PSYWE Honors Deep-Rooted “Traditions” for Season’s Final Concert—Before Heading to Austria!
Before Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble (PSYWE) leaves on its first international tour in July, the talented young musicians will conclude their milestone 10th anniversary season by paying homage to the band tradition, as well as the ensemble’s history in the Pacific Symphony family. The concert, “Traditions,” kicks off with Paul Basler’s thrilling work, “Carnival,” followed by Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Fervent is My Longing” (Chorale Prelude) and “Little” Fugue in G Minor. At the center are two cornerstone works for wind ensemble—Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “English Folk Ssong Suite” and Gustav Holst’s First Suite in E-flat—to celebrate the wind band culture’s deep-rooted tradition. “Radetzky March” by Johann Strauss Sr. concludes the concert on a victorious note.
Led by Music Director Gregory X. Whitmore and featuring guest conductor and former PSYWE Music Director Joshua Roach, the Wind Ensemble performs its season finale on Sunday, May 21, at 1 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors, this season’s concerts are free to attend, but tickets are required. To reserve a general admission seat, call (714) 755-5799 or CLICK HERE.
“Our concert, ‘Traditions’ is exactly that—an opportunity to celebrate the tradition of the wind ensemble—and our band’s place within the Pacific Symphony family,” says Maestro Whitmore. “We open with Paul Basler’s ‘Carnival,’ a work transcribed for winds that was originally composed for orchestra. While not overly programmatic, Basler’s work illustrates the experience of the amusement park, with all of its excitement, chaos and spectacle—something we in Orange County can attest to with Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm in our backyard!"
The theme of PSYWE’s 10th anniversary season, “Collaborations & Celebration,” is seen throughout the final performance, beginning with the fast, joyous piece by Basler that is often featured as a celebratory concert opener for upper-level bands. Basler is a modern-day composer whose wind and percussion tour de force conjures images and sounds of American small-town carnivals. Following “Carnival” are two important wind works that stretch back a few centuries. Composed by Bach (1685-1750)—unquestionably one of the top composers and probably the best Baroque era composer to have ever lived—are “Fervent is My Longing,” Chorale Prelude, and “Little” Fugue in G Minor. The elements used throughout these two pieces demonstrate Bach’s deeper understanding of the complexity of music. They also hold a special place in the heart of wind bands.
“The wind setting of Bach’s ‘Fervent’ and ‘Little’ Fugue represent two staples in the wind band repertory,” explains Whitmore. “As the theme of the concert is ‘Traditions,’ I felt it important to represent all facets of significant works for the concert band. The Frank Goldman Band was the first to champion this particular arrangement for winds, and the work has stuck ever since. Additionally, as the wind band is a living organ, it is always terrific to perform Bach’s organ works in concert.
The concert continues with two important works for winds: Vaughn Williams’ ‘English Folk Song Suite’ and Holst’s ‘First Suite in E-flat. “In keeping with the themes of this concert and concert season, I have invited Joshua Roach back to lead the PSYWE in the piece by Vaughn Williams,” says Whitmore. “Drawing a lineage to the PSYWE’s past is important to me, so inviting my predecessor to return to lead the ensemble is an important aspect to this season, as a part of celebrating the rich tradition of the PSYWE."
Vaughn Williams (1872-1958) was an influential British composer whose early adventures collecting folk songs in the English countryside profoundly influenced his later compositions. Along with Holst, his works for wind band form a foundation for the serious literature in that medium. Holst (1874-1934) was also a British composer whose music was influenced by English folk songs, but also Hindu mysticism, late-Romantic era composers like Strauss and Delius, and avant-garde composers of his time like Stravinsky and Schoenberg. The First Suite is particularly important to the later development of artistic music for wind band. Holst wrote it for an ensemble that came to define the instrumentation that bands would use for the next century and beyond. Its appeal is in its simplicity and artistry.
Drawing the concert to a triumphant close is the Radetzky March, composed by Johann Strauss Sr., who was commissioned to write the piece to commemorate Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz’s victory at the Battle of Custoza. First performed in Vienna at the end of August 1848, it soon became quite popular among regimented marching soldiers. The tone is more celebratory than martial, and an apt conclusion for “Traditions.'