The creation of new music for symphonic band has been a major part of the history of the City of Fairfax Band. The band’s 50th anniversary season opens with a special program dedicated to music written for and premiered by Fairfax Band. Composed by some of America’s most noted composers and representing a wide array of styles, many of these works have found their way into the standard literature and are being performed by concert bands worldwide. A major feature of the October 26 program is the world premiere of the latest work commissioned by the City of Fairfax Band, titled A Southern Jubilee, by legendary Hollywood film composer Bruce Broughton. Other works on the program are David Uber’s Overture for Symphonic Band, Samuel Laudenslager Sr.’s City of Fairfax Band March, Travis Cross’s And the Grass Sings in the Meadows, Mark Camphouse’s Foundation, and Ira Hearshen’s ballroom dance suite, Aragon: 1945-1952.
City of Fairfax Band March. Samuel Laudenslager Sr. was a Pennsylvania musician, music educator, arranger, and composer whose enthusiasm for band music, and specially for band marches, found expression in memorable ways. His arrangements of famous Sousa marches adapted for school bands are still in print. His son Sam Laudenslager Jr. for many years was a member of the City of Fairfax Band and leader of the Alte Kamaraden German band. Sam Sr. had special affection for the City of Fairfax Band, to whom he dedicated this eponymous march.
Overture For Symphonic Band, Op. 364 (David Uber, 1921-2007). Dr. David Uber was a prominent American composer whose works for brasses, woodwinds, and percussion are played extensively throughout the world. His colorful career in music ranged from award-winning composer to world class trombonist, from college professor to band director. Major performing artists, corporations, and universities – and the City of Fairfax Band – have commissioned works by David Uber. He served 4 years in the United States Navy Band before continuing his studies at Columbia University, where he obtained his Master of Arts and Doctor of Education degrees. He played first-chair trombone with the New York City Ballet Orchestra, the New York City Opera Orchestra, and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. He published more than 400 musical works, including A Fairfax Overture, which was commissioned by the City of Fairfax Band in 1997 and premiered by Fairfax Band under the baton of Robert Pouliot on April 26 of that year. The piece was published under the title Overture for Symphonic Band.
Foundation (Mark Camphouse, 1954 – ). Composer-conductor Mark Camphouse was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1954 and received his formal musical training (B.M., M.M.) at Northwestern University. He began composing at an early age, with the Colorado Philharmonic premiering his First Symphony when he was 17. His works for concert band have received widespread critical acclaim and are performed frequently throughout the USA and abroad. Engagements as a guest conductor, lecturer, and clinician have taken him to 36 states, Canada, and Europe. Mr. Camphouse is an elected member of the American Bandmasters Association and serves as conductor of the National Band Association’s Young Mentor Project. He is a full-time faculty member at George Mason University. Foundation (2006) is not only a significant addition to the concert band repertoire, but also a work of special importance to the City of Fairfax Band. The piece was commissioned as a memorial to the late Ray Abell, long-time Fairfax Band president. Ray Abell was an extremely important part of the band and the local community. His leadership was vital to the band’s continuity and to its continued record of success during the transitional period following the retirement of Dr. Thomas Hill as music director in 1993. Ray and his wife Sharyl Abell received official recognition from the City of Fairfax for their many years of volunteer service to the community through their work with the City of Fairfax Band. After Ray’s death in December 2002, a special Ray Abell Memorial Fund was created at the request of members of his family, including his daughter, who still participates actively in the band. Through private donations to the memorial fund and a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the City of Fairfax Band was able to commission this special new work for symphonic band in Ray’s memory. The piece was titled by the composer. As melodic material it draws on two of Ray Abell’s favorite hymn tunes: How Firm a Foundation and Be Still My Soul.
And the Grass Sings in the Meadows (Travis J. Cross, 1977- ). When the City of Fairfax Band obtained grant support to commission a promising young Virginia composer to write an original work for concert band, attention quickly turned to the conductor of Virginia Tech’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Travis J. Cross, whose musicianship was well known to members of Fairfax Band’s board of directors. (Maestro Cross has since moved on to the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA, where he conducts the Wind Ensemble, directs the graduate wind conducting program, and chairs the music department.) Travis Cross completed doctoral coursework at Northwestern University, Evanston IL, where he studied with Mallory Thompson. He previously earned the Bachelor of Music degree cum laude in vocal and instrumental music education from St. Olaf College, Northfield MN, and the Master of Music degree in conducting from Northwestern. His original works and arrangements for band, choir, and orchestra are published by Boosey & Hawkes, Daehn Publications, and Theodore Music. And the Grass Sings in the Meadows evokes the musical moods of springtime, as reflected poetically in the closing stanza of the Spring Carol by Scottish poet Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).
So when the earth is alive with gods,
And the lusty ploughman breaks the sod,
And the grass sings in the meadows,
And the flowers smile in the shadows,
Sits my heart at ease,
Hearing the song of the leas,
Singing the songs of the meadows.
A Southern Jubilee (Bruce Broughton, 1945 – ). Bruce Broughton is best known for his many motion picture scores, including Silverado, Tombstone, The Rescuers Down Under, The Presidio, Miracle on 34th Street, the Homeward Bound adventures, and Harry and the Hendersons. His television themes include The Orville, JAG, Steven Spielberg’s Tiny Toon Adventures, and Dinosaurs – in addition to TV scores ranging from mini-series like Texas Rising and The Blue and the Gray to TV movies (Warm Springs, O Pioneers!), plus countless episodes of TV series such as Dallas, Quincy, Hawaii Five-O, and How the West Was Won. With 24 nominations, Broughton has won a record 10 Emmy awards. His Silverado score was Oscar-nominated, and his score to Young Sherlock Holmes was nominated for a Grammy. His music has accompanied Disney theme park attractions around the world, and his score for Heart of Darkness was the first recorded orchestral score for a video game. Broughton’s concert works have been performed by the Cleveland Orchestra; the Chicago, Seattle and National Symphonies; the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; the Sinfonia of London; and the Hollywood Bowl. Broughton has also had numerous works for chamber ensembles performed and recorded worldwide, including his Five Pieces for Piano, recorded by pianist Gloria Cheng; Excursions for Trumpet and Band, recorded by trumpet virtuoso Philip Smith; and his string quartet Fancies, recorded and commissioned by the Lyris Quartet. His most recent piece for symphonic winds is titled A Southern Jubilee, composed on commission for the City of Fairfax Band. Tonight’s performance is the world premiere.
Dance Suite – Aragon 1945-1952 (Ira Hearshen, 1948 – ). Ira Hearshen is one of America’s most popular and successful orchestrators and arrangers. He has written for many Hollywood films, such as Toy Story and The Scorpion King. He has also written for the concert stage, especially wind band, notably his Pulitzer-nominated Symphony on Themes of John Philip Sousa (1997). On commission from the City of Fairfax Band Association, Hearshen composed an original suite of concert music inspired by popular dance tunes from the heyday of Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom. Built in 1926, the Aragon Ballroom by the end of WW2 was drawing thousands of people every week. The crowds were attracted by the danceable sounds of just about every top group from the big band era. Each night, listeners throughout Midwestern USA and Canada tuned in to powerhouse radio station WGN for an hour-long program of dance music live from the Aragon stage. The music of Ira Hearshen’s Aragon 1945-1952 Dance Suiteis all original. Yet it is enriched by tantalizing hints and suggestions of unforgettable hit dance songs like “Sentimental Journey,” “Tennessee Waltz,” “Dance Ballerina Dance,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” and “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.” The premiere of Ira Hearshen’s Aragon Dance Suite was by performed by the City of Fairfax Band in 2015.
By: Alan Cole