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Music


 

1. The Aviators March

John Philip Sousa


2. Flying Colours     

     MU1 Jonathan R. Yanik, Alto Saxophone

Matthew Orlovich

 

 

3. Scherzo a la Britten

John Leszczynski

 

4. Songs of Separation

     MUC Tia F. Wortham, Soprano

     Idolatry – Arna Bontemps

     Poeme – Philippe Thoby-Marcelin

     Parted – Paul Laurence Dunbar
     If You Should Go – Countee Cullen
     A Black Pierrot – Langston Hughes

 

William Grant Still
(arr. MUCS Scott A. Silbert)
           

 

5. Symphony No. 1 – Omnes Gentes

     Sea Chanters Chorus
     MU1 Susan Kavinski, Soprano

Brett Abigaña

6. Symphonic Synthesis

David DeBoor Canfield

 

7. At the Summit   

    (Auf dem Gipfel) from Ein Alpensinfonie

Richard Strauss (trans. MU1 David J. Miller)

 

8. Eternal Father, Strong to Save

     Sea Chanters Chorus

John B. Dykes



 

 

 

Liner Notes


The Aviators March

John Philip Sousa

We begin this recording with the composer who has become synonymous with American military band music, John Philip Sousa. Sousa (1854-1932) has long been associated with “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, which he conducted from 1880 until 1892. What is less well known is that during World War I he was commissioned as a lieutenant commander in the Navy, and in this capacity led Navy Band Great Lakes in Chicago. His more than 150 marches constitute some of the most beloved and frequently performed repertoire in the wind band canon, and he is well deserving of his moniker, “The March King.” In order to acknowledge and celebrate 100 years of naval aviation, we’ve chosen to feature Sousa’s musical homage to those intrepid early flying aces, “The Aviators March.”


Flying Colours

Matthew Orlovich
MU1 Jonathan R. Yanik, Alto Saxophone

Matthew Orlovich
Matthew Orlovich

In January 2011, Australian composer Matthew Orlovich traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the premiere of “Flying Colours.” The event was the Navy Band’s 34th International Saxophone Symposium, and it featured Orlovich’s fellow Australian Barry Cockroft as soloist, with Capt. Brian O. Walden conducting. Of the experience, Orlovich wrote:

 

…the virtuosity and musicianship of the soloists was astonishing; the precision, balance and dynamic flexibility of the band were impeccable; the color and detail of the band orchestrations and feats of arrangement fed my imagination. I appreciated just how many different ways a composer can write for the saxophone and how rich a variety of approaches there are to composing concerto-type works.

 

MU1 Jonathan Yanik
MU1 Jonathan Yanik

As for “Flying Colours,” the piece is constructed in a traditional three-part form (fast-slow-fast), yet displays novel and imaginative harmonic and rhythmic elements. The first section begins with a festive outburst in the brass and percussion, bringing to mind a whirling, carnival-like atmosphere which sets the stage for a nimble and manic opening statement by the solo saxophone. The writing calls for a deft touch and a lightness of character, and Musician 1st Class Jonathan Yanik’s graceful facility is well suited to the challenge. Section two opens with a somber ostinato intoned by the low brass, and gradually gives way to a hypnotic and ethereal melody accompanied by sparse woodwinds and percussion. Mr. Orlovich implements several unusual performance techniques in the solo saxophone, such as flutter and slap tonguing, as well as bluesy pitch-bending. Soon the ostinato returns and builds into a resounding fanfare, leading finally into the third section, which is in fact a recapitulation of the beginning, with some additional variations and flourishes in the solo part. The concerto concludes with a pyrotechnic cadenza, which pushes the soloist to the limits of range and dexterity.

 

Scherzo a la Britten

John Leszczynski

             
John Leszczynski
John Leszczynski
At 23 years old, John Leszczynski holds the distinction of being the youngest composer featured on this recording, and his “Scherzo a la Britten” is appropriately charged with youthful vigor and enthusiasm. As indicated in the title, the work is inspired by the closing fugue from Benjamin Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” and like its namesake, demands virtuosic precision from each section in the ensemble. Beginning with a darting melodic passage in the high woodwinds, the theme is passed to each member of the instrument family from top to bottom, and leads into an extended development, where the initial motif is stretched, turned upside-down and broken up into its most basic elements. Momentum never flagging, a protracted and dissonant brass fanfare hurtles the piece into its furious conclusion. Leszczynski has this to say about “Scherzo a la Britten:”

It is nearly impossible to understand two people talking to you at the same time – but what if you could comprehend four or five things simultaneously? In a carefully crafted piece of music, this is possible. We all know some musical examples of this: think of “Frere Jacques” or “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and if you’ve ever seen a musical, there was probably a scene near the end where several of the characters sing different melodies at the same time. From children’s songs to musicals, to the fugues of J.S. Bach – there is something magical about these moments of musical counterpoint, and that is the phenomenon I wanted to explore in my piece.

John Leszczynski graduated from Indiana University in 2010 with degrees in both Composition and Saxophone Performance, and was awarded the Dean’s Prize for Composition. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Maryland, where he also teaches undergraduate classes in musicianship.

 

Songs of Separation

William Grant Still (arr. MUCS Scott Silbert)
MUC Tia Wortham, soprano

William Grant Still (1895-1978) has earned a special status in the history of American classical music, being the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony (his first symphony) performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera performed on national television. He is often referred to as "the Dean" of African-American composers. 


His “Songs of Separation,” published in 1949, is based on poetry of four prominent African-American authors (as well as Philippe Thoby-Marcelin,who was Haitian) and represents some of the finest examples of the art-song genre from that era.  Originally composed for voice and piano, the

MUC Tia Wortham
MUC Tia Wortham

arrangement featured on this recording is by Chief Musician Scott Silbert, who masterfully expands the sonic architecture of the cycle while maintaining the style and character of the period. The resulting work is atmospheric, appropriately moody, and includes occasional literal references to the text, such as the plaintive chime accompanying the line, “And set an old bell tolling on the air.” This arrangement was first performed by the Navy Concert Band during its 2011 national concert tour, and featured Chief Musician Tia Wortham as soloist.  Wortham’s deep and heartfelt performance here represents a swansong for the singer and bassoonist, who is retiring after 22 years of service.



Idolatry – Arna Bontemps

You have been good to me, I give you this:
The arms of lovers empty as our own,
Marble lips sustaining one long kiss
And the hard sound of hammers breaking stone.

For I will build a chapel in the place
Where our love died and I will journey there
To make a sign and kneel before your face
And set an old bell tolling on the air.

Poeme – Philippe Thoby-Marcelin

 

Ce n'était pas l'aurore,

Mais je m'etais leve   

En me frottant les yeux.  

Tout dormait alentour.  

 

Les bananiers sous ma fenÍtre,  

Frissonnaient dans le clair de lune

Calme.

Alors, j'ai pris me tÍte dans mes mains 

Et j'ai pensé vous. 

It was not yet dawn,

But I arose

Rubbing my eyes.

Around, all slept.

 

Under my window, the banana trees

Shivered in the moonlight,

Calm.

Then, I held my head in my hands

And I thought of you.

 

Parted – Paul Laurence Dunbar

She wrapped her soul in a lace of lies
With a prime deceit to pin it;
And I thought I was gaining a fearsome prize,
So I staked my soul to win it.

We wed and parted on her complaint,
And both were a bit of a barter,
Tho’ I’ll confess that I’m no saint,
I’ll swear that she’s no martyr.

If You Should Go – Countee Cullen

Love, leave me like the light,
The gently passing day;
We would not know, but for the night,
When it has slipped away.

So many hopes have fled,
Have left me but the name
Of what they were.  When love is dead,
Go thou, beloved, the same.

Go quietly; a dream
When done, should leave no trace
That it has lived, except a gleam
Across the dreamer’s face.

A Black Pierrot – Langston Hughes

I am a black Pierrot:
     She did not love me,
     So I crept away into the night
     And the night was black, too.

I am a black Pierrot:
     She did not love me,
     So I wept until the red dawn
     Dripped blood over the eastern hills
     And my heart was bleeding, too.

I am a black Pierrot:
     She did not love me,
     So with my once gay-colored soul
     Shrunken like a balloon without air,
     I went forth in the morning
     To seek a new brown love.

 

Symphony No. 1 – Omnes Gentes

Brett Abigaña
Sea Chanters Chorus
MU1 Susan Kavinski, Soprano

 

Brett Abigaña
Brett Abigaña

Brett Abigaña’s “Symphony No. 1” has its origins in a commission he was given in 2009 by then Lt. Cmdr. Brian O. Walden and the United States Naval Academy Band.  At that time, the Naval Academy Chapel was being rededicated after extensive renovations, and “Omnes Gentes” was written to commemorate the occasion.  That work, which constitutes the last movement of the symphony, takes its inspiration from the setting of Psalm 47 by Giovanni Gabrieli (1553-1612).  Like his musical forefather, Abigaña utilizes antiphonal trumpets; placing trumpets on opposite sides of the performance hall create an acoustic “stereo” effect.  When Walden became leader of the U.S. Navy Band, he asked Abigaña to expand the piece into a four movement symphony, and the result, featured here in its world-premiere recording, bears a dedication to the United States Navy Band, and Captain Brian O. Walden, conductor.

 

I. Prelude

The symphony opens in a quiet, meditative state, with disparate musical fragments whispered in the harp and percussion. Soon a searching theme is heard by the clarinet, answered a few measures later by the oboe.  The motif is then echoed by a haunting offstage solo soprano, and other woodwinds gradually join and fade, giving way to a chant-like canon in the flutes and piccolo.  The contemplative character returns, and the movement ends as it began, with a soft clarinet reprising the opening theme.

II. Degeneration

The second movement bursts forth in a rollicking 6/8 scherzo, and features a wide palette of orchestral colors, from thickly scored tutti passages to playful counterpoint between various solo instruments.  Abigaña makes deft use of meter changes and hemiola, keeping listener and performer alike on the edge of their seats, and one senses a nod of acknowledgement to wind ensemble pioneer Vincent Persichetti in the dense, somewhat angular harmonic structure.

III. Benediction

The breathless excitement of the second movement is followed by a solemn, hymn-like chorale, accompanied by organ.  A simple but noble theme, intoned

MU1 Susan Kavinski
MU1 Susan Kavinski

softly at first by the flute, English horn and alto saxophone recurs throughout, soaring majestically in the horns later in the movement.  Building gradually upon the repetitive chord progression, Abigaña displays a marvelous acumen for pacing and drama; the moment when the second theme is introduced by Musician 1st Class Susan Kavinski’s shimmering soprano is one of the highlights of the composition.  Having arrived at a lofty and imposing climax, the third movement gracefully ebbs away.  The chorus is introduced to reprise the second theme, and the solo soprano finishes with a floating descant.

IV. Motet

The final movement, described briefly in the introduction, begins with antiphonal trumpets quoting a passage of the aforementioned “Omnes Gentes” by Gabrieli, and the text is taken from the Latin translation of Psalm 47.  Appropriately, the setting is a boisterous canticle of praise, as well as an inventive blend of ancient and modern compositional techniques.  The harmonic and rhythmic language of the piece is fresh and unmistakably 21st century, yet there are references to older practices, such as word-painting (the rising motive on the line, “Ascendit Deus in jubilo,” for example).  The full forces of the ensemble are unleashed in this final movement, bringing the symphony to a reverent and exhilarating conclusion.

 

Omnes gentes, plaudite minibus; 
     jubilate Deo in voce exsultationes:  
Quoniam Dominus excelsus, terribilis,  
     Rex magnus super omnem terram.
Subiecit populos nobis, et gentes sub   
     pedibus nostris. 
Elegit nobis haereditatem suam:      speciem
Jacob quem dilexit.
     Ascendit Deus in jubilo, et Dominus in
     Voce tubae. 
Alleluia

All peoples, clap your hands;

     praise God in exultant voice:

For the Lord is high, and to be feared,

     The great king over all the earth.

He will subject the nations to us, and

      place the people under our feet.

He will choose a heritage for us: the      pride

of Jacob, whom he loved.

     God is lifted up in praise, and the Lord

     with the sound of trumpets.

Alleluia

 

Symphonic Synthesis

David DeBoor Canfield


The music of David DeBoor Canfield has been heard on four continents, and has been performed by some of the world’s most accomplished soloists, including saxophonists Kenneth Tse, Claude Delangle and retired Senior Chief Musician Timothy Roberts, violinists Andrés Cárdenas and Rachel Patrick, pianists David Brunell and Benjamin Boren, as well as orchestras and wind ensembles such as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and the United States Navy Band.  Canfield was born in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Sept. 23, 1950. Early musical studies were with his father, John Canfield, and graduate studies in composition were undertaken at Indiana University, where Canfield studied primarily with John Eaton. These led to his being awarded a Master of Music in 1977 and a Doctor of Music in 1983.  The music of Canfield has won numerous accolades including first place at the Jill Sackler Composition Contest and the Dean’s Prize from Indiana University, and his work was featured in a three-day festival given by the faculty and students of the University of Central Oklahoma at Edmond. In addition to his compositional activities, Canfield teaches church history and biblical theology at Clearnote Pastors College in Bloomington, Ind. His music is published by Evensong Music, Enharmonic Press and Editions Recherché, and has been recorded on the Crystal, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, Enharmonic, MSR and Recherché labels.
                           
            In recent years, David DeBoor Canfield has begun writing music for wind ensemble at the encouragement of his father, John Canfield, an amateur composer himself. The younger Canfield’s works in this medium include his “Symphony No. 3,” “Retrospective,” and concerto for alto saxophone entitled “Martyrs for the Faith,” and others.
             
            “Symphonic Synthesis” was begun on June 9, 2010, and completed 12 days later. It was originally written as a work for high school band, entitled “The Snipe Hunt.”  The present version, more advanced in its technical demands, was reworked for collegiate or professional ensembles, and bears a dedication to Lt. Cmdr. Richard H. Bailey and the United States Navy Band, which premiered the work on April 29, 2011.  The work is written to synthesize different moods and instrumental colors in the contemporary symphonic wind ensemble.  One hears the juxtaposition of classical and jazz, tonal and atonal (including the 12-tone row heard in the opening bass clarinet solo), and spiky rhythmic passages interspersed with chorales and other calmer sections.
             

At the Summit (Auf dem Gipfel) from Ein Alpensinfonie

Richard Strauss (trans. MU1 David J. Miller)

German composer/conductor Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was one of the most prominent and influential musicians of the late romantic and early modern era.  As well as being a prolific composer of operas and lieder, he is widely credited with pioneering the form of the orchestral tone-poem, a highly virtuosic and often programmatic work that is generally contained in one single movement.  Among his best-known pieces in this genre are “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks,”Death and Transfiguration” and “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (which was famously put to use as the opening theme in Stanley Kubrik’s “2001, A Space Odyssey”).   It is the very last of these tone poems, “Ein Alpensinfonie” (An Alpine Symphony), which is included on this recording.  Strauss’ original concept of this work was as a traditional four-movement symphony.  However, after many false starts and revisions, it was completed in 1915 as a tone poem of 22 uninterrupted scenes, depicting a single day (from dawn to nightfall) of mountain climbing.  The result is a monumental and sweeping orchestral tour-de-force, tone-painting on a truly grand scale.  Strauss employs vertiginous diving passages of two octaves or more to evoke stunning valleys, and one can envision fierce struggle in the grinding, note-by-note ascent to the peak, where

MU1 David Miller
MU1 David Miller

at last the horn section signals ultimate triumph.  Trombonist and arranger Musician 1st Class David Miller has selected three of these scenes to transcribe, “Auf dem Gletscher” (On the Glacier), “Gefahrvolle Augenblicke” (Perilous Moments) and “Auf dem Gipfel” (At the Summit).  Miller’s treatment captures the depth and tremendous scope of Strauss’s work, and presents the ensemble with an array of musical and technical challenges.  This arrangement was undertaken in part to pay tribute to Miller’s colleague, retired Senior Chief Musician Mike Cizek, bass trombonist with the Concert Band for 26 years, and was premiered on Cizek’s final concert with the band in December 2010.


Eternal Father, Strong to Save

John B. Dykes
Sea Chanters Chorus

We end this recording as we began, by paying tribute to those Navy flyers, past and present, who have courageously patrolled the skies for the last 100 years.  “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” based on a poem by William Whiting and set to music by John B. Dykes in 1861, has long been associated with both the United States and British Royal Navy, and has come to be known as the “Navy Hymn.”  It is often performed at funerals and other solemn occasions, and over the years new verses have been written to acknowledge specific occupations within the military.  There are currently stanzas recognizing SEALs, doctors, and even astronauts.  Fittingly, the verse included here honors all the men and women associated with naval aviation, and we offer it in respect and gratitude for the past 100 years, as well as hopeful anticipation of the next 100.

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky,
Be with them always in the air,
In dark’ning storms or sunlight fair.
O, hear us when we lift our prayer
For those in peril in the air.

 

- Liner Notes written by Musician 1st Class Andrew J. Skaggs

 

 

Contact


For more information about Navy Band compact discs, contact public affairs at navyband.public.affairs@navy.mil.