, completed during his exile from Prague in 1859 in Gotenberg, Sweden.


 

STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE

featuring Smetana Fanfare by Karel Husa

November 5, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL.

 


 

Tickets available online at http://www.northshoreband.org or call 847-432-2263

Advertisements

American Composer Steven Bryant

bryant_biopic_2015_1b-1024x1024

On June 4, 2017, the Northshore Concert Band concludes its 61st season with On the Town. This lively musical program features In This Broad Earth by acclaimed American composer Steven Bryant.

Mr. Bryant offers up this description of his work:

In This Broad Earth is a short fanfare written for and dedicated to Kevin Sedatole and the Michigan State University Wind Symphony. Inspired by beauty I witness when hiking in the Austrian Alps with my wife, Verena, the music celebrates the earth, our only home (for now).

The fanfare embodies the numerous threads that have connected my life with Michigan State University over the past decade. Verena was one of Dr. Sedatole’s first conducting students at MSU, which coincided with the beginning of our relationship. I spent a great deal of time at Verena’s apartment in Spartan Village where I wrote the opening section of my Concerto for Wind Ensemble on a makeshift desk (a card table given to her by Director of Bands Emeritus John Whitwell). Over the years since, the MSU bands have performed many of my works, always at the very highest level, and though I was never a student there, I have great affection and loyalty to this extraordinary school on the banks of the Red Cedar.

COME, said the Muse,
Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,
Sing me the Universal.

In this broad Earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed Perfection.

from Walt Whitman’s Song of the Universal from Leaves of Grass

11380890_806196636142304_313021770_n

Steven Bryant’s music is chiseled in its structure and intent, fusing lyricism, dissonance, silence, technology, and humor into lean, skillfully-crafted works that enthrall listeners and performers alike.  The son of a professional trumpeter and music educator, he strongly values music education, and his creative output includes a number of works for young and developing musicians.

We contacted Mr. Bryant in Austria and asked him to share with us his thoughts on In This Broad Earth, his musical influences and words of advice that he has for young musicians.

About In This Broad Earth:

“I don’t have much to add about the piece that’s not already on my website. I wanted to create a euphoric fanfare and took my time in Austria (coincidentally, where I am at this moment writing this to you!) as inspiration.”
What are your Musical Influences?
“Stravinsky, Nine Inch Nails, Webern, Mr. Bungle, and my teachers, Francis McBeth, Cindy McTee, and John Corigliano”
Do you have any words of advice for young musicians?
“The hours of persistence in learning your craft will bring ongoing rewards throughout the rest of your life. Regardless of whether or not you plan to become a professional musician, continue to make music throughout your life, such as in a community band or orchestra. You will be a happier human being if you do.”

Steven Bryant studied composition with John Corigliano at The Juilliard School, Cindy McTee at the University of North Texas, and Francis McBeth at Ouachita University.  As he states on his website, he also trained for one summer in the mid-1980s as a break-dancer (i.e. was forced into lessons by his mother), was the 1987 radio-controlled car racing Arkansas state champion, has a Bacon Number of 1, and has played saxophone with Branford Marsalis on Sleigh Ride. He resides in Durham, NC with his wife, Verena Mösenbichler-Bryant who is an Assistant Professor of the Practice of Music and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Music Department  at Duke University, Director of the Duke University Wind Symphony, and conductor of the Durham Medical Orchestra.

His seminal work Ecstatic Waters, for wind ensemble and electronics, has become one of the most performed works of its kind in the world, receiving over 250 performances in its first five seasons. Recently, the orchestral version was premiered by the Minnesota Orchestra to unanimous, rapturous acclaim.

John Corigliano states Bryant’s “compositional virtuosity is evident in every bar” of his 34’ Concerto for Wind Ensemble. Bryant’s first orchestral work, Loose Id for Orchestra, hailed by composer Samuel Adler as “orchestrated like a virtuoso,” was premiered by The Juilliard Symphony and is featured on a CD release by the Bowling Green Philharmonia on Albany Records. Alchemy in Silent Spaces, commissioned by James DePreist and The Juilliard School, was premiered by the Juilliard Orchestra in May 2006. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series featured his brass quintet, Loose Id, conducted by Cliff Colnot, on its 2012-13 concert series.

Steve_MN-ORCH-May-2015-683x1024

Notable upcoming projects include an orchestral work for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (April, 2018), an evening-length dramatic work for the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, a choral work for the BBC Singers (July, 2017), a work for FivE for Euphonium Quartet and wind ensemble (2019), and a large work to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the University of Illinois Bands. Recent works include a Concerto for Alto Saxophone for Joseph Lulloff and the Michigan State University Wind Symphony (winner of the 2014 American Bandmasters Sousa Ostwald Award), and a Concerto for Trombone for Joseph Alessi and the Dallas Wind Symphony. Other commissions have come from the Gaudete Brass Quintet (Chicago), cellist Caroline Stinson (Lark Quartet), pianist Pamela Mia Paul, the Amherst Saxophone Quartet (funded by the American Composers Jerome Composers Commissioning Program), the University of Texas – Austin Wind Ensemble, the US Air Force Band of Mid-America, the Japanese Wind Ensemble Conductors Conference, and the Calgary Stampede Band, as well as many others.

A special thank you to Mr. Bryant for generously speaking with us and for giving permission to reproduce this material.  Please visit his website at http://www.stevenbryant.com to learn more about this American composer.

On the Town

Sunday, June 4, 2017, 3:00 pm

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, Illinois