Now comes another fascinating, engaging concert from the UCSB Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Paul Bambach, at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall (Music Building).
The program, conducted by Bambach and his graduate assistant, Amanda Kritzberg, explores the concert band and wind chamber literature from its origins, its prehistory, its growth spurts, its glorious present and its limitless future.
We’ll hear Percy Grainger’s wind setting of the reel, Molly on the Shore; Darius Milhaud’s Suite Française; Charles Gounod’s Petite Symphonie pour neuf instruments à vent (Little Symphony for Nine Woodwinds); Vincent Persichetti’s Bagatelles for Band; Michael Markowski’s Shadow Rituals (winner of the first Frank Ticheli Composition Contest Award); and some pieces by Frank Ticheli himself, including his Gershwin-esque Blue Shades.
Grainger (1882-1961) was an Australian-born composer, arranger and pianist. He was a key player, along with Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst, in the revival of interest in British folk music around 1900. Though he left his native land when he was 13, studied music in Germany and settled in London for a decade before moving to the United States, where he spent the remainder of his life, he always considered himself an Australian composer, who composed “in the hopes of bringing honor and fame to my native land.” The Australians certainly are very proud of him.
Mihaud, who spent his years of purgatory teaching in a Midwestern college, wrote his Suite Francaise in 1944, just after D-Day.
He said of this composition: “For a long time I have had the idea of writing a composition fit for high school purposes and this was the result. In the bands, orchestras, and choirs of American high schools, colleges and universities where the youth of the nation be found, it is obvious that they need music of their time, not too difficult to perform, but, nevertheless keeping the characteristic idiom of the composer. The five parts of this Suite are named after French Provinces, the very ones in which the American and Allied armies fought together with the French underground of the liberation of my country: Normandy, Brittany, Ile-de-France (of which Paris is the center), Alsace-Lorraine, and Provence (my birthplace). I used some folk tunes of these provinces. I wanted the young American to hear the popular melodies of those parts of France where their fathers and brothers fought to defeat the German invaders, who in less than seventy years have brought war, destruction, cruelty, torture, and murder, three times, to the peaceful and democratic people of France.”
Ticheli is a great American composer, and I owe my appreciation of him almost completely to Bambach and his wonderful band.
Tickets to the concert are $15 for general admission and $7 for students, and are available at the door. Call 805.893.7001 for more information.