Carl Orff (d. 1982) is best remembered for his Cantata “Carmina Burana”. The first movement of the work, “Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi” is often used in films to depict primal forces and represents the idea of good luck and bad luck… You never know which will show up at your doorstep.
Frank Ticheli (b. 1958) was commissioned by the California Band Directors Association (CBDA) to compose a work for their 50th Anniversary program in 2007. Wild Nights is a purely instrumental tone poem based on the poem by Emily Dickinson. There are many twists and turn in the composition, including a dark middle section, jazzy syncopated rhythms, and an exciting conclusion with two massive notes played by the entire ensemble.
Camille Saint-Saens (d. 1921) was a musical prodigy and began composing at an early age. The Danse Macabre (Dance of Death) was composed in 1874 during the height of the Romantic Era in music. Composers were fascinated with the idea of depicting “death” and macabre idea in music. In this work “Death” appears at midnight on Halloween and calls up the dead from the graves to dance for him until dawn when they return to their graves until the next year. Audiences found the piece disturbing and it was not well received. As time passed this piece began to find its way into popular culture, including cartoons, TV shows, and in the Winter Olympics of 2010!
The band transcription of this work is by Mark Hindsley.
John Williams (b. 1932) is considered by many to be the greatest film music composer of all time. The 1993 film Jurassic Park directed by Steven Spielberg is based on a novel my Michael Crichton in which dinosaurs are cloned and brought back to life. Williams wanted to compose music that would convey a “sense of awe and fascination”…the overwhelming happiness and excitement of seeing live dinosaurs”.
This stunning arrangement of the soundtrack is by Paul Lavender.
Modest Mussorgsky (d. 1881) was one of the original members of “The Five”, or “The Mighty Handful”. These composers were dedicated to creating original Russian art music based on Russian folktales, indigenous music, and establishing a new wave of Russian musical independence from Europe. The Night on Bare Mountain” was composed as tone poem describing the Witches Sabbath on St. John’s Eve (June 23).
“Subterranean sounds of supernatural voices…. Appearance of the spirits of darkness, followed by that of Satan himself…. Glorification of Satan and the celebration of the Black Mass…. The Sabbath Revels…. At the height of the orgies the bells of the village church, sounding in the distance, disperses the spirits of darkness…..Daybreak”
This work was featured prominently in Walt Disney’s 1940 film “Fantasia” and has enjoyed wide popularity ever since.
No other musical in the history of the theater has had as many performances on Broadway as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 hit “The Phantom of the Opera”.
Several memorable melodies from the show are included in this adaptation for the modern Concert Band by Warren Barker.
Chillers and Thrillers is subtitled “Themes of Suspense by John Williams”, and rightfully so. Music for several movie scores are featured in this seven minute musical montage, including Star Wars, The Witches of Eastwick, Jaws, Dracula, War of the Worlds, and Harry Potter.
Tom Wallace is a composer and arranger for the Arrangers Publishing Company in Nashville Tennessee. Over the years he has skillfully arranged music for many different occasions. In this case, it is music for Halloween. The House of Horrors contains many familiar melodies heard during this time of year. Only Mr. Wallace could arrange the music by J.S. Bach, Gounod, Mussorgsky, Dukas, and Chopin seamlessly into a coherent, and fun, selection for Concert Band.