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Bookmarks Program Notes

Presented by The Old Barker Association North Shore Wind Symphony & NSW Police Concert Band

4th June 2022, 7pm Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

North Shore Wind Symphony

Music Director: Andrew McWade

Through the Looking Glass – Jess Turner

Inspired by the Alice in Wonderland adventure of the same name, Through the Looking Glass is an otherworldly fanfare which transports us into the world of our concert this evening. Comprised of only five pitches, which appear as cyclic oscillations, ostinati and blocks of sound, the fanfare is a force of colour, mysticism, and bubbling anticipation. 

Mont Fuji – Toshio Mashima

Emerging from a stormy landscape of the ensemble’s lowest instruments, Mashima’s Mont Fuji is an almost narrative exploration of Japan’s famous mountain and its surrounding landscape. Building to a propulsive energy, the work passes through moments of driving intensity, playfulness, and pensive melancholy before finishing with a great gesture of triumph. 

Mont Fuji will be conducted by guest conductor Manabu Inoue. Inoue is the conductor of the Senshu Wind Orchestra in Japan, and the Vice Chairman of the Japanese Band Directors Association. He has had appearances with the Osaka Symphony Orchestra, Bulgarian National Sophia Philharmonic and the Senri Philharmonia, Osaka.

Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble – Frank Ticheli

II. Song for Aaron

III. Riffs for Lenny

Ticheli’s Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble is a tribute to three prolific 20th-Century American composers, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein. Rowena Watts, winner of the North Shore Wind Symphony’s concerto competition, will perform the final two movements this evening.

The second movement, Song for Aaron, was adapted from a composition Ticheli originally wrote for voice and possesses a hymn-like quality. The solo clarinet emerges from a still soundscape of texture and moves in dialogue with the solo trumpet and oboe, leaping across its range with a sense of yearning.

Riffs for Lenny, the concerto’s thrilling finale, is melodically sparse, and a series of interjecting motifs are passed around the ensemble. The solo clarinet radiates a sense of erratic excitement, beginning with a series of enigmatic bends, before becoming remarkably conversational with its flitting, spiky motions.

On this movement Ticheli wrote: “I imagined Bernstein perched on a pulpit, passionately preaching about Music as a powerful and necessary force for humanity. In a sense, I pay tribute to his lifelong enthusiasm, unleashed through his conducting, composing, performing, teaching, and in countless other ways”.

Bookmarks From Japan – Julie Giroux

I. Fuji-San – Mount Fuji 

II. Nihonbashi- Bridge Market 

III. The Great Wave off Kanagawa – The Life of One Wave 

IV. Kinryu-zan Senoji – Thunder Gate 

V. Evening Snow at Kambara – Light is the Touch 

VI. Hakone – Drifting 

Julie Giroux’s six sketches of Japan take their inspiration from a set of painted bookmarks she received as a gift: “My imagination was whirling with each scene painted on each bookmark. I knew right then and there that those little bookmarks would be the subject of my next symphony.” Each of the six bookmarks correlates to a movement of the work. 

The first movement, based on a print by Hokusai of Mount Fuji, depicts the mountain in haze; whirling, indistinct melodies find their footing in triumph towards the movement’s conclusion, as Mount Fuji emerges from clouds, magnificent and domineering. 

The second movement, a nod to Hiroshige’s print of the wooden Nihonbashi bridge, features a spirited melody representative of the hustle and bustle of a crowded, energetic street market. 

The Great Wave off Kanagawa, perhaps Hokusai’s most famous print, is the centrepiece of Giroux’s third sketch, where overlapping and flitting woodwind lines are underpinned by a solid core of brass, which build to the wave’s great breach. The ensemble reaches stillness before coming together as a single force in complete rhythmic unison. Finishing at rest, the wave dissipates. 

Centred around a driving, yet disorienting melody, the fourth movement portrays the foreboding magnificence of an ancient temple. The ensemble moves primarily in unison, an impenetrable wall of sound, supported by the threatening maelstrom of percussion. 

Light is the touch refers to the gentle powder of snow falling on skin, and the fifth movement, featuring the alto flute, is a gentle portrayal of evening, and a certain spiritual stillness that comes with darkness. The movement grows in texture, but falls away to finish how it began, a trio of flute, piano and harp, warm, but softly haunting. 

The final movement takes its inspiration from a bookmark of Hakone. Giroux, while researching the city, discovered that its highway felt increasingly familiar – she had encountered it in a video game, and inspired by the free moving thrill of racing along a highway, used the idea of ‘drifting’ to subtitle the work. The rushing, almost breathless movement brings the whole work to a close with a great burst of energy. 

NSW Police Concert Band

Music Director: John Saunders

Fest Musik Der Stadt Vien (1943)  – Richard Strauss arr. Eric Banks 

Translating to Festive Music for the City of Vienna, Strauss’ short fanfare was originally composed for ten trumpets, seven trombones, two tubas, and timpani, Eric Banks’ arrangement extending this to full symphonic wind ensemble. The fanfare is a sparkling demonstration of grandeur to announce the NSW Police Band this evening.

Traveller (2003)  – David Maslanka 

David Maslanka’s Traveller was commissioned to honour the career and retirement of the director of bands at UT Arlington, Ray C. Lichtenwalter, and is inspired by the idea of a big life shift – a contemplation of past achievements but of the mystery of the impending future, particularly towards the end chapter of one’s life. Opening with the melody from the chorale “Nicht so traurig, nicht so sehr” (“Not so sad, not so much”), Traveller moves through moments of chaotic restlessness and unsettled harmony before finishing at rest, the final chord reinstating itself by clinging on well past its ending, as if reluctant to let go. 

American Elegy (2000) – Frank Ticheli 

Composed in memory of those who lost their lives at the Columbine High School massacre, Ticheli’s American Elegy is a simple hymn written as a symbol of strength for the tragedy’s survivors and a quiet farewell to those who lost their lives. Ticheli, honoured by the commission, composed most of the work in the space of two weeks, and conducted its premiere by the Columbine High School Band. 

The work culminates in a quotation of the Columbine Alma Mater, and an off-stage trumpet call follows,  a heavenly messenger. A delicate offering in light of a heart-wrenching tragedy, Ticheli’s pertinent use of melody leaves room for gentle reflection.

Ciudades (2011) for saxophone quartet – Guillermo Lago  

  1. Montevideo (Uruguay) 
  2. Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) 

Montevideo and Addis Ababa are two movements of a series of sketches Guillermo Lago composed for saxophone quartet, each inspired by a distinct city. 

Montevideo, Uruguayis a slow tango ballad, inspired by the city’s epithet: ‘the Second Capital of Tango’. A sinister darkness belies the sultry melody, with the four saxophones blending in and out of one another as a seamless, single voice. 

Addis Ababa is an electrifying portrait of the Ethiopian capital, featuring virtuosic solo passages for each member of the saxophone quartet. Percussive slap tongue effects and use of the saxophones’ upper range limits create an unusual soundscape evocative of a lively yet enigmatic city.  

Vientos Y Tangos (2002)  – Michael Gandolfi 

Gandolfi’s first work for symphonic winds, Vientos Y Tangos (Winds and Tangos) was commissioned for the Frank Battisti 70th Birthday Commission Project. Battisti himself requested that Gandolfi compose something in a tango style, and Gandolfi uses inventive timbral combinations in pursuit of an authentic tango sound. On his work Gandolfi writes:

‘In preparation for this piece, I devoted several months to the study and transcription of tangos from the early style of Juan D’arienzo and the ‘Tango Nuevo’ style of Astor Piazzolla to the current trend of ‘Disco/Techno Tango,’ among others. After immersing myself in this listening experience, I simply allowed the most salient features of these various tangos to inform the direction of my work. The dynamic contour and the various instrumental combinations that I employ in the piece are all inspired by the traditional sounds of the bandoneon, violin, piano and contrabass.’

Malaguena (2021)   – Ernesto Lecuona arr.  Anthony Brahe

Ernesto Leucona is one of Cuba’s most prolific composers, and Malaguena, originally a movement from his solo piano Suite Andalucia (1933), is one of his most popular works, having been arranged for a wide variety of ensembles across numerous genres. This arrangement, by the NSW Police Band’s own Anthony Brahe, draws its inspiration from Stan Kenton’s big band adaptation of the work. A malaguena is a flamenco style dance originating from Malaga, in the southeast of Spain, and this spirited rendition is a celebratory conclusion to a mammoth evening of music.