Morning Glories: Back to school with wind band repertoire

September 9, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Every weekday morning at 10 a.m., the hosts at Classical MPR play a standout work based on the theme for the week. We call them Morning Glories.

Wind band music — that is, compositions for large ensembles without string instruments — may be a bit neglected on the radio, but it holds a special place in many a brass or woodwind player's heart.

As part of Back to School Month on Classical MPR, we'll hear five of the most beloved works in wind band repertoire, to encourage the kids who are just learning their first scales and inspire everyone else to dust off those old horns.

Monday

Darius Milhaud: Suite Francaise

United States Air Force Band; Capt. Philip Chevallard, conductor

Milhaud wrote Suite Francaise expressly for high school students, after identifying a need for moderately difficult contemporary band music by leading composers.

Tuesday

Eric Whitacre: Ghost Train Triptych

North Texas Wind Symphony; Eugene Corporon, conductor

As a recently developed genre, there isn't as much music for wind band as there is for orchestra or piano. As a result, composers have found wind bands to be enthusiastic in embracing new works. One example is Eric Whitacre's first composition for wind orchestra, Ghost Train, whose success encouraged Whitacre to become a full-time composer.

Wednesday

David Maslanka: A Child's Garden of Dreams

Dallas Wind Symphony; Jerry Junkin, conductor

David Maslanka is best known for his compositions for wind ensemble, which showcase the ensemble's ability to express a huge range of emotion. A Child's Garden of Dreams is based on a case study in Carl Jung's Man and His Symbols about a young girl's extraordinary dreams.

Thursday

Paul Hindemith: Symphony in B-flat

University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony

One of the first major works written specifically for wind band, Hindemith's Symphony might not be as popular today as it was decades ago. The success of this piece, with Hindemith's distinctive harmonization and innovative instrumentation, encouraged other composers of the era to seriously consider writing for wind ensembles.

Friday

Percy Grainger: Lincolnshire Posy

Eastman Wind Ensemble; Frederick Fennell, conductor

Grainger's music helped establish the wind band movement in America, giving ensembles something to play beyond transcriptions of orchestral favorites and Sousa marches. Lincolnshire Posy has been a mainstay of wind band repertoire since its composition in 1937.

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