New American Voices
March 13, 2022

Program Notes:

Galactic Voyage
Kevin Day

American composer Kevin Day hails from Arlington, Texas, and has compiled a portfolio of over 150 compositions that often intersect between the worlds of jazz, minimalism, Latin music, fusion, and contemporary classical idioms. His works have been programmed by the Boston Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony, the United States Coast Guard Band, and more. His work Galactic Voyage was written in 2018 as a concert band work that takes the listener on an interstellar trip across the cosmos. Day writes:

“The work portrays different aspects of what someone may see in space, such as shooting stars, comets, and planets, and gives the listener a sense of the vast sphere of what we already know and the unknown that has yet to be discovered. There are ‘wormholes’ that represent each new section of the piece and portray different worlds or places that the voyager would encounter, which I will leave up to the imagination of the listener. Every section of the band gets their moment to shine in this piece. …I was and am a sci-fi geek, and so the piece is influenced by Star Trek, Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Doctor Who, and other sci-fi shows and movies I have enjoyed over the years. The piece was commissioned by Jonathan Schiffler, director of bands at Dominion High School in Sterling, VA, for the students of the Dominion High School Wind Symphony.”


Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble
Frank Ticheli
Soloist: Musician 1st Class Christopher Howard, Clarinet

Musician 1st Class Chris Howard joined the Coast Guard Band in July 2006 as a member of the Band’s clarinet section. Throughout his Coast Guard Band career, MU1 Howard has performed multiple times as featured concerto soloist and has served in every role within the clarinet section. Before his tenure with the Coast Guard Band, MU1 Howard served as principal clarinetist and concertmaster with the U.S. Navy Band Northwest in Seattle, WA. He is a received the 2015 Sam Hasty Award for Service in the Coast Guard Band and the 2012 Col. Finley R. Hamilton Outstanding Military Musician Award. He lives in Glastonbury, CT with his wife Kacey and children Benjamin and Caroline.

About the Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble, composer Frank Ticheli writes:

“I had been hoping to compose a clarinet concerto for years, and so I was delighted when a commission offer came my way from Swedish-American clarinetist Hakan Rosengren. His fiery virtuosity, combined with his poignantly beautiful sound, had a direct influence on my creative decisions throughout the work. The Concerto’s three movements are composed as tributes to three 20th-century American icons: George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein.

The first movement, “Rhapsody for George,” (after a wink to the famous clarinet solo – with thanks to the Gershwin estate for approving this) is built largely from chromatic, jazzy, relentless flurries of 16th notes, volleyed back and forth between the soloist and the ensemble. This high-speed game is intensified by a walking bass line, jazzy syncopations, and heavy backbeats that come and go at will. The second movement, “Song for Aaron,” evokes the gentle, open-aired quality sometimes heard in Copland's slow movements. If the listener notices a song-like quality here, it may be because it was originally composed for voice (An American Dream, for soprano and orchestra, mvt. 6). Thus, this movement is an adaptation of my earlier work, but altered significantly to suit the unique lyrical traits of the clarinet.

While composing the final movement, “Riffs for Lenny,” I imagined Bernstein perched on a pulpit (a podium?), 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. Like the opening movement, Riffs for Lenny is somewhat jazzy, but now in a more, sultry, gospel-like manner. It swoons, sighs, seduces, and then suddenly takes off in double-time, dancing all the way.”


Meera Gudipati

United States Coast Guard Band co-principal flute Musician 1 st Class Meera Gudipati joined the Band in January 2018 after serving as the acting principal flute for the New Haven Symphony from 2015-2017. She can be heard on Hyperion Records’ recording of Johannes Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem conducted by David Hill. Prior to the Coast Guard Band, MU1 Gudipati was a fellow at the National Repertory Orchestra, National Orchestral
Institute, Brevard Music Festival, Oberstdorfer Musikakademie, Académie Internationale d’Eté de Nice, and Round Top Festival Orchestra.

This concert marks the world premiere of MU1 Gudipati’s new work for band entitled Bhāgālu. Bhāgālu is the Telugu word for “halves.” In Indian classical music, a raag (or raga) is a melodic framework for improvisation. It is a unique and central feature of the classical Indian music tradition, and while it has no direct correlation to classical European/Western music, it is similar to western melodic modes. Generally, each raag is an array of melodic structures with musical motifs, considered in the Indian tradition to have the ability to “color the mind” and affect the emotions of the audience, and each raag traditionally has an emotional significance and symbolic associations with (for example) season, time, and mood. Hundreds of raga are recognized in the classical tradition, one of which is the Raag Bhairav, a rich and ancient raag associated with morning. MU1 Gudipati writes: “Bhāgālu draws upon my biracial South Asian heritage through the palette of Raag Bhairav…It emphasizes the half step relations of flat supertonic to tonic and flat submediant to dominant. The prominence of half-steps throughout the piece creates tension while enriching the music with vibrant harmony.”


The Gallant Seventh
John Philip Sousa

It is amazing that this march, regarded as one of Sousa’s finest and certainly one of his most vigorous, was composed while he was recuperating from a broken neck. The march takes its title from the 7th Regiment, 107th Infantry, of the New York National Guard, whose history may be traced back to the Civil War. The conductor of the famous 7th Regiment Band was Major Francis Sutherland, a former Sousa Band cornetist. Upon America’s entry into World War I, Sutherland left his position with Sousa to enlist in the Army; he was made a bandmaster in the U.S. Field Artillery. Several other Sousa men then secured their release to enlist, some for service with Sutherland’s band. Sutherland did not return to the Sousa Band at the war’s end; he accepted the position of bandmaster of the 7th Regiment. The regiment’s commanding officer, Colonel Wade H. Hayes, made a formal request of Sousa for a march. Sousa obliged, paying tribute to the organizational ability and professional standing of one of his band’s alumni. For the official
send-off of the new march at the New York Hippodrome on November 5, 1922, Sutherland’s 7th Regiment Band augmented the Sousa Band on stage. Although no less than seven other composers had also written marches for this regiment, Sousa’s was the only one to gain wide acceptance, and Sousa was named honorary bandmaster of the regiment. Many years later, Sutherland repaid his debt to Sousa in an appropriate way. He was one of eight founders of the living Sousa memorial known as the Sousa Band Fraternal Society.

-Program note from “John Philip Sousa: A Descriptive Catalog of His Works” by Paul Bierley.


Masquerade Variations on a Theme of Prokofiev
Stephen Michael Gryc

Connecticut-based composer Stephen Michael Gryc has written for every type of western instrument and ensemble from duo to large orchestra. His works for flute and for trumpet have served as contest pieces for several international performance competitions. His music has been performed by a diverse group of ensembles such as the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble, the American Brass Quintet, the Avalon String Quartet, the Cascadian Chorale, the United States Marine Band, the United States Coast Guard Band, and the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as at over two hundred colleges and universities worldwide.

His instrumental expertise has brought him commissions from some of the world’s leading soloists. Works like Masquerade Variations on a Theme of Prokofiev illustrate his compositional success through intimate understanding of the technique of instruments and the imaginative use of instrumental color, both hallmarks of his music. Masquerade Variations was written in 1997 and commissioned by the New Mexico Wind Symphony, and is based on the second piece from Fugitive Visions, a work comprised of twenty short piano pieces written by the young Sergei Prokofiev in 1915-17. Intrigued by the contrasting elements and moods in this short piece, Gryc expands upon Prokofiev’s original theme and has created a truly dynamic work that includes five variations in various musical styles and showcases multiple soloists, fanfares, and section features.