One of the most difficult times for a band director is the sudden passing of a student. Derek Able had to face this situation in 2006 while director at Villa Rica, Georgia, High School. Mr. Able and his students commissioned me to write an original work expressing their feeling at the loss of this student. Available fromArrangers Publishing Company.
KENSINGTON STONE: MISTS OF TIME
When I started thinking about the new concert band work I was about to create for the Ninth District Georgia Music Educators Association I immediately was aware of a sense of the place where the premiere will be held but also where many if not most of the performers and audience live and work every day: near Brasstown Bald and the headwaters of the Chattahoochee river. The importance, history and beauty of the river as it grows from a small spring to a broad river, then dammed to slake the thirst of a mighty city, then released again to power its way to the sea is a story worth telling through the medium of music. I took as part of my inspiration for the music the beautiful and descriptive words of Georgia’s own poet Sydney Lanier in his class “Song of the Chattahoochee.” Lessons learned nearly fifty years ago, when my ninth grade literature teacher forced me to memorize the poem, came back to me as in my maturity I appreciate the beauty and power of those words that escaped me in my youth. Available from Arrangers Publishing Company.
A SOUTHERN HYMN: FANFARE, THEME & VARIATION
To mark the 1998 closing of historic William James Middle School in Statesboro, Georgia, band director Mrs. Kathy Frey commissioned a work to commemorate the occasion and honoring the late Dr. James, a prominent black educator in Statesboro and Bulloch County. After consulting with Dr. James' family to find out the name of his favorite hymn, the answer came back: "We Shall Overcome." The work is on several state music lists for concert band performance evaluation. Available from Arrangers Publishing Company.
In the fall of 2005 Michael Robinson, director of the Asheville, North Carolina, Community Band, approached me about a new work to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the band and honor founding director Patricia L. Garren and the charter members of the organization. After some discussion it was decided to use the great old hymn, "How Firm A Foundation," as the work's theme. The recording is by the Reinhardt University Symphonic Band, conducted by Dr. David Gregory. Available from TRN Music Publisher.
On the morning of January 28, 2014 while taking my daughter to school I heard a report on NPR news that Pete Seeger had passed away. NPR presented a tribute to him, closing with a recording of Pete singing a solo of "Wayfaring Stranger." I was touched by the performance and the beautiful simplicity of the melody and thought I should do something with that tune. Three hours later the opportunity arrived as a sudden snow storm suspended movement for three days. While the kids were busy with computer games and snowmen I worked with the tune that had been on my mind. In two days I finished the arrangement for all practical purposes other than the usual "tweaks." the way. I dedicated the piece to my dear friend Dr. David Gregory on the occasion of his retirement. Dr. Gregory conducted the premiere of the piece by the Georgia Wind Symphony in concert on June 7th, 2015. This is the recording of that performance. Wayfaring Stranger will be available summer of 2016 from TRN Music Publisher.
I'm sure most every composer with children has written a lullaby and I am no exception. From my son Joseph's first night on earth in May of 2002 I rocked him to sleep every night until he no longer needed rocking. Having been told that humming is a particularly soothing sensation to child resting on your chest I hummed some of the usual melodies and, being a musical person, started introducing my own made-up tunes. One in particular seemed to please him so I began to think of it as "Joseph's Lullaby." After lengthening it over time and adding more of an extended form I decided to arrange it for concert band. It has become a popular concert and contest selection. Available fromArrangers Publishing Company.
In 1898 a Minnesota farmer, while a digging up a tree stump on his property in the Kensington township near Alexandria, Minnesota, discovered a slab of gray stone measuring 36 inches long, 16 inches wide, and 6 inches thick. The stone contains runic writing along the face of the stone and along one edge. Runic scholars interpreted the inscription to be an account of Norse explorers in the 14th Century. The "Kensington Runestone" now resides in a museum in Alexandria, Minnesota. I chose this piece of history to serve as inspiration for a commission by the Alexandria Public Schools Music Department commemorating the centennial of the school system and dedication of a new fine arts wing at Alexandria High School. Available fromKnightWind Music Publishing.