The UCSB Wind Ensemble, under the genial, insightful direction of Paul Bambach, will perform a concert of mostly American works in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall at 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $15 general admission and $7 for students, and will be available at the door.
A “wind ensemble” is — in most respects — the same thing as a concert band, and Bambach’s program draws heavily, perforce, on the literature written or arranged for the latter ensemble. Thursday evening’s audience will hear crisp, exciting performances of Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” Norman Dello Joio’s “Variants on a Mediaeval Tune,” Clifton Williams’ “Festival,” Derek Bourgeois’ “Perchance to Dream,” Frank Ticheli’s “Sanctuary,” and P.D.Q. Bach’s “Six Contrary Dances.”
Most concert-goers will be well-acquainted with Copland and his “Fanfare,” but they are likely to be gradually less familiar with the succeeding composers and works until the last, for they will have at least heard of Peter Schickele’s comic alter ego, P.D.Q. Bach, who — like Merlin in T. H. White’s Once and Future King — lived through time backward.
Norman Dello Joio, who turned 95 on Jan. 24, is a very great American composer, who writes extremely accessible music in a variety of forms. Probably the largest audience that ever heard his music — though remaining ignorant of his name — was made up of viewers of the 1957 documentary television series, Air Power. Dello Joio’s gorgeous score was surpassed in popularity only by Richard Rodgers’s “Victory at Sea.”
Clifton Williams Jr. (1923-1976) was born in Arkansas. He was a professional horn player — San Antonio and New Orleans Symphony Orchestras — and also served in the Army Air Corps band as a drum major, composing in his spare time. At the Eastman School of Music, he studied with Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson. His early compositions were symphonic, but he later switched to composing for concert bands, achieving great success.
Frank Ticheli (born in 1958) is also Southern born and bred, although he currently lives in Los Angeles, where he is a composition professor at USC. While he has written orchestral, choral, chamber and concert band works, his fame rests almost exclusively on the last category. After John Phillip Sousa, he is known to be the second most performed composer of music for concert band.
Derek Bourgeois (born in 1941) is English. Educated at Cambridge University, he spent two years at the Royal College of Music studying composition with Herbert Howells and conducting with Sir Adrian Boult. He is famous for his compositions for brass band and wind band, many of which serve as test pieces in the highest level of band competition.