UAH and Army Bands to Give Combined Performance

ragsdale-cropThe UAH Wind Ensemble and the US Army Materiel Command Band will give a joint performance on Friday, April 11 at 8 PM at First Baptist Church, 600 Governors Drive in Huntsville. UAH conductor, Dr. David Ragsdale, and AMC commander, CWO Jessie Pasqua, will present a dynamic evening of repertoire with guest conductors, Dr. David Spencer of Huntsville High School and Mr. Gary Green of the University of Miami. The program, an exhibition concert for the Alabama Bandmasters Association's All-State Band Festival will conclude with David Maslanka's epic Symphony No. 4. The complete program is as follows:

The Star Spangled Banner

Composed by Francis Scott Key and arranged especially for the UAH Wind Ensemble by UAH alum Curtis Lindsay, the National Anthem will be performed by baritone soloist, SSG Scarlett of the U.S. Army Materiel Command Band.

Fanfare and Allegro by Clifton Williams:

Fanfare and Allegro was the first composition to win the Ostwald Award for original band literature. The award was presented at the American Bandmasters Association convention in 1956. It is written in an exciting contemporary style with brilliant score. The work opens with a declamatory fanfare section which leads directly to the allegro movement. It features ostinato figures, brilliant brass, and percussion. Although rhythmically complex, the music is impressive and straightforward, and its resonance and sonority are ideally suited to the medium of the modern wind band.

Symphony No. 2 – III. "Apollo Unleashed" by Frank Tichelli

The finale, "Apollo Unleashed," is perhaps the most wide-ranging movement of the Symphony No. 2, and certainly the most difficult to convey in words. On the one hand, the image of Apollo, the powerful ancient god of the sun, inspired not only the movement's title, but also its blazing energy. Bright sonorities, fast tempos, and galloping rhythms combine to give a sense of urgency that one often expects from a symphonic finale. On the other hand, its boisterous nature is also tempered and enriched by another, more sublime force, Bach's Chorale BWV 433 (Wer Gott vertraut, hat wohl gebaut). This chorale serves as a kind of spiritual anchor, giving a soul to the gregarious foreground events. The chorale is in ternary form (ABA'). In the first half of the movement, the chorale's A and B sections are stated nobly underneath faster paced music, while the final A section is saved for the climactic ending, sounding against a flurry of 16th-notes. - Frank Ticheli

Redwood by Ryan George

"When the Collins Hill High School Band approached me about writing a piece for their head band director, who was set to retire at the end of the year, they wanted something that spoke not only to this man's love of music but also to his love for the great outdoors. I was reminded, then, of the times growing up when my family and I would go camping in Sequoia National Park and we would set up our tents among the giant redwood trees that grow in that region of California. These trees command attention with their immense stature, their size the result of years gone by and storms weathered.  And yet they exude a peaceful and subtle tranquility. This idea of ‘Powerful Tranquility’ became the cornerstone of this lyrical tone poem." - Ryan George

Symphony No. 4 by David Maslanka

“The sources that give rise to a piece of music are many and deep. It is possible to describe the technical aspects of a work – its construction principles, it orchestration – but nearly impossible to write of its soul-nature except through hints and suggestions.

The roots of Symphony No. 4 are many. The central driving force is the spontaneous rise of the impulse to shout for the joy of life. I feel it is the powerful voice of the Earth that comes to me from my adopted western Montana, and the high plains and mountains of central Idaho. My personal experience of the voice is one of being helpless and torn open by the power of the thing that wants to be expressed – the welling-up shout that cannot be denied. I am set aquiver and am forced to shout and sing. The response in the voice of the Earth is the answering should of thanksgiving, and the shout of praise.

Out of this, the hymn tune “Old Hundred,” several other hymn tunes (the Bach chorales “Only Trust in God to Guide You” and “Christ Who Makes Us Holy”), and original melodies which are hymn-like in nature, form the backbone of Symphony No. 4.

To explain the presence of these hymns, at least in part, and to hint at the life of the Symphony, I must say something about my long-time fascination with Abraham Lincoln. Carl Sandburg’s monumental Abraham Lincoln offers a picture of Lincoln in death. Lincoln’s close friend, David R. Locke, saw him in his coffin. According to Locke, his face had an expression of absolute content, of relief at having thrown off an unimaginable burden. The same expression had crossed Lincoln’s face only a few times in life; when after a great calamity, he had come to a great victory. Sandburg goes on to describe a scene from Lincoln’s journey to final rest at Springfield, Illinois. On April 28, 1865, the coffin lay on a mound of green moss and white flowers in the rotunda of the capitol building in Columbus, Ohio. Thousands of people passed by each hour to view the body. At four in the afternoon, in the red-gold of a prairie sunset, accompanied by the boom of minute guns and a brass band playing “Old Hundred,” the coffin was removed to the waiting funeral train.

For me, Lincoln’s life and death are as critical today as they were more than a century ago. He remains a model for this age. Lincoln maintained in his person the tremendous struggle of opposites raging in the country in his time. He was inwardly open to the boiling chaos, out of which he forged the framework of a new unifying idea. It wore him down and killed him, as it wore and killed the hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the Civil War, as it has continued to wear and kill by the millions up to the present day. Confirmed in the world by Lincoln was the unshakeable idea of the unity of all the human race, and by extension the unity of all life, and by further extension, the unity of all life with all matter, with all energy, and with the silent and seemingly empty and unfathomable mystery of our origins.

Out of chaos and the fierce joining of opposite comes new life and hope. From this impulse I used “Old Hundred,” known as the Doxology – a hymn of praise to God; Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow; Gloria in excelsis Deo – the mid-sizteenth century setting of Psalm 100. Psalm 100 reads in part:

                                    Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord

                                    With gladness; come before his presence with singing…Enter into

                                    His gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise: be

                                    Thankful unto him, and bless his name.

I have used Christian symbols because they are my cultural heritage, but I have tried to move through them to a depth of universal humanness, to an awareness that is not defined by religious label. My impulse through this music is to speak to the fundamental human issues of transformation and re-birth in this chaotic time.” - David Maslanka