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SINFONIA IX: A CONCERT IN THE PARK for concert band

Sinfonia IX: A Concert in the Park by Timothy Broege. Suitable for high school, college, and community bands, 10 minutes duration, Grade 4.

 

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PROGRAM NOTE

Stylistically diverse -- tranquil, spirited pastoral, sensitive, energetic -- exhibiting a remarkable palette, the five movements of SINFONIA IX form a unique symphonic statement.

Movement I, Prelude, is about contrasts: A lazy, smooth, motive in brasses alternates with, and then joins, an active and detached motive in woodwinds. The spirited Movement II, Morley's Ghost, is an intricate canonic collage and homage to that venerable theoretician & composer, Thomas Morley. By contrast, movement III, Dialog, speaks in a relaxed, lyrical, and pastoral language as it develops its gently rising and falling motives. Movement IV, Waltz, innocently celebrates the joys of childhood with a lilting melody and rondo form. For the rousing Finale, Movement V begins with a martial call of repeated-notes, heralding a headstrong journey of power and excitement.

Like a number of the composer's other works, SINFONIA IX is based on earlier material: A brass sextet, written in 1966 when the composer was nineteen years old, forms the raw material for the first, third and fifth movements, while a later work, Martin's Waltz (a children's piece for flutes and clarinets composed in 1975) is the basis of the fourth movement. The second movement, however, is a fanciful contrapuntal commentary on Thomas Morley's 16th-century canzonet, "Fire and Lightning."

SINFONIA IX is dedicated to John Raforth, a distinguished band director and music educator at West High School in Madison, Wisconsin. The work was commissioned by his friends and former students, and was completed in 1977. Its first publication some twenty years later is a result of the increasing attention paid by university band directors to the earlier Sinfonias, particularly Sinfonia III (Hymns and Dances); Sinfonia V (Sinfonia Sacra et Profana); and now, Sinfonia IX. Whereas the first two works are wind ensemble compositions that have been championed equally by the concert band, Sinfonia IX is the composer's first "college-level" Sinfonia written especially for concert band.

Bob Margolis

 

PERFORMANCE NOTE

As a general statement, careful observance of tempo markings and marks of expression should enable conductors to bring this music to life.

The first movement is best played quite slowly, with the fortissimo outbursts (measures 11, 18 and 27) interrupting the prevailing tranquility of the piece.

"Morley's Ghost" should be playful and rhythmically precise. Accents must be placed accurately and care must be taken that the tempo does not increase during the movement. A somewhat slower tempo than marked may be employed in order to gain rhythmic precision and buoyancy.

The third movement returns to the tranquil mood of the "Prelude." A genuine conversation should occur among the flute, oboe, alto saxophone, trombone, trumpet and tenor saxophone, all of which share the melodic material of the piece.

The "Waltz" should be light-hearted as well as fleet-footed. Clumsiness or too slow a tempo would have a deleterious effect on this simple little tune.

In contrast, the fifth movement should be grand and full of energy, even a bit pompous. Care must be taken that the loudest playing is saved for the concluding bars of the piece (measures 38 to the end). There should be no change in tempo throughout the movement, and definitely no rallentando at the end.

This is music intended for a large symphonic band, but it should also work well with smaller ensembles. No matter what the size of the group, string basses are an important component of the music's sonority and should be used (at least 2 or 3 players, preferably more) whenever they are available.

Timothy Broege


Copyright © 1998 Manhattan Beach Music. All Rights Reserved.

Performance by Eugene Corporon conducting the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony.

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