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Command Performance (2009)

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1. Overture to "Colas Breugnon"



Dmitri Kabalevsky
trans. Donald Hunsberger

2. The Gallant Seventh



John Philip Sousa
ed. Frederick Fennell


3. Symphony No. 2

     III. Apollo Unleashed

     MUCS Michael J. Schmitz, enlisted conductor


Frank Ticheli


4. Danzon


Leonard Bernstein, arr. John Krance


5. Finale from Ballet Suite No. 3



arr. MU1 David Miller

6-10. Concerto for Soprano Sax and Wind Ensemble

      (external link)

      MUCS Timothy E. Roberts, soprano saxophone


       6.     I Prelude

       7.     II Felt

       8.     III Metal

       9.     IV Wood

     10.     V  Finale



John Mackey

11. Bluejackets on Parade



Edwin Franko Goldman

arr. Erik Leidzen

12. Overture to "The Bartered Bride"



Frederick Smetana
arr. V. F. Safranek

13. Country Gardens



Percy Grainger

14. Children's March:
      "Over the Hills and Far Away"



Percy Grainger
ed. R. Mark Rogers

15. "Adventures on Earth"
      from "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial"



John Williams
trans. Paul Lavender




Liner Notes

The tradition of a command performance dates back centuries to the monarches of Europe, and in particular Queen Elizabeth I of England. Any program that occurred at the direction or request of a reigning monarch would be deemed a command performance. These gala events featured the leading artists of the day performing works that were particular favorites of the king or queen.


The United States of America has never had a king or queen, and as we often like to say, we are your United States Navy Band. Thus it is only fitting that the selections on this recording highlight some of our most well-received pieces from our recent national concerts and tours. During our national tours, "The World's Finest" travels to communities large and small throughout our great country, playing for concertgoers from World War II veterans to our next generation of Sailors. We relisth these opportunities to bring your Navy to you, the people who support us and make what we do possible. This is your "command performance."


- Captain George N. Thompson, USN, Commanding Officer/Leader


Overture to “Colas Breugnon”

Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987), arr. Donald Hunsberger


Unlike his countryman Dmitri Shostakovich, Dmitri Kabalevsky enjoyed a relatively benign association with the Soviet regime. This is perhaps due to the many patriotic songs he composed or to his affiliation with the Communist Party, which he joined in 1940. In all probability, however, it was the light, optimistic and conservative nature of his music that kept him out of the harsh glare of Soviet critics. In addition to his vast musical output, he made many contributions in the field of childhood education, and among his most enduring works today are those written for young musicians.  Colas Breugnon, written in 1936, is a comic opera based on the 1918 novel by French author Romain Rolland. The main character, Colas, is a master wood sculptor who finds himself in an unfortunate love triangle with the local Duke. After the Duke marries Colas’ sweetheart, Selina, Colas is commissioned to sculpt a statue of the Duke himself. At the moment of unveiling, Colas has his revenge when the Duke is revealed sitting backwards on top of a donkey. The ebullient overture is a charming depiction of Colas’ indomitable spirit, and remains one of Kabalevsky’s most popular works.


The Gallant Seventh

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)


The name of John Philip Sousa is synonymous with military marches, and he is certainly deserving of the title, “March King,” the moniker to which he is often referred. Born in Washington, DC, in 1854, Sousa is most closely associated with the United States Marine Band, where his father Antonio was a trombonist. Sousa led that ensemble from 1880-1892 before leaving to form his own band, which toured the world until 1931 and performed nearly 16,000 concerts. He produced a large and varied body of work, including songs, tone poems and operettas, but is best known today for his 136 marches. Among his most popular of this genre are The Washington Post, Semper Fidelis, The Thunderer, and perennial favorite The Stars and Stripes Forever, without which no Independence Day concert would be complete.  The Gallant Seventh in that it is the only march he ever wrote that contains two breakstrains (also known as dogfight strains), the intense, marcato section that interrupts the softer trio strain. It was written in 1922 for the 7th regiment, 107th infantry of the New York National Guard and its musical leader, Major Francis Sutherland, who had previously been a cornetist in Sousa’s band.


Symphony No. 2

     III. Apollo Unleashed

Frank Ticheli (b. 1958)


Frank Ticheli has emerged as one of the most important musical figures of his generation and has established himself as a leading proponent of new music for concert band. His music has been performed by the finest orchestras and bands around the world, and he maintains a strong working relationship the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, where he was composer-in-residence from 1991-1998. He currently teaches composition at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. Ticheli’s second symphony was written in 2003 and dedicated to Florida State University director of bands James E. Croft on the occasion of his retirement.  Each of the work’s three movements bears a title referring to celestial light:“Shooting Stars,” “Dreams Under a New Moon” and “Apollo Unleashed.” The movement represented on this recording, “Apollo Unleashed,” takes as its inspiration the ancient god of the sun, and Ticheli skillfully depicts the hurtling of Apollo’s chariot across the sun’s radiant brilliance. The movement, composed in what Mr. Ticheli describes as “quasi sonata form,” is constructed around a four-note scalar motif, as well as well as a harmonic structure based on the dominant seventh chord with the tonic added.  “Apollo Unleashed” is characterized by blazing speed and shimmering tonal colors, at the heart of which is a quotation from J.S. Bach’s chorale, Wer Gott Vertraut, hat wohl gebaut (BWV 433), a favorite of Dr. Croft.


Danzon from Fancy Free

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)


Many Americans probably encountered classical music for the first time through Leonard Bernstein's“Young People's Concerts” with the New York Philharmonic, broadcast between 1962 and 1972. The iconic American composer, conductor and performer spent much of his career blurring the line between so-called "popular" and "serious" music. He wrote symphonies and choral works, but also musical comedies and jazz-influenced chamber music, and is perhaps best known for the Tony Award-winning musical West Side Story. Like that show, the ballet Fancy Free was a collaboration between Bernstein and choreographer Jerome Robbins. Written in 1944, it tells the story of three sailors on leave trying to impress two girls. A dance contest is proposed consisting of a galop, waltz and danzon, with the loser going home alone. While the sailors argue over which is the best dancer, a fistfight breaks out and both girls leave, unnoticed.


Finale from Ballet Suite No. 3


Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), arr. MU1 David Miller


Dmitri Shostakovich was one of the most successful composers of the Soviet era, despite having his music banned by the government on multiple occasions. A child prodigy, his early work shows traces of Stravinsky and Prokofiev, two giants of Russian music in the early 20th century. He went on to develop his own compositional style in a prolific career including 15 symphonies (and an unfinished 16th), numerous works for chamber ensembles, operas and ballets, as well as nearly 40 film scores. The piece represented here, Galop from the ballet The Limpid Stream, shows the more exuberant side of Shostakovich’s personality.  Galop is raucous and unrelenting, and in this arrangement by the Navy Band’s own Musician 1st Class David Miller, each section of the ensemble is challenged and featured.


Concerto for Soprano Sax and Wind Ensemble

John Mackey (b. 1973)


John Mackey, born October 1, 1973, in New Philadelphia, Ohio, holds a master’s degree from the Juilliard School and a bachelor’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. His teachers have included John Corigliano and Donald Erb. Despite his relative youth, he has amassed an impressive body of work which has been performed around the world to great acclaim. Mackey has written music for theater, band and orchestra. Even the U.S. Olympic Synchronized Swim Team, which won a bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, performed to his score, Damn. The recipient of numerous awards and grants, including several ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards and the Walter Beeler Memorial Composition Prize, Mackey is the youngest composer ever to be honored with the ABA/Ostwald Award from the American Bandmasters Association. He has served as composer-in-residence at the Vail Valley Music Festival and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, and has held college residencies at Florida State, Michigan, Southern California, Texas, Arizona State, among many others.


His Concerto for Soprano Sax and Wind Ensemble was commissioned by a consortium of wind ensembles, including the U.S. Navy Band. The band’s first performance of the entire concerto took place at the 2008 International Saxophone Symposium with Senior Chief Musician Timothy Roberts as soloist. The piece is divided into five movements. The “Prelude” and “Finale” surround three inner movements, each subtitled after the different physical materials that make up the instrument (“Felt” for the keypads, “Metal” for the body, and “Wood” for the reed). 


The opening “Prelude” starts the piece off quite literally with a bang, and goes on to introduce the thematic material that will comprise the following movements. “Felt” is a dazzling display of virtuosity, featuring many fast runs and incorporating several idiosyncratic saxophone techniques such as pitch-bending and alternate fingering. The third movement, “Metal,” explores the upper range of the instrument in a calm, lyrical melody accompanied by brass and percussion. “Wood,” scored for bass, piano, harp, marimba and woodwinds, is a tango, a reference to the composer’s Redline Tango, the piece which prompted the commissioning of this concerto. In the “Finale,” Mackey pays homage to John Corigliano in a quote from the latter’s Concerto for Clarinet.  After the opening quote, Mackey proceeds to test the soloist with a staggering array of technical and musical demands.


Senior Chief Roberts adds that this is “one of the greatest new American concerti written for the saxophone since Dahl.” Mackey has written the piece in a style that he hopes that 10-15 years from now, saxophone students will still feel that it is “the most challenging concerto there is to learn”. To listen to the Navy Band's performance of this piece, follow this link to John Mackey's website.


Bluejackets on Parade

Edwin Franko Goldman (1878-1956)


Along the Hollywood Walk of Fame is a star dedicated to American composer and bandleader Edwin Franko Goldman. Though his work is little known today, during his lifetime he achieved worldwide acclaim and made innumerable contributions to the musical community, most notably founding the American Bandmasters Association, which have had a lasting impact. Goldman was born in Kentucky on January 1, 1878, and moved, with his mother and three siblings, to New York City in 1887. His mother, Selma Franko Goldman, had been a professional pianist and young Edwin began taking cornet lessons at the age of nine. As a professional trumpeter, Goldman performed with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (where his uncle, Nahan Franko, was concertmaster), and in 1911 founded the New York Military Band. This ensemble would go on to achieve great fame as the Goldman Band and was featured on many national radio broadcasts during the 1930s and 1940s. In addition to his duties as performer, bandleader and administrator, Goldman found the time to compose over 150 works, the most famous being marches such as On the Mall and Chimes of Liberty. Bluejackets on Parade is Goldman’s salute to Sailors, and includes a setting of the sea chantey, “Sailing, Sailing, Over the Bounding Main.”


Overture to “The Bartered Bride”

Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884), arr. V.F. Safranek


Widely considered the father of Czech music, Bedrich Smetana in fact did not even learn to speak his native language until late in life, having grown up in the German-speaking Hapsburg Empire. Today he is best known for his symphonic cycle Ma Vlast (“My Fatherland”), a musical portrait of the history, landscape and legends of the Czech countryside. The composer dedicated the cycle to the city of Prague. The year 1866 saw the premiere of Smetana’s comic opera, The Bartered Bride, which tells the story of a young peasant who outwits a scheming marriage broker in order to win the hand of his true love. Initially met with a lukewarm reception, after multiple revisions the opera has become a staple of the genre, as well as an important landmark in the history of Czech music. The overture was composed almost entirely before any music for the opera was written, and contains little material from the opera itself. Instead, it sets the mood for the piece by drawing upon the rhythms and gestures of Czech folk music. Described as “a tour de force of the genre, wonderfully spirited and wonderfully crafted” by professor and Czech music expert John Tyrrell, the overture is frequently performed in concert settings.


Country Gardens/Children's March: "Over the Hills and Far Away"

Percy Aldridge Grainger (1882-1961)


Percy Grainger was born in Brighton, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, and began showing signs of a prodigious musical talent early in his childhood. As a composer he experimented with unusual techniques such as striking the strings inside a piano with a wooden mallet, and was an early advocate of aleatoric or “chance” music, a field which would later be explored by the pioneering John Cage in the 1960s. In 1914 Grainger emigrated to the United States, where he performed in an Army Band as an oboist and would later become a naturalized citizen. Many of the works he composed for band during this period have gone on to become standard repertoire, and his music remains immensely popular to this day. Among his more well-known compositions are Lincolnshire Posy, Shepherd’s Hey, Country Gardens and the nearly ubiquitous Irish Tune from County Derry. Children’s March was composed in 1919 and premiered by the Goldman Band. In this piece, Grainger concentrates heavily on the lower-pitched instruments of the band, featuring the bassoon, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone and English horn in prominent roles. The dedication, “to my playmate beyond the hills,” is believed to be a reference to Karen Holton, with whom the composer maintained a long-distance romance for eight years.

“Adventures on Earth” fromE.T., the Extra-Terrestrial

John Williams (b. 1932)

Of all American composers, perhaps none have achieved a wider appeal than John Williams, whose music is instantly recognizable to millions of moviegoers worldwide. Having written over 100 film scores, including such blockbusters as Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws and the Harry Potter series, Williams has more Academy Award nominations than anyone in history other than Walt Disney. The filmmaker Steven Spielberg has been associated with Williams for over three decades, and in 1982 they collaborated on the now classic movie E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial. Spielberg has said that he was so impressed by “Adventures on Earth,” that for the only time in his career, he re-shot the end of the film to match the music rather than edit even one note of Williams’ score.


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



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