Fall 2016 Concert Season

Steve Wottrich

Our Fall concerts highlight Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue featuring pianist Steve Wottrich.

Rhapsody in Blue

George Gershwin



Rhapsody in Blue is one of the most beloved American concert works.  It was commissioned by bandleader Paul Whiteman and completed in 1924.  Whiteman and his band, with Gershwin on piano, premiered the piece that year at a concert entitled An Experiment in Modern Music. Gershwin improvised much of the performance and didn’t write out the full piano part until afterward.  Ferde Grofé created several orchestrations of the work, including the original version for Whiteman’s band and the symphony orchestra version that is most commonly heard.  Eastman Wind Ensemble conductor Donald Hunsberger created an arrangement for a 23-piece wind band that combined the 1924 original and Grofé’s 1926 small theater orchestra version.  Our own Dan Augustine expanded on Hunsberger’s arrangement to accommodate the larger forces of ACWE.

Steve Wottrich, the organist and pianist for Covenant United Methodist Church since 2005, holds a Music Education degree from Texas A&I University, and a Master's Degree in Applied Piano at North Texas State University. Steve and his wife Bevolyn have two children, Matthew and Stephanie.

“Mars” from The Planets

Gustav Holst

MarsGustav Holst (1874 – 1934) finished The Planets in 1916, and the first complete public performance was given in 1920.  It was an instant success among critics and audiences alike and has remained enduringly popular ever since.  In addition to the concert hall, parts of it can be heard in movies and TV as well as multiple arrangements including marching bands and rock bands.

The first movement from the suite, “Mars, the Bringer of War,” is characterized by a relentless 5/4 rhythmic figure suggesting a military march that is contrasted with longer melodic tones. The melodic lines frequently do not fully resolve, further heightening the tension. The horrors of World War I would surely have been on Holst’s mind as he composed Mars. The piece presented tonight is Holst's own arrangement for concert band.

Death by Tango

Edward Fairlie

Death by Tango Inspired by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, this work makes use of the many colors and textures of the wind ensemble. The scene is set in a court room. We open with a plaintive plea for leniency from the accused alto saxophone. A voice of support is heard by a lone clarinet. The French horn provides an eyewitness account of the events. The jury considers the facts and deliberates, but it doesn't take long to reach a verdict. Guilty! The brass and flutes cry as the clarinets gossip between themselves. The sentence is Death By Tango. The doomed saxophonist has time for one more song of sorrow.

Australian composer Edward Fairlie earned a Bachelor of Music Performance (Improvisation) on trumpet from The Victorian College of the Arts in 2003. He received his Bachelor of Music Performance Honours (Composition) from the University of Melbourne in 2012. He is active as a performer, teacher,  conductor and composer/arranger.

Original Dixieland Concerto

Johnny Warrington

DixielandRather than featuring a single soloist, this work pulls a traditional Dixieland band from the ranks of the full band as the New Orleans melodies are traded back and forth. The tunes referenced in the concerto include “Ballin’ the Jack, “The Jazz Me Blues” and “Original Dixieland One Step.”

Johnny Warrington was a prolific arranger, particularly for big bands and other pop music forms around the mid-twentieth century. He created a number of musical works based on Dixieland music. In addition, he was the band leader and arranger for radio station WCAU out of Philadelphia in the 1940s.


Grand Serenade for an Awful Lot of Winds and Percussion

P.D.Q. Bach

Grand SerenadeThe Grand Serenade was composed on commission from Prince Fred of Wein-am-Rhein, for some sort of outdoor occasion. P.D.Q. Bach had originally wanted to write a really big work of thirty-five or forty minutes duration, but he agreed to make it only a third as long when Prince Fred offered to triple the fee. Eventually, the manuscript made its way to Boston, where Peter Schickele found it in a box marked “Seditious Material. Some adjustments have been made to the arrangement for the lack of a dill piccolo, which is now obsolete and little is known.

Little is known of P.D.Q. Bach  due to a conspiracy of silence perpetrated by his own parents. The last and least of the great J. S. Bach's twenty-odd children, he was certainly the oddest. His father completely ignored him, setting an example for his family and posterity. He finally attained total obscurity at the time of his death. His musical output would be lost but for the efforts of Professor Peter Schickele, who in 1954, rummaging around in a Bavarian castle in search of musical gems, happened upon the original manuscript of the Sanka Cantata, being employed as a strainer in the castle caretaker's percolator.

The Klaxon

Henry Fillmore

The KlaxonHenry Fillmore (1881-1956) was one of the great American march composers, along with John Philip Sousa.  If not as popular as his contemporary March King, he was extraordinarily prolific, with over 250 original works and over 750 arrangements to his credit. Many of his pieces were published under pseudonyms.

A klaxon is a loud electric horn, typically in the form of a warning device.  The Klaxon March, composed in 1929, was written for the Cincinnati Automobile Show, with the title referencing a car horn.  At a breakneck speed and with sudden dynamic shifts, this march can be quite breathtaking.