Uplifting Voices
January 16, 2022

Program Notes:

Fanfare for the Common Man
Aaron Copland

On December 7, 1941, the attack at Pearl Harbor forced a theretofore reluctant United States into World War II. This giant war would become the most widespread and destructive conflict in human history and required participation from nearly every part of American society—including artists, filmmakers, and musicians. In early 1942, Eugene Goossens, conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony, commissioned eighteen fanfares by eighteen different composers. He explained “it is my idea to make these fanfares stirring and significant contributions to the war effort.” There are many famous names among that list of eighteen; Darius Milhaud, William Grant Still, Virgil Thomson, Morton Gould, Howard Hanson contributed, respectively, Fanfares for Liberte, American Heroes, France, Freedom, and the Signal Corps. Instead of showcasing a military branch or an ally, however, the most
famous and lasting of these fanfares surprised Goossens when he first learned the title: Fanfare for the Common Man. Aaron Copland envisioned bringing honor to “the common man, who, after all, was doing all the dirty work in the war and in the army.”


American Overture for Band
Joseph Wilcox Jenkins

American Overture was the first work for band by Joseph Wilcox Jenkins, who was at the time twenty-five years old and working in his first military stint as an arranger for the U.S. Army Field Band. He chose to highlight the French horn section, who leads the core sound of the band throughout the work, but every section in the band gets the spotlight in this high-energy expression of bold American optimism. The score was slightly expanded from its original instrumentation (which matched the personnel of the Field Band at the time) at the request of the American Bandmaster’s Association in 2003. It remains one of Jenkins’s most popular works, and in his words he was “hard-pressed to duplicate its success.”


Distant Land
John Rutter, arr. Noble

Distant Land was originally written in 1991 as a choral piece inspired by the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. Composer John Rutter was encouraged to make a purely orchestral version, from which the band arrangement has been adapted. Distant Land has become a tribute to the life of Mandela, who was a leader of the anti-apartheid movement who eventually became South Africa's first black president to be elected in a fully democratic election. Rutter says, "Listeners who know the original version may miss the texts; but looking at it another way, your imagination can be set free with no words to constrain you and tell you what the music is about."


Emblem of Freedom
Karl King

Emblem of Freedom, composed in 1910, was one of King's early marches, but it reveals considerable maturity for a young man of nineteen—in fact, King was widely quoted as saying that Emblem of Freedom is the best march he ever wrote. The work opens with a fanfare passage by the cornets and gathers momentum all the way to the trio which is calmer. At the interlude King has no mercy of the lower brass. If he could play the chromatic runs on his instrument, so could anyone else. The march is dedicated to his friend Robert D. Hamilton.



Shall We Gather
Amazing Grace
Luigi Zaninelli

In 1973, Italian-American composer Luigi Zaninelli was appointed to the music faculty as the composer-in-residence at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, a position he held until his retirement in 2009. While there, he won the 1997 Mississippi Arts and Letters Award for Three American Hymns for Soprano and Wind Ensemble. Coast Guard Band Vocalist Musician First Class Megan Weikleenget performs two of the settings —“Shall We Gather at the River” and “Amazing Grace.”


The American Dream
James A. Beckel, Jr.

American composer James A. Beckel Jr. has had his music played all over the country and received a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 1997 for his horn concerto The Glass Bead Game. His piece The American Dream is the final movement of a longer composition entitled Night Visions. Written in 1992, the work is dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. Charles O’Drobinak, and was commissioned by Price Waterhouse. The four movements of the piece are each dedicated to a different dream; apart from “The American Dream” are “Flying,” “Gates of the Unknown,” and “Vision of a Lost Friend.” The American Dream was meant to pay particular tribute to Mr. O’Drobinak in his success as CEO of Price Waterhouse, and the idea that any individual in America has the opportunity to pursue and achieve their dreams and aspirations.


Hail to the Spirit of Liberty
John Philip Sousa

In 1900, John Philip Sousa and his band performed at the Paris Exposition. Sousa was a great patriot and relished the opportunity to represent his country at such a significant international event. In addition, this was the very first overseas tour for the Sousa Band, and the group was welcomed with tremendous enthusiasm across Europe. During the Paris Exposition, an impressive statue of Major General the Marquis de Lafayette was unveiled on July 4, 1900. The monument was presented “on behalf of the children of the United States” and depicted Lafayette on horseback offering his sword in support of the Americans during the Revolutionary War. For the unveiling, the statue was draped in an enormous American flag. Sousa composed Hail to the Spirit of Liberty specifically for the grand occasion.


First Suite in Eb
Gustav Holst

English composer Gustav Holst was forty years old when the war broke out, and after attempting to enlist was rejected as unfit for military service, which frustrated him. Friends and family were surrounded by the war: his wife became an ambulance driver, his brother Emil and his close friend Ralph Vaughan Williams did their parts on active service in France, and Holst’s composer friends George Butterworth and Cecil Coles were killed in battle. The war even prompted Holst to alter his surname when he was finally offered a position allowing him to assist in the war effort; he was appointed the YMCA’s musical organizer for the Near East, but only after he changed his original name of “von Holst” which the YMCA considered too Germanic-looking. Before all this, though, in 1909, Holst completed the manuscript for his First Suite for Military Band in Eb. Of all the seminal works by British composers for concert band, this is probably the cornerstone. Holst’s daughter Imogen, a gifted musician and author, writes that “the whole suite is superbly written for military band…. It must have been a startling change from the usual operatic selections…. In spite of its original approach, the Suite never breaks away from the essential traditions of the band, and the March is the sort of music that is beloved of bombardons (basses) and euphoniums. … [The] inevitable meno mosso…[was written] with the assurance of an experienced bandsman who knows exactly what the other players are going to enjoy.” The opening Chaconne theme is repeated sixteen times and is subjected to different voicings, harmonies, textural changes, accompaniments, cadence types, and inversions. Movement two, the Intermezzo, is centered around the same three-note motive, expanding it and alternating in presentation between an agitated style and a cantabile treatment. The Suite concludes with the thrilling March, opening with the again-inverted three-note motive in the brass theme before moving it later to its original shape, played by the woodwinds and lower brasses. The apex of the movement, and the work itself, is the moment at which these two themes combine, creating a thrilling, sentimental, and reflective atmosphere all at once.