I recently had the opportunity to spend some money at J.W. Pepper, and couldn’t be happier with this new music.
Midnight Mission by Brian Balmages/FJH Music. This has been turning out to be a real favorite this season. Read my previous comments here. One warning: If your group has too many alto saxophones or too few flutes, be careful of balance in this piece.
Starfire March by Bruce Pearson from the Standard of Excellence First Performance collection. An easy march my students love to play. It is arranged with too much verbatim repetition, but the melody is catchy. My groups almost always cheer when I call this piece, and I frequently hear complaints when we don’t rehearse it.
Olympia by Brian Balmages/FJH Music. Balmages’ writing here is very harmonically colorful, yet the accidentals are playable by young students. I had really been looking forward to working on this one with my groups, but I have been disappointed with the results so far. My groups’ lack of full instrumentation contributes to the less than ideal outcome, so I would advise anyone considering this wonderful work to consider that factor.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious arranged by Michael Sweeney/Hal Leonard. An easy arrangement of the classic Mary Poppins song. This one has been working well for my groups, but is being overshadowed by some of the other titles this season.
Temple of Darkness by Rob Grice/FJH Music. Another one my students can’t seem to get enough of. It’s one of those pieces that makes a young group sound impressive. It rehearses pretty easily too, so it doesn’t tax the students’ patience… or mine!
Sahara by Roland Barrett/FJH Music. Again, another one which makes a young group sound impressive and rehearses easily. It includes an aleatoric passage which initially intimidated my students. They’ve had a little trouble grasping the concept, and it has been surprising how much time it has taken to rehearse something which is meant to sound improvisatory. But the students love it.
Aunt Rhodie’s Appetite by Joseph Compello/Carl Fischer Music. This arrangement uses actors and a narrator to link several familiar beginning band tunes like Hot Cross Buns and Go Tell Aunt Rhodie. Although it doesn’t necessarily make a young band sound more mature, it does serve to lighten up a concert program. Audience members who are more likely to enjoy drama rather than instrumental music will appreciate this choice.
If you have a comment or would like to suggest a title, by all means do here.