Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (2024)

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Choral Union and Concert Choir April 29


German (Original)

Ihr wandelt droben im Licht,
Auf weichem Boden, selige Genien!
Glänzende Götterlüfte
Rühren euch leicht,
Wie die Finger der Künstlerin
Heilige Saiten.

Schicksallos, wie der schlafende
Säugling, atmen die Himmlischen;
Keusch bewahrt
In bescheidener Knospe
Blühet ewig
Ihnen der Geist,
Und die seligen Augen
Blicken in stiller,
Ewiger Klarheit.

Doch uns ist gegeben
Auf keiner Stätte zu ruhn;
Es schwinden, es fallen
Die leidenden Menschen
Blindlings von einer
Stunde zur andern,
Wie Wasser von Klippe
zu Klippe geworfen,
Jahrlang ins Ungewisse hinab.

English (Translation)

Ye move up yonder in light,
On airy ground, o blessed spirits!
Radiant winds ethereal
O'er you play light,
As the fingers inspired that wake Heavenly lyre-chords.

Free from Fate, like the slumbering
Suckling, breathe the immortals.
Pure, unsullied,
In bud that enfolds
It blooms for aye,
The flower of their spirit.
And the eyes of the blessed
Gaze in tranquil
Brightness eternal.

But to us is it given
In no abiding place to dwell;
We vanish, we stumble,
We suffering, sorrowing mortals Blindly from one
Brief hour to another,
Like water from boulder
To boulder flung downward,
Year by year to the dark Unknown below.

Brahms' Schicksalslied" or "Song of Destiny" is a significant choral work composed in 1868. Schicksalslied explores themes of fate, the human condition, and the contrast between the divine and mortal realms. The peaceful opening depicts the blissful existence of the gods, while the turbulent middle section portrays the pain and toil of humanity. The piece ultimatelyreflects on the transient nature of human existence and the acceptance of fate. Schicksalslied is characterized by its lush harmonies, expressive melodies, and masterful use of orchestral color. The work showcases Brahms' command of choral and orchestral writing, with moments of grandeur contrasted with moments of intimate introspection.

The three-part composition opens “slow and full of longing” with an instrumental introduction leading into the truly divine atmosphere with the first choral verse, filled with light. Highwoodwind parts embellish the theme initially presented in the alto voice and horn. Strings continue to accompany the first choral entry with the portrayal of the “radiant divine breezes.” The wind and brass parts linked thematically to the choral writing to reinforce the impression of having “no fate” and the “quiet, eternal clarity” of the realm of the gods.

The beauty of the first section slow section begins to give way the second part, which laments man’s fate, with a furious in stark contrast to the calm radiance of the opening section. Rousing and rushing ascending and descending string figures and brass accents lead into a leaping unison theme from the chorus. The section continues with dramatic effect and text painting with canonic, imitative tension with contrast of major and minor expressing the suffering and death of a human being.

The tension finally gives way to an epilogue of the poetry, following the structure of the opening section, this time transposed into C Major. Depicting the realms of gods and humans combining filled with hope.


German (Original)

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere anstimmen, und freudenvollere.
Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.
Wem der große Wurf gelungen,
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein;
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer's nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!
Freude trinken alle Wesen
An den Brüsten der Natur;
Alle Guten, alle Bösen
Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.
Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,
Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,
Und der Cherub steht vor Gott.
Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
Durch des Himmels prächt'gen Plan,
Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.
Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, über'm Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen.
Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such' ihn über'm Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muß er wohnen.

English (Translation)

O friends, no more of these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
More songs full of joy!
Joy, bright spark of divinity, Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Within thy sanctuary.
Thy magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers,
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.
Whoever has created
An abiding friendship,
Or has won
A true and loving wife,
All who can call at least one soul theirs,
Join our song of praise;
But those who cannot must creep tearfully
Away from our circle.
All creatures drink of joy
At natures breast.
Just and unjust
Alike taste of her gift;
She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine,
A tried friend to the end.
Even the worm can feel contentment,
And the cherub stands before God!
Gladly, like the heavenly bodies
Which He sent on their courses
Through the splendor of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
Like a hero going to victory!
You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?
Seek Him in the heavens;
Above the stars must he dwell.

Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 is one of the most celebrated and iconic works in the classical music repertoire. Although the symphony is written in 4 movements, this evening we will be presenting only the 4th movement.

The Ninth Symphony is significant not only for its musical innovation, but also for its historical and cultural impact. It was the first symphony to incorporate vocal soloists and choir into the final movement, breaking with the tradition of purely instrumental symphonies. Its message of universal brotherhood and joy also resonated deeply in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars and during a period of political and social upheaval in Europe.

The movement opens with a quick presto lead by winds and timpani with the cellos and basses playing an instrumental recitative, interjected with brief thematic material from the previous three movements of the symphony (also unique for the time). This then gives way to the now famous “ode to joy” melody, initially played by the cellos and basses, which grows into the entire orchestra joining in as a symbol of unity. The opening presto is then repeated, this time with the strings, and the recitative now sung by the baritone who introduces Schiller’s poem with words by Beethoven: “O friends, not these tones; instead, let us strike up more pleasing and joyful ones.” The chorus repeats the last four lines of each stanza as a refrain, followed by the vocal quartet. A Turkish march follows lead by the tenor soloist, and after several variations, the chorus returns with a monumental double fugue. In typical Beethoven style, the piece doesn’t end there, but continues with several, short, contrasting sections finally culminating in a triumphant affirmation of humanity.

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (1)Dr. Christopher M. Hathaway

Christopher M. Hathaway, conductor and singer, is Professor and Director of Choral Studies at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. His responsibilities at UWL include conducting the university’s premier choral ensemble, the UWL Concert Choir, as well as the Treble Chorus, and Choral Union. In addition to his responsibilities leading the choral ensembles, Dr. Hathaway is the Director of Choral Music Education where he teaches classes in choral conducting, choral techniques, and choral methods. He also serves as the supervisor for the undergraduate choral music education students in their field work and student teaching.

Before moving to La Crosse, Hathaway’s conducting engagements include leading the Women’s Chorus at the University of North Texas and serving as assistant to Dr. Richard Sparks and the internationally acclaimed UNT Collegium. While in Texas, Hathaway also served as Assistant Conductor to Dr. Jerry McCoy and the Fort Worth Chorale. During the 2013-2015 seasons, Dr. Hathaway served as the Assistant Conductor for The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay: the official symphony chorus for the Florida Orchestra. In this position, he assisted with the preparation for performances including Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, Fauré's Requiem, Duruflé’s Requiem, Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé, Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, and Orff's Carmina Burana.

Prior to his graduate work, Hathaway served as a choir director in the school systems of Kalamazoo and Otsego, Michigan. Choirs under his direction consistently achieved the highest professional ratings at both the district and state levels.

Dr. Hathaway earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting at the University of North Texas and a dual Master’s of Music in Choral Conducting and Vocal Performance from The University of South Florida. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University in Music Education where he studied with Dr. Joe Miller.

Symphony Orchestra April 28 (PAST)

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (2)Paul Dukas

Fanfare pour preceder “La Peri” by Paul Dukas

Born into a highly musical family—his mother, it was said, had talent that would have enabled her to become a concert pianist, had she wished—Dukas studied at the Paris Conservatory from 1882–88. There he played timpani in the orchestra, received a first prize in counterpoint and fugue, struck up close friendships with Debussy and Vincent d’Indy, and was awarded second place in the Prix de Rome competition for a student cantata. He began writing music reviews in 1892 and would go on to become a notable critic for the Revue hebdomadaire, Gazette des beaux-arts, Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, and Revue musicale. As his career progressed, he became active as a teacher at the Conservatory and the École Normale de Musique and as an editor of “ancient music”—that is, by Couperin, Scarlatti, Rameau, and Beethoven. As a teacher, he was surly and intimidating at first; but many pupils who survived beyond the initial onslaught grew to view him with affection. Quite a few went on to greatness, including Jehan Alain, Carlos Chávez, Maurice Duruflé, Olivier Messiaen, Walter Piston, Manuel Ponce, and Joaquín Rodrigo.

Dukas introduced his piece with a two-minute Fanfare for brass choir, not part of the original score but added for the delayed 1912 premiere. A mystery surrounds the genesis of Dukas’s La Péri, which was described when published as a poème dansé (danced poem) although he told his friend Pierre Lalo (a prominent music critic) that he “might call it whatever you want—pantomime, ballet, danced scene.” He also revealed to Lalo, “I had lost a wager; to pay off my debt, I had to promise to write this thing.” The word he used was gageure, which might mean just a “challenge”; but given the context of that statement, it does appear to have been an actual bet—though we know not with whom or over what. Perhaps it involved, directly or indirectly, Natacha Trouhanova, born in Kiev in 1885, who had entered the Moscow Conservatory’s acting program but, beset with frequent laryngitis, turned instead to dance. She arrived in Paris in 1907, creating a sensation dancing the Bacchanale in Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila at the Opéra. She danced in Parisian establishments of varying aesthetic persuasions—not only the Opéra but also the Folies Bergère and, beginning in 1911, Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

This “archangel” (as Dukas called her) was with Diaghilev’s company when he wrote La Péri for her—and dedicated the score to her, and gave her sole performing rights to it for five years. The work was to be unveiled in a four-performance run in June 1911, but plans went awry as the date approached, apparently due to a contractual dispute between Trouhanova and Diaghilev. The impresario cancelled the planned premiere, limiting the run to three go-rounds—to none of which critics would be admitted. The press went berserk, Trouhanova went into a sulk, and Dukas withdrew his score. Diaghilev offered to mount it immediately in London and then in an American tour—offers Dukas met with refusal. La Péri finally reached the stage in 1912 almost a year later than planned, in a non-Diaghilev “danced concert,” with sets and costumes, in Paris.

- James M. Keller

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (3)Franz von Suppé

Light Cavalry Overture by Franz von Suppé

Suppé was born to an Italian-Belgian father and a Viennese mother in Croatia, which was then part of the Kingdom of Dalmatia in the Austro-Hungarian empire. His full name befits his convoluted nationality: his parents named him Francesco Ezechiele Ermenegildo Cavaliere Suppé Demelli. His early musical training was in flute and singing. His parents pushed him to study law, but he continued his musical studies nonetheless. He eventually moved to Vienna to complete his studies and find work conducting in opera houses. He went on to compose over 100 works for the stage.

Light Cavalry is a two-act operetta composed in 1866. The story revolves around a troop of cavalry men who attempt to unite a young couple through many twists and turns. The overture has taken on a life of its own, much beyond operetta that spawned it.

- Andy Pease

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (4)Tomaso Albinoni

Concerto in D minor, op. 9, no.2 by Tomaso Albinoni

Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni was born in Venice in 1671, eldest son of a wealthy paper merchant. At an early age he became proficient as a singer and, more notably, as a violinist, though not being a member of the performers' guild he was unable to play publicly so he turned his hand to composition. His first opera, Zenobia, regina de Palmireni, was produced in Venice in 1694, coinciding with his first collection of instrumental music, the 12 Sonate a tre, Op.1. Thereafter he divided his attention almost equally between vocal composition (operas, serenatas and cantatas) and instrumental composition (sonatas and concertos).

Until his father's death in 1709, he was able to cultivate music more for pleasure than for profit, referring to himself as "Dilettante Veneto" - a term which in 18th century Italy was totally devoid of unfavorable connotations. Under the terms of his father's will he was relieved of the duty (which he would normally have assumed as eldest son) to take charge of the family business, this task being given to his younger brothers. Henceforth he was to be a full-time musician, a prolific composer who according to one report, also ran a successful academy of singing.

A lifelong resident of Venice, Albnoni married an opera singer, Margherita Raimondi (d 1721), and composed as many as 81 operas several of which were performed in northern Europe from the 1720s onwards. In1722 he traveled to Munich at the invitation of the Elector of Bavaria to supervise performances of I veri amici and Il trionfo d'amore as part of the wedding celebrations for the Prince-Elector and the daughter of the late Emperor Joseph I.

Most of his operatic works have been lost, having not been published during his lifetime. Nine collections of instrumental works were however published, meeting with considerable success and consequent reprints; thus it is as a composer of instrumental music (99 sonatas, 59 concertos and 9 sinfonias) that he is known today. In his lifetime these works were favorably compared with those of Corelli and Vivaldi, and his nine collections published in Italy, Amsterdam and London were either dedicated to or sponsored by an impressive list of southern European nobility.

Albinoni was particularly fond of the oboe, a relatively new introduction in Italy, and is credited with being the first Italian to compose oboe concertos (Op. 7, 1715). Prior to Op.7, Albinoni had not published any compositions with parts for wind instruments.

The concerto, in particular, had been regarded as the province of stringed instruments. It is likely that the first concertos featuring a solo oboe appeared from German composers such as Telemann or Handel. Nevertheless, the four concertos with one oboe (Nos. 3, 6, 9 and 12) and the four with two oboes (Nos. 2, 5, 8 and 11) in Albinoni's Op.7 were the first of their kind to be published, and proved so successful that the composer repeated the formula in Op.9 (1722).

- Denis Stevens

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (5)Stephen Melillo

That Which Remains, a Hymn for Notre Dame by Stephen Melillo

On April 15, 2019, the world watched as the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France burned. This piece was composed the following day in response and “inspired by yesterday’s events both painful and good.”

A world-renowned composer, winner of multiple Gold Global Music Awards in 2022-23, a Hollywood Music in Media Award for “Best Epic/Orchestral Music” in 2022, a Best New Age Album Award in “New Age Radio Awards” for “The Grey II-III”, and a 3rd Pulitzer Prize in Music nomination in 2024, Stephen’s more than 1350 works include 4 symphonies, several concerti and over 46-hours of Music for Ensembles of the 3rd Millennium™. Stephen’s Symphony IIII: Lightfall, was nominated for the Pulitzer and Nemmers Prize in Music in 2015. Winner of three 2009 Telly & Ava Awards for his 2005 Visualized Concert, Kakehashi: That We Might Live, Stephen's concert-version was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Music. A fourth Telly Award was given for “Best Use of Music” in the 2019 feature film, One Little Finger, produced by Rupam Sarmah. A fifth Telly Award and Scorpius Award included Stephen’s work on the 2019 Reckoning of Darkness, produced by Christopher Kulikowski.

Stephen’s 15 feature film scores include the Academy Award-nominated 12:01 PM. Stephen has been a recipient of the ASCAP Concert Awards each year since 1992. STORMWORKS, Stephen’s pioneering, self-publishing entity, has gone from 0 to many thousands of worldwide renderings since 1992 simply by word-of-mouth. He has 53 Albums and 9 books on varied streaming services and novels, including Only for Now, Nogard & Dragon, Ahab, a Love Story, the prequel to Melville’s Moby Dick, and most recently, the sequel, Death to Moby Dick, a Love Story.

- Stephen Melillo

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (6)Charles Ives

The Unanswered Question by Charles Ives

Charles Ives was an American composer. Widely considered an innovator, Ives was the son of U.S. Army Bandleader George Ives. At a young age, Ives studied organ and went on to Yale to study composition with Horatio Parker. Believing that he could not earn a living writing the music that he wanted to write, he formed a successful insurance business and composed in the evenings. Much of his music was ignored during his own lifetime, and many of his compositions were not published until decades after he had written them.

His compositional style was largely experimental, but also incorporated American folk tunes and hymn songs to paint a unique tonal portrait. In 1947 he received a Pultzer Prize for his Third Symphony (1911), after its debut only a year earlier in 1946. He died in New York City in 1954, leaving a legacy that predated most of the twentieth century innovations such as atonality, aleatoricism, polytonality, microtones, multiple cross-rhythms, and tone clusters.

In his book America’s Music, Gilbert Chase writes that Charles Ives suffered from “congenital originality in a climate of conformity.” Drawing sustenance from his father’s bold, unorthodox approach to music as well as his transcendentalist heroes Emerson and Thoreau, the staunchly independent thinker synthesized the American folk tunes and hymns of his childhood with his own aesthetic – he used devices such as bitonality and polyrhythms decades before they entered the standard 20th-century composition toolbox – into a personal voice.

The Unanswered Question is one of the few works of Ives, however, that does not quote or somehow incorporate traditional folk songs and hymn tunes. The musicologist Wayne Shirley has suggested the work was inspired by Emerson’s poem “The Sphynx,” in which the title phrase appears. Ives viewed Emerson as rising “to almost perfect freedom of action, of thought and of soul, in any direction and to any height.”

“Thou art the unanswered question;
Couldst see thy proper eye,
Alway it asketh, asketh;
And each answer is a lie.
So take thy quest through nature,
It through thousand natures ply;
Ask on, thou clothed eternity;
Time is the false reply.”

– from “The Sphynx,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Frequently labeled “program music,” The Unanswered Question is more aptly described as a piece of philosophy expressed in music. In the foreword to the score, Ives outlines the conceit of the work as dealing with humanity’s “perennial question of existence.” He constructs the work in three layers – a solo trumpet (in many performances played offstage), four flutes, and strings – which never quite sync up.

The trumpet poses the question as a five-note motive, beautiful and stately if slightly off-kilter. The flutes, playing the role of humanity, seek an answer, first softly and slowly, picking up segments of the trumpet’s motive. Ives portrays the frustrating inadequacy of their frenetic and ultimately empty search for answers with increasing rhythmic density, decreasing unity, and more intense dissonances.

The strings, meanwhile, provide the backdrop, playing serenely throughout the work in G major. With almost no perceptible beat or meter, the strings continue what Ives called his “endless melody” – the answer to the noise of relentless wondering and seeking, always there in the background, in stillness. It is Ives’ sonic representation of silence, wherein lies the answer.

- Meg Ryan

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (7)Brian Balmages

Summer Dances by Brian Balmages

Originally composed for wind ensemble for an outdoor festival, the piece maintains a dance-like quality throughout, even during the lyrical portions of the work. Balmages’ transcription has been truly tailored to a symphony orchestra and makes use of the elegance it possesses along with the sheer power it can command. The work conjures the excitement and joyous potential of the coming summer as well as the dreaded, dog days.

Brian Balmages is known worldwide as a composer and conductor who equally spans the worlds of orchestral, band, and chamber music. His music has been performed by groups ranging from professional symphony orchestras to elementary schools in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Sydney Opera House, Toronto Centre for the Arts, and many more. He is a recipient of the A. Austin Harding Award from the American School Band Directors Association, won the 2020 NBA William D. Revelli Composition Contest with his work Love and Light, and was awarded the inaugural James Madison University Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Visual and Performing Arts. In the same year, he was commissioned by his other alma mater, the University of Miami, to compose music for the inauguration of the institution’s 6th president, Dr. Julio Frenk. His music was also performed as part of the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service, which was attended by both President Obama and Vice President Biden.

As a conductor, Mr. Balmages enjoys regular engagements with all-state and regional ensembles as well as university and professional groups throughout the world. Notable guest conducting appearances have included the Midwest Clinic, Western International Band Clinic, Maryborough Music Conference (Australia), College Band Directors Conference, American School Band Directors Association National Conference, numerous state ASTA conferences, Teatro dell’Aquila (Italy), and others. He is an elected member of the American Bandmasters Association and has taught instrumental conducting at Towson University where he also served as Assistant Director of Bands and Orchestras. Currently, he is Director of MakeMusic Publications and Digital Education for Alfred and MakeMusic.

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (8)John Williams

A Tribute to John Williams by John Williams
arranged for orchestra by Paul Lavender

Every year since 1978, the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. has recognized the extraordinary talents of our most prestigious artists and their lifetime contributions to American arts and culture. In 2004, the music and film communities were thrilled with the Honor’s recognition of one of their most revered colleagues, composer John Williams. At the gala concert, tribute host Steven Spielberg saluted his long-time friend and collaborator by pointing out, “John Williams is an American treasure and his musical voice has become a distinctive part of our culture. Have you ever heard a 7-year old hum the first nine notes of Dart Vader’s theme? Or, seen a group of kids jumping into a pool going ‘Dah-duh, Dah-duh, Dah-duh, Dah-Duh?’” The U.S. Marine Band performed this work at the event and it includes themes from: Star Wars, Jaws, Superman March, Harry Potter, Raiders March, and E.T."

- Paul Lavender

Olympic Fanfare and Theme by John Williams
arranged for orchestra by Donald Riggio

“The Olympic Games continue to fascinate and inspire each one of us -- with every presentation of the Games, we experience that complete dedication and unshakable will to persevere that typifies the goal of each competitor. The human spirit soars, and we strive for the vest within us. These are the qualities that we seek to capture, describe and preserve through music, and it has been my great honor to contribute Olympic Fanfare and Theme to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. I dedicate it lovingly to all participating athletes, from whom we derive so much strength and inspiration.”

- John Williams

In a career that spans five decades, John Williams has become one of America’s most accomplished and successful composers for film and for the concert stage. He has served as music director and laureate conductor of one of the country’s treasured musical institutions, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and he maintains thriving artistic relationships with many of the world’s great orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Mr. Williams has received a variety of prestigious awards, including the National Medal of Arts, the Kennedy Center Honor, the Olympic Order, and numerous Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, Emmy Awards and Golden Globe Awards. He remains one of our nation’s most distinguished and contributive musical voices.

Mr. Williams has composed the music and served as music director for more than one hundred films. His 40-year artistic partnership with director Steven Spielberg has resulted in many of Hollywood’s most acclaimed and successful films, including Schindler’s List, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, four Indiana Jones films, Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Munich, Hook, Catch Me If You Can, Minority Report, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Empire of the Sun, The Adventures of TinTin and War Horse. Their latest collaboration, The BFG, was released on July 1, 2016. Mr. Williams has composed the scores for all seven Star Wars films, the first three Harry Potter films, Superman: The Movie, JFK, Born on the Fourth of July, Memoirs of a Geisha, Far and Away, The Accidental Tourist, Home Alone, Nixon, The Patriot, Angela’s Ashes, Seven Years in Tibet, The Witches of Eastwick, Rosewood, Sleepers, Sabrina, Presumed Innocent, The Cowboys and The Reivers, among many others. He has worked with many legendary directors, including Alfred Hitchco*ck, William Wyler and Robert Altman.

In 1971, he adapted the score for the film version of Fiddler on the Roof, for which he composed original violin cadenzas for renowned virtuoso Isaac Stern. He has appeared on recordings as pianist and conductor with Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Jessye Norman and others. Mr. Williams has received five Academy Awards and 50 Oscar nominations, making him the Academy’s most-nominated living person and the second-most nominated person in the history of the Oscars. His most recent nomination was for the film Star War: The Force Awakens. He also has received seven British Academy Awards (BAFTA), 22 Grammys, four Golden Globes, five Emmys, and numerous gold and platinum records.

Born and raised in New York, Mr. Williams moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1948, where he studied composition with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. After service in the Air Force, he returned to New York to attend the Juilliard School, where he studied piano with Madame Rosina Lhevinne. While in New York, he also worked as a jazz pianist, both in nightclubs and on recordings. He returned to Los Angeles and began his career in the film industry, working with a number of accomplished composers including Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman, and Franz Waxman. He went on to write music for more than 200 television episodes for anthology series Alcoa Premiere, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Chrysler Theatre and Playhouse 90. His more recent contributions to television music include the well-known theme for NBC Nightly News (“The Mission”), the theme for what has become network television’s longest-running series, NBC’s Meet the Press, and a new theme for the prestigious PBS arts showcase Great Performances.

In addition to his activity in film and television, Mr. Williams has composed numerous works for the concert stage, among them two symphonies, and concertos for flute, violin, clarinet, viola, oboe and tuba. His cello concerto was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and premiered by Yo-Yo Ma at Tanglewood in 1994. Mr. Williams also has filled commissions by several of the world’s leading orchestras, including a bassoon concerto for the New York Philharmonic entitled The Five Sacred Trees, a trumpet concerto for the Cleveland Orchestra, and a horn concerto for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Seven for Luck, a seven-piece song cycle for soprano and orchestra based on the texts of former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, was premiered by the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood in 1998. At the opening concert of their 2009–2010 season, James Levine led the Boston Symphony in the premiere Mr. Williams’ On Willows and Birches, a concerto for harp and orchestra.

In January 1980, Mr. Williams was named nineteenth music director of the Boston Pops Orchestra, succeeding the legendary Arthur Fiedler. He currently holds the title of Boston Pops Laureate Conductor which he assumed following his retirement in December 1993, after 14 highly successful seasons. He also holds the title of Artist-in-Residence at Tanglewood.

One of America’s best known and most distinctive artistic voices, Mr. Williams has composed music for many important cultural and commemorative events. Liberty Fanfare was composed for the rededication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986. American Journey, written to celebrate the new millennium and to accompany the retrospective film The Unfinished Journey by director Steven Spielberg, was premiered at the “America’s Millennium” concert in Washington, D.C. on New Year’s Eve, 1999. His orchestral work Soundings was performed at the celebratory opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. In the world of sport, he has contributed musical themes for the 1984, 1988, and 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, and the 1987 International Summer Games of the Special Olympics. In 2006, Mr. Williams composed the theme for NBC’s presentation of NFL Football.

Mr. Williams holds honorary degrees from 21 American universities, including The Juilliard School, Boston College, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Boston University, the New England Conservatory of Music, the University of Massachusetts at Boston, The Eastman School of Music, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and the University of Southern California. He is a recipient of the 2009 National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the United States Government. In 2003, he received the Olympic Order, the IOC’s highest honor, for his contributions to the Olympic movement. He served as the Grand Marshal of the 2004 Rose Parade in Pasadena, and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honor in December of 2004. Mr. Williams was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009, and in January of that same year he composed and arranged Air and Simple Gifts especially for the first inaugural ceremony of President Barack Obama.

- Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (9)Professor Martin I. Gaines

Prof. Martin I. Gaines proudly serves as the conductor of the UWL Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, and Concert Band as well as teaching courses in Conducting, Repertoire, and Music Education. Prior to this posting he served as the Director of Instrumental Studies at Morningside University and the Associate Director of Bands at McNeese State University. He is currently pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree (ABD 2023) specializing in conducting at the University of Arizona and holds degrees in conducting and music education from Middle Tennessee State University (MM) and the historic VanderCook College of Music (BMEd).

As an active conductor, clinician, and music producer, Gaines’ most recent recording projectDavid Maslanka: Music for Wind Ensemblewas released in January 2021 on the Toccata Classics Label. He has also served as producer for an album featuring the wind orchestra music of Nigel Clarke. Prior to his academic appointments, he also served as the principal conductor for the Arts Express Orchestra in Tucson, Arizona and as the founding conductor of the UArizona chamber ensemble Solar Winds.

Prior to pursuing graduate studies, Gaines taught middle and high school bands and orchestras for fifteen years in Illinois, Alabama, Georgia, and most recently in Florida. His bands have consistently received top marks from adjudicators and were often featured in clinic performance, e.g. the Southeastern Band Clinic at Troy University (2010) and the University of North Florida Invitational Festival (2010, 2014). He was also named Teacher of the Year in 2015 for Oakleaf High School (FL). Gaines holds professional memberships in CBDNA, College Music Society, College Orchestra Directors Association, International Conductor’s Guild, NAfME, National Band Association, Tau Beta Sigma, WASBE, and is a Life Member of Kappa Kappa Psi.

Wind Ensemble April 28 (PAST)

Welcome to the Bluffs Ballroom on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse! The UWL Wind Ensemble and I are honored and excited to present our program titledLove and Light.We feature four compositions all inspired and dedicated to the journey of motherhood, creation itself, loss, and unrivaled love. While you can read details about each piece from each composer below, the grouping of these four unique pieces tells a compelling story.

We start with a journey of sacrifice by a mother, in this case a baleen whale as she traverses hemispheres of oceans to feed and raise her children. Next we move to the shore to see a vision of vibrant and beautiful sunflowers contrasted by the blue sky as inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s series of sunflower paintings in the late nineteenth century. Van Gogh wrote that sunflowers were “almost a cry of anguish” while also symbolizing gratitude. This contrasting light and darkness will be evident in the work.

Our next piece, thetitle track, marks a most difficult time for a mother and her family: the premature loss of a child. While much overt anguish exists here, the primary focus is one of healing and eternal love. Our closing work today could perhaps be performed first. It represents a grand procession to a wedding, an ultimate expression of love. We are choosing to highlight the beauty of the work itself for the sake of our theme (…because if you know anything about Wagnerian opera, you may know that Elsa did not exactly have a happy ending, but the glorious end of this work is befitting to representLove and Light…).

Thank you for attending and supporting this fantastic ensemble. Please enjoy our performance!

Martin I. Gaines, Conductor
UWL Wind Ensemble

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (10)Jodie Blackshaw

Vulnerable Joyby Jodie Blackshaw

Vulnerable Joy is inspired by the self-sacrifice, commitment and humility of the mother humpback whale. The baleen whale, a mammal, grows to approximately 16m (52 feet) and lives at the ocean's surface in order to breathe. She travels up to 6,500km (approx. 4,000 miles) from her feeding ground to birth her calf in warmer tropical waters. Once she leaves the feeding grounds of Antarctica or the cooler oceans of the Northern Hemisphere, she will not feed again until she returns some 8-9 months later, all the while nursing her newborn calf with up to 600 litres (132 gallons) of milk per day.

In realizing the enormity of this feat, my mind turned to the whales who are closest to me, those who migrate along the east coast of Australia from Tonga to Antarctica. I imagined the sheer relief she must feel in that moment when the cool waters of the Southern Ocean rub her skin for the first time. She is tired and hungry, but in that moment (in my imagination), I feel her joy, her intense, overwhelming joy.

During the opening and closing of the performance, you may hear the instrumentalists murmuring some words. This ‘chant’ is made up of word fragments from eight different languages. The fragments used come from translations of the following words/phrases: “Welcome,” “Peace be with you,” “Live long and prosper,” and “Love.” The colour and beauty of these translated words has been used not to create a direct translation of these English phrases, but to provide a link between the humpback whales’ intelligent communication capability and our inability to understand them. For if we could, I feel sure they would be sending us a very clear message: please allow us to live our lives in peace, love, prosperity and beautiful, awe-inspiring, vulnerable joy.

Dr. Jodie Blackshaw (b.1971) grew up in the southeast of rural Australia and formed a very personal relationship with music early in life through the creative application of her imagination to musical colours and movement. Today, she continues to seek creative experiences for students through her teaching and composing so they, too, may enjoy the personal relationship she discovered in her formative years.

In 2020, Blackshaw completed her PhD in Composition with Dr. Christopher Sainsbury at the Australian National University.l In addition to composing and presenting music education workshops, Blackshaw is passionate about fostering equality in concert programs, includuing schools. In 2018, she curated the website to share diverse wind band programs created by leading conductors with the global wind music community. In 2021, Blackshaw launched the Teaching Performance through Composition series. This series is evidence-based and was developed as part of Jodie’s post-graduate studies into the compositional process and how best to apply that to an educational environment. In mid-2022, Jodie was proudly elected to the board of the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE).

- Jodie Blackshaw

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (11)Nicole Piunno

Symphony for Wind Ensemble Sunflower Studies by Nicole Piunno

Sunflower Studies, a symphony in five movements for wind ensemble, explores Vincent Van Gogh’s love for sunflowers combined with my own love of the sunflower. The titles for movement one and movement four come from the beautiful nature of the sunflower itself, while the titles for movement two and movement five come from Van Gogh’s painting style. These movements are connected in the middle by a short interlude.

Many movements incorporate the hymn tune Tell Me the Old, Old Story. This was one of Van Gogh’s favorite hymns, and the melody and lyrics have grown on me as I have gotten to know it. The hymn has a child-like quality to it which to me represents a sincere faith. Van Gogh said he wanted his paintings “to say something comforting as music is comforting ... something of the eternal.” This melody also represents that source of comfort which the sunflower can bring to a person.

I learned a lot about Van Gogh and his work from reading the letters Vincent wrote to his brother. Vincent told his brother he wanted to make a series of paintings of sunflowers that would contain broken yellows against blue backgrounds. He described this series of paintings to his brother, “The whole thing will therefore be a symphony in blue and yellow.” His style of combining dark and light elements together on a canvas is similar to my style as a composer and this makes me feel as though I found a kindred spirit in Vincent.

Sunflowers are vibrant, beautiful and sturdy flowers. Sunflowers had great significance for Van Gogh: they represented gratitude. In a similar fashion, for me sunflowers exemplify faith and hope.

Nicole Piunno (b. 1985) is an American composer and trumpeter. Dr. Piunno holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition and a Master of Music degree in theory pedagogy at Michigan State University, 2014. Her composition teachers were Ricardo Lorenz and Charles Ruggiero. She earned a Master of Music degree in composition at Central Michigan University, studying with David Gillingham. She has also worked with Jason Bahr, David Ludwig, and Tony Zilincik. Nicole earned a Bachelor of Music degree in music education from Ohio Wesleyan University, where her emphasis was on trumpet. She has performed with the Central Ohio Symphony Orchestra and appeared as a soloist with the Ohio Wesleyan University Chamber Orchestra.

Dr. Piunno views music as a vehicle for seeing and experiencing the realities of life. Her music often reflects the paradoxes in life and how these seemingly opposites are connected as they weave together. Her harmonic language and use of counterpoint mirrors the complexity of our world by acknowledging lightness and darkness, past and present, beauty and brokenness, confinement and freedom, spiritual and physical, life and death.

Her music has recently been performed by the Principal Brass Quintet of the New York Philharmonic, Athena Brass Band, University of Akron Faculty Brass Quintet, and the Michigan State University Symphony Band. Dr. Piunno was the winner of the 2018 Female Composer Competition, Beta Omicron Chapter, Kappa Kappa Psi. She teaches in the city schools of Dublin, Ohio.

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (12)Brian Balmages

Love and Light by Brian Balmages

It only makes sense to start with a letter by Elizabeth Elliott, the very person who spearheaded this entire project.

“On November 8th 2018, our daughter Madison Hope Elliott was born. Her heart had stopped beating the day before and I labored for 12 hours to get to hold her for the first and last time that day. It was the worst and best day of our lives. If you’ve never kissed your child goodbye forever in a hospital room or held your child’s lifeless body in your arms, or felt the deep dark hole that losing a child leaves in your heart, then I hope you never do.

While I was in labor, knowing that it was just the beginning of our pain, I knew I wanted to commission a piece for her. I didn’t want Madison’s name to be forgotten. She made me a mom for the first time. After we left the hospital and word spread about what happened, many people reached out to us. Oftentimes people wanted to help us but didn’t know what to say. Stillbirth isn’t openly discussed. It happens to one percent of babies born in the United States. That translates to 24,000 stillborn babies a year. The number is much higher when you include the one in four pregnancies that are lost due to miscarriage, and the many infants that are lost due to SIDS and other causes. For tragedies like this, there really are no words.

Turning to music for comfort was just the natural thing for me to do. It took a few months for me to mourn and grieve and finally crawl out of my pit long enough to start reaching out to composers. It was around January of 2019, after talking with Brian Balmages, that I knew I had found the right person. He understood the gravity of this piece and how far reaching and healing it would be for so many families.

We announced the project a little while later and the response we received was overwhelming. We heard from people all over the country and the world who wanted to be a part of it. Once we saw the overwhelming response, my first reaction was a sense of responsibility to all of those families to whom this mattered so much and to make this project the best it could possibly be. After speaking to COL Esch at the “Pershing’s Own” about the piece, he graciously agreed that The United States Army Band had to be the group to premiere it.

I am so thankful for all the people who made this possible. To Brian – who really spent a lot of time preparing his heart to be ready to write this piece; to COL Esch for being so open to this project; to Rachel Maxwell (who hosted the 501c3 nonprofit to help us fund this project); to all of the family, friends, parents, and ensemble directors that joined this consortium and saw its importance; and of course to the incredibly talented and warm musicians of the “Pershing’s Own” for their openness to this vision.

I know that this piece will help so many families now and into the future. While Love and Light is for my daughter Madison, it is also for all the babies in heaven that we have lost. But most importantly, it is for the parents. I believe that God sent this music down to Earth to comfort us mommies and daddies that are still in pain every day, just trying to learn how to live a life without their child. Nothing can take away the pain of losing a child, but time eventually reveals the “Love and Light” on the other side.”

– Elizabeth Elliott, 24 January 2020

How does a composer tackle something like this? And why would a composer tackle something like this? Elizabeth contacted me about the piece during a very emotional time in my life (more on that another time – this piece is not about me). We exchanged countless phone calls, texts and emails. And after some time, it became clear to me that I was meant to do this piece. I was in the process of converting to Catholicism (Elizabeth is also Catholic) and had recently read Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Artists. I realized this music was meant to tackle three impossible questions, and so with the help and guidance of faith, I decided to see where the music would guide me.

Love and Light is in three sections. The first section asks the question “What does unconditional love sound like?” Not temporary love, but full-on unconditional love. Then the second question – “What does it sound like when that unconditional love is shattered?” I intentionally use the word “shattered” instead of “broken,” because unconditional love is never broken. But events in our lives do come along that shatter our emotions and cause tremendous amounts of pain. What does that sound like?

And finally, the last and most difficult question. “What does it sound like when a child first sees the face of God?” I spent countless hours thinking about this, praying about it, and searching for the sounds that seemed to make sense of it all. The answer I came up with makes sense to me, and hopefully it will make sense to the listener as well. While there are massive moments, I realized it all began with a very intimate, personal and quiet encounter.

There are several musical elements used throughout the piece. Some will recognize subtle use of “alleluia, alleluia” from All Creatures of Our God and King throughout the work – used in hopeful, mournful, and angry settings. In addition, Elizabeth shared with me that she used to play Ben Folds’ “The Luckiest” on the piano to her daughter every day during her pregnancy. Before the funeral, Elizabeth actually reached out to Ben Folds knowing it was impossible that he would be able to attend the funeral. However, he wound up sending her a framed picture of the sheet music to “The Luckiest” on his own piano along with an inscription:

To Maddie – your mother used to play this song to you because you made her feel like the luckiest mom. Every time she plays it now, it will be in memory of you, her little angel in heaven.

I decided that I wanted to write a lullaby that would be a unifying element throughout the piece. This original lullaby is loosely based on the chord progressions in Ben’s piece, and is present throughout the work, including a comforting, triumphant and powerful setting toward the end of the piece.

Finally, the entire piece is based on a three-note motif, presented at the very beginning of the work. While the three notes are used and developed throughout the piece, it is not until the last section that it becomes apparent that these notes are the first three notes of Salvation is Created, a popular and powerful choral work by Pavel Tchesnokov. This, combined with elements of the earlier lullaby and fragments of All Creatures of Our God and King, forms the basis of the last section of the piece. It is incredibly powerful, both in its fullness and its quiet vulnerability. And, as best as I can describe it, seeks to answer that difficult question – “What does it sound like when someone first sees the face of God?”

Brian Balmages is an active trumpeter composer, conductor, producer, and performer. Mr. Balmages received his bachelor's degree in music industry from James Madison University and his masters in media writing and production from the University of Miami. His fresh compositional ideas have been heralded by many performers and directors, resulting in a high demand of his works for winds, brass, and orchestra. He received his Bachelor’s of Music from James Madison University and his master’s degree from the University of Miami in Florida. Mr. Balmages studied trumpet with James Kluesner, Don Tison, and Gilbert Johnson.

Mr. Balmages’ compositions have been performed worldwide at conferences including the College Band Directors National and Regional Conferences, the Midwest Clinic, the International Tuba/Euphonium Conference, the International Trombone Festival, and the International Trumpet Guild Conference. His active schedule of commissions and premieres has incorporated groups ranging from elementary schools to professional ensembles, including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Miami Symphony Orchestra, the University of Miami Wind Ensemble, and the Dominion Brass Ensemble. Among the professional artists that have commissioned him are James Jenkins, Principal Tuba of the Jacksonville Symphony; Lynn Klock, Saxophone Performing Artist for Selmer; Arthur Campbell, Clarinet Performing Artist for Leblanc; and Jerry Peel, professor of horn at the University of Miami. He has also had world premieres in prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall along with numerous performances abroad.

As a conductor, Mr. Balmages enjoys engagements with numerous honor bands, university groups, and professional ensembles throughout the country. Guest conducting appearances have included the Midwest Clinic, College Band Directors National Conference, Mid-Atlantic Wind Conductors Conference, and the Atlantic Classical Orchestra Brass Ensemble. He served as director of instrumental publications for The FJH Music Company Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he oversaw all aspects of the instrumental program related to works for concert band, jazz ensemble, and orchestra. Balmages joined Alfred Music as director of digital education and MakeMusic Publications in 2022. He is also a freelance musician and has performed with the Miami Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Chamber Orchestra, Skyline Brass, and the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra.

- Brian Balmages

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (13)Richard Wagner

Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral from Lohengrin by Richard Wagner

Every generation seems to need its larger-than-life superheroes. Wagner drew his from medieval German Romantic folklore. Lohengrin is a prime example, marking Wagner’s transition from his early operas to his epic “music dramas”, including the Ring, Tristan and Isolde, and Parsifal.

So, what’s the story, and why is Elsa participating in a procession towards a cathedral? Lohengrin, the mysterious knight (in shining armor), the Keeper of the Holy Grail, has come in disguise to Antwerp, Belgium, to rescue its inhabitants from barbaric invaders. He has arrived in a boat drawn by a swan. He discovers the beautiful Elsa who stands accused of murdering her brother. On the condition that she will never reveal his true identity to anyone, Lohengrin offers to marry her.

Shortly after the marriage, Elsa’s curiosity about her husband gets the better of her, and Lohengrin’s identity is exposed. He kills his antagonists, summons the swan to return him to the Temple of the Holy Grail, and the swan turns into Elsa’s dead brother. As Lohengrin departs, Elsa, overcome by grief, expires (nobody lives happily ever after!). The music that follows this processional episode in the opera is the well-known Here Comes the Bride, known as the Bridal Chorus.

Richard Wagner (1813-1883) is undoubtedly one of Western music’s most controversial figures. His operas (he called them music-dramas) redefined the genre and pushed it to its limits. His epic Ring Cycle spans four operas and about 16 hours of music. For this, he invented the leitmotif, a recognizable melodic theme connected to certain characters, places, events, or moods in his operas. He also invented new instruments (e.g. the Wagner tuba) and built his own opera house (Bayreuth) to get the sound he wanted. He pushed harmonic boundaries ever further, eventually eschewing any tonal resolution in the opera Tristan und Isolde (which is often regarded as the first modern opera). For all these operas, he assumed near total control, writing the librettos and designing the sets himself. He was also a writer whose opinions on many things, especially Judaism, have remained a stain on his character.

Transcriber Lucien Cailliet was a clarinetist in the Philadelphia Orchestra for many years and also served as associate conductor of The Allentown Band in Pennsylvania. This ensemble, with whom Cailliet frequently tested his transcriptions, is the oldest civilian concert band in the nation and has a proud history of talented musicians gracing its roster. His imaginative transcription of this bridal procession from Lohengrin, which dates from 1938, seamlessly combines the chorus and the orchestra into a setting that has proved to be one of Cailliet’s most successful and popular adaptions for band.

- Stephen S. Trott and the U.S. Marine Band

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (14)Professor Martin I. Gaines

Prof. Martin I. Gaines proudly serves as the conductor of the UWL Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, and Concert Band as well as teaching courses in Conducting, Repertoire, and Music Education. Prior to this posting he served as the Director of Instrumental Studies at Morningside University and the Associate Director of Bands at McNeese State University. He is currently pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree (ABD 2023) specializing in conducting at the University of Arizona and holds degrees in conducting and music education from Middle Tennessee State University (MM) and the historic VanderCook College of Music (BMEd).

As an active conductor, clinician, and music producer, Gaines’ most recent recording projectDavid Maslanka: Music for Wind Ensemblewas released in January 2021 on the Toccata Classics Label. He has also served as producer for an album featuring the wind orchestra music of Nigel Clarke. Prior to his academic appointments, he also served as the principal conductor for the Arts Express Orchestra in Tucson, Arizona and as the founding conductor of the UArizona chamber ensemble Solar Winds.

Prior to pursuing graduate studies, Gaines taught middle and high school bands and orchestras for fifteen years in Illinois, Alabama, Georgia, and most recently in Florida. His bands have consistently received top marks from adjudicators and were often featured in clinic performance, e.g. the Southeastern Band Clinic at Troy University (2010) and the University of North Florida Invitational Festival (2010, 2014). He was also named Teacher of the Year in 2015 for Oakleaf High School (FL). Gaines holds professional memberships in CBDNA, College Music Society, College Orchestra Directors Association, International Conductor’s Guild, NAfME, National Band Association, Tau Beta Sigma, WASBE, and is a Life Member of Kappa Kappa Psi.

Jazz April 20

Love for Sale,Cole Porter (arr. Jeff Erickson)

The arrangement of “Love for Sale” was written for the University of Illinois’ Latin Jazz Ensemble, directed by Tito Carillo. It has been adapted from the original four – percussion version to the one you hear tonight with just drum set. The piece is written in a Songo style, a modern version of salsa I first encountered in Chicago while working with and arranging for the Cuban vocalist Martin Vicente. The music is a blend of salsa and 1960s/70s American funk music. The listener can hear some James Brown elements in the funky bass rhythms and figures and the horn backgrounds in the solo section. For contrast, there are also some straight salsa elements in the B section of the AABA form as well as the solo piano montuno break.

-Jeff Erickson

Fraught Hope Blues,Jon Ailabouni(arr. Mike Conrad)

"Fraught Hope Blues" was written on January 6, 2021 amidst the news of the insurrection at the Capitol. Up to that time, I had taken for granted the peaceful transition of power after elections as an inevitability in America. Unfortunately, that was a naïve hope. Trust in democratic processes is a fraught hope. Our democracy depends on allAmericans, and especiallythose in power, to act with integrity. As we go through this election year - marked by division, misinformation, and mistrust - my hope is that the American people will take this opportunity to peacefully practice and uphold the shared democratic principles that define this country.

Black American music, and the jazz idiom in particular, is an audible expression of democracy. To learn and perform this music is to practice core democratic principles of equality, liberty, justice, and freedom in collaboration with other musicians. Democracy is imbedded in this music tradition through the flow of improvisation, interplay between composer and performer, and expression of diverse parts within the unity of a groove.Fraught Hope Blues meditates on these ideals in dialogue with the blues tradition, with its power to simultaneouslyexpress both lament and hope for a better future."Fraught Hope Blues" was recorded with a quintet and released on my 2023 albumYou Are Not Alone. This arrangement for big band is written by Dr. Mike Conrad and is the result of a commission project led by Dr. Jeff Erickson, director of Jazz Studies at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and Kyle Engelhardt, band director at Cedar Falls High School. This performance marks the Wisconsin debut for this arrangement. Enjoy!

-Jon Ailabouni

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (15)Professor Jon Ailabouni

Trumpeter, composer, and educator, Jon Ailabouni (he/his) is a sought-after musical artist based in La Crosse, WI. With a background steeped in Western European classical and Black American jazz traditions, Jon's creative work focuses on instrumental composition and improvisation that uses deeply felt stories as a focal point for expression. Ailabouni's improvisation as a soloist has been described as "sharp and resourceful" ( His 2023 album, You Are Not Alone, featuring his original compositions, has been presented at numerous venues around the Midwest including Iowa City Jazz Festival, the Jazz Gallery in Milwaukee, and Crooner’s in Minneapolis, MN.The album is available on Bandcampand all streamingplatforms.

Ailabouni can be heard performing regularly with Chris Merz and Shorter Stories including on the album New Juju, Mike Conrad and the Iowa Jazz Composer’s Orchestra including on the album The Fertile Soil Suite, Isthmus Brass, the La Crosse Jazz Orchestra, and Anders Svanoe’s Teleporting Rhythmic Orchestra (ASTRO).

In addition to his work as a composer and performer, Ailabouni is an emerging national leader at the intersection of jazz and liturgical traditions. He regularly serves as a guest worship director in congregations at gatherings including synod assemblies and most recently the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza in New Orleans, LA. Ailabouni’s The Spirit is Moving: A Jazz Liturgy of Renewal and over 50 hymn arrangements in various jazz styles are available on his website,

Ailabouni serves as an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Wisconsin - La Crossewhere he teaches the trumpet studio, Music Appreciation courses, and directs the Jazz Ensemble and Hoefer Brass Quintet. He is a frequent clinician and guest artist including recent appearances at the Jazz Education Network Conference, Tallcorn Jazz Festival at the University of Northern Iowa and the Southern Arkansas University Jazz Festival.

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (16)Dr. Jeff Erickson

Dr. Jeff Erickson is the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he directs the Jazz Orchestra, jazz combos, and teaches jazz improvisation and the saxophone studio. He has graduate degrees in saxophone and jazz performance from DePaul University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Busy as a guest artist and clinician at jazz festivals, woodwind competitions, universities, and public schools, Erickson also performs widely with a number of groups, including his own quartet, the La Crosse Jazz Orchestra, and the Tim Buchholz Quintet and Octet. He is also featured on Tim’s CD I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.

With musical experiences covering a broad variety of genres and styles, Erickson has appeared with a diverse set of artists including Clark Terry, Kurt Elling, Byron Stripling, Wycliffe Gordon, Wayne Newton, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Frankie Valli, Bernadette Peters and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. He has performed professionally with symphony orchestras, touring Broadway shows and been featured on a number of jazz and pop recordings. From 2003-08, he was the lead alto saxophonist and director for The Wisconsin Jazz Orchestra. Prior to that, he lived in Chicago, where he was a member of the Barrett Deems’ big band, the Grammy-nominated 911 Mambo Orchestra, and served as the musical director for Martin Vicente’s nine-piece afro-salsa group Energia!

As a writer, Erickson’s big band and Latin jazz arrangements have been performed by both college and professional big bands. In addition, he writes for his own jazz quartet, and this group performed three of his own compositions at the 2014 North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference. He has also presented and performed multiple times at the Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference, most recently conducting an improvisation workshop titled “Signifying on the Greeks: The Use of Rhetorical Devices in Jazz Improvisation.”

Program Notes - Visual & Performing Arts (2024)
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