Spring Concert 2016 Press Release

The Cascade Winds Symphonic Band, under the direction Michael Gesme, will present their annual spring concert on Sunday, May 22, 2016, at 2:00pm in the Summit High School Auditorium. The concert is free, but donations are gratefully accepted.

The season finale will open with driving rhythmic intensity as the sounds of Ron Nelson’s Homage to Perotin fill the hall. Though inspired by the music of a twelfth-century composer, Nelson’s use of the colors made possible by the concert band instrumentation are decidedly from the twentieth century. A much more subdued work follows: A Northern Legend by Alfred Reed. Though not overtly stated, this composition is perhaps best described as musical tone poem evoking the boundlessness of nature utilizing hints of Native American music. Two additional works will appear on the first half: John Philip Sousa’s Corcoran Cadets March, a work that Frederick Fennell described as one of Sousa’s most “rhythmically neat, texturally clean, harmonically and melodically satisfying marches,” and Puszta, by Jan Van der Roost. Typical of gypsy music, the dances in this last work feature the abrupt alternation of mood and constantly fluctuating tempos.

The second half opens with Samuel Hazo’s hauntingly beautiful Fantasy on a Japanese Folk Song. The composition tells the story of a Japanese girl who is given a music box by her mother and father when she is a child. As her life evolves, including a marriage to an American who takes her away from Japan, she is filled with inner conflict about her place in the world, and she returns again and again to the music box to feel close to her culture. The final work of the 2015-2016 Cascade Winds season will be Igor Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird. From its first performance in 1910, The Firebird made ballet history and placed Stravinsky at the forefront of contemporary composers. The suite is a compressed version of the ballet’s story, and the music is exceptionally precise in describing the action: from a wavering melodic line that is suggestive of the dark and mysterious forest, to the cries of the Firebird and the dips and curves of the enchanted creature in flight, to the horrendous evil gyrations of the monster Kashchei and his demons, to the lullaby which the Firebird sings to lull the monsters to sleep. The composition ends in a burst of brilliance as the demons disappear and there is unrestrained rejoicing.

Fall Concert 2015 Press Release

The Cascade Winds Symphonic Band, under the direction Michael Gesme, will present the opening concert of the 2015-2016 season on November 22, 2015, 2:00pm in the Summit High School Auditorium. Half of the concert repertoire has a tie to the east coast beginning with the “Appalachian Overture” by James Barnes, one of the most respected contemporary band composers active today. Also with settings in the east is a tone poem describing the state of “Virginia”  by Jacob de Haan and a set of “Colonial Airs and Dances”  by Robert Jager. The latter are based on songs from the American colonies composed in the seventeenth century, each with a decidedly British flavor a quirky title, set for concert band with clever, colorful, and contemporary orchestration by the composer. 
A concert band performance would not be complete without a march, and Edwin Bagley’s “National Emblem March” will stir the patriotic spirit with its quotes from the Star-Spangled Banner. One of the great band directors of the twentieth century, Frederick Fennell, called the work “as perfect a march as a march can be.” Alfred Reed’s “Fifth Suite for Band” and Philp Sparke’s “Orient Express” will round out the program. The Reed is a set of four wildly contrasting dance settings from around the world, including Hoe Down from America, Sarabande from France, Yamabushi Kangura from Japan and Hora from Israel and Rumania. The “Orient Express” is exactly as one would expect with the title: a musical description of the hustle and bustle of a busy train station, the slow lurching forward of the train as the journey gets underway and the resplendent grandeur of traveling across Europe on this most famous and luxurious mode of transportation. Train whistles most certainly included!

Spring Concert 2015 Press Release

The Cascade Winds Symphonic Band, under the direction of Michael Gesme, will present its final concert of the 2014-2015 season on Sunday, May 31, 2015 at 2:00pm in the Summit High School Auditorium. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted.

The performance will open with “American Riversongs,” a pastiche of folksongs from a younger America, including ‘Shenandoah’ and Stephen Foster’s ‘The Glendy Burk,’ cleverly woven together by composer Pierre La Plante. Next will be a pair of works by two composers who share a similar musical esthetic, but have so very little in common. The first is a set of dances from “The Royal Fireworks” by the famous, baroque composer, G.F. Handel.  The second, a work titled “Six Contrary Dances” by the lesser known P.D.Q Bach, will undoubtedly raise a few eyebrows for it’s simultaneous allegiance to and blatant disregard of the compositional traditions of the Bach family. The first half will conclude with John Philip Sousa’s “The Free Lance March.” Considered a medley-march, “The Free Lance” is comprised of several melodies that are drawn from Sousa’s popular 1905 operetta of the same name.

The second half is dedicated to a single work, a new arrangement for wind ensemble of Carl Orff’s most famous composition, “Carmina Burana.”Inspired by a collection of sacred and secular poems, found in a Bavarian monastery, “Carmina Burana” is exceptionally powerful and wonderfully uncomplicated. Using the simplest of harmonies and incessantly repetitious rhythmic patterns, Orff is able to create huge textures of sound that have the power to overwhelm the listener with their cumulative effects. Earl Kelly, a former Professor of Music at Kent State University, has commented that “one can envy any listener [who is having their] first experience with this fascinating, hypnotic and utterly spontaneous music. “Whether this is your first or twenty-first experience with the music of ‘Carmina Burana,’” comments conductor Michael Gesme, “I’m confident you’ll be enchanted by the sonic experience.”

For additional information about this performance and the Cascade Winds please contact Michael Gesme at mgesme@cocc.edu or visit www.cascadewinds.org.

Spring Concert 2014 Press Release

The final concert of the Cascade Winds will be held on Sunday, May 4, 2014 in the Summit High School Auditorium. Admission to the concert is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. COCC professor of music, Michael Gesme, will lead the ensemble in a varied program beginning, appropriately, with “Quirks” by Brant Karrick. By definition, quirks are sudden sharp turns or unpredictable peculiarities and this capricious work takes full advantage of its title; never resting too long on one style, the piece seamlessly and continually transitions between latin, jazz, tango, swing, et cetera. The “Huckleberry Finn Suite” by Franco Cesarini, a piece of intentionally lighthearted disposition, is up next musically describing some of the primary scenes and characters of Mark Twain’s classic. Interspersed with brief readings from the text, the four movements of this work will portray a lazy river town, Jim, The King and the Duke, and Huckleberry Finn himself. Also on the first half will be a march by John Philip Sousa, “Solid Men to the Front!,” and “Carmen Fantasy” with music by Georges Bizet and arranged by Eiji Suzuki. The march was composed in 1918 while the 62-year-old Sousa was serving as Music Director of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. The fantasy is a wandering pastiche of several of the great melodies from Bizet’s famously scandalous opera, which, in this arrangement, prominently features mallet percussion.

The second half will open with two works by Giovanni Gabrieli, an Italian high renaissance composer famous for church music intended to be performed from opposite sides of the cathedral. The Cascade Winds brass section will simulate this experience with two brass choirs placed on opposite sides of the auditorium. “For those of us who play brass instruments,” comments Gesme, “the music of Gabrieli is one of the high watermarks of composition. It is extremely satisfying to listen to and to play.” The final piece on the concert is the “Sixth Symphony” by James Barnes. This three movement work is very traditional in form, melodic and harmonic language, and is brimming with the wide palate of colors for which Barnes’ compositions are famous–a rousing conclusion to the 2013-2014 season.