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  • feste T h e P r e s i d e n T s O w n U n i T e d s TaT e s M a r i n e B a n d

    COlOnel MiChael J. COlBUrn, direCTOr

  • 2 3

    este. Festival. Fete. Fiesta. These words all derive from a

    common root, the Latin festivitas, and though the spelling may

    change slightly from language to language, the meaning is universal:

    a social gathering for the purposes of celebration, observance, and/

    or thanksgiving. From the earliest days of recorded history, we find

    evidence of the festival tradition, often ritualized and religious in

    nature. And music, usually present in support of dance, song, and

    drama, provides a common thread shared by festivals of nearly

    every culture and ethnicity. Because these festivals feature cultural

    traditions handed down through countless generations, the music

    also provides a window into the folk music traditions of each society.

    This recording offers music representative of the festival traditions

    of five different cultures: Russia (or more precisely, the former Soviet

    Union), Mexico, Poland (by way of France), Greece, and Rome. While

    the music certainly reveals the differences one would expect from

    such diverse cultures, the similarities are even more striking. The

    universal elements of a festivalthe exuberance, the gratitude, and

    the reverenceare present in this music, and serve to remind us of

    the commonalities of human existence.

    Cover: Caracalla and Geta, Bear Fight in the Coliseum: AD 203 (1907)Artist: Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema


  • Dmitri Shostakovich transcribed by MSgt Donald Patterson

    n 1954, a festival concert celebrating the thirty-seventh anniversary of the October

    Revolution was staged at Moscows Bolshoi Theatre. When chief conductor Vassili Nebolsin realized a few days before the event that he had no selection appropri-ate to open such a concert, he knew just the composer to solve his problem: Dmitri Shostakovich. Although best known as one of the premier symphonists of the twentieth century, a composer of some of the most tragic, complex, and sophisticated music of his generation, there was also a less serious side to Shostakovichs composi-tional personality. He wrote a substantial quantity of light music for stage and screen,

    and often at breakneck speed. In 1928 conductor and friend Nikolai Malko bet Shostakovich that he couldnt create a fully orchestrated setting of Vincent Youmans Tea for Two in less than an hour. Forty minutes later,

    the composer was putting the finishing touches on his clever and witty orchestra-tion, which he entitled Tahiti Trot. This arrangement became so popular in Russia that it was included as an entracte before the third act of Shostakovichs ballet The Golden Age, and was the only movement to be encored at every performance during its initial run!

    Although he didnt write Festive Overture quite as quickly, he did manage to complete the score in just three days. According to Lev Nikolayevich Lebedinsky, who was visiting the composer at the time:

    Shostakovich composed the Festive Overture before my very eyes. The speed with which he wrote was truly astounding. Moreover, when he wrote light music he was able to talk, make jokes and compose simultaneously, like the legendary Mozart. Dmitri Dmitryevich sat there scribbling away and the couriers came in turn to take away the pages while the ink was still wet. Two days later the

    Demonstration on October 17, 1905. 19071911Artist: Ilya Yefimovich Repin }

    dress rehearsal took place. I hurried down to the Theatre and I heard this brilliant effervescent work, with its vivacious energy spilling over like uncorked champagne.

    While Shostakovich derived inspiration for much of his light music from composers such as Jacques Offenbach, Franz Lehr, and Johann Strauss Jr., it was Mikhail

    Glinkas Overture to Russlan und Ludmilla that appears to be the chief inspiration for Festive Overture. The breakneck tempo, blistering technical passages, and beauti-fully lyric second theme are all striking similarities between the two works. Although Festive Overture is conventional in terms of style and structure, the occa-sional pungent harmonies and melodic/

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    Portrait of Dmitri ShostakovichCourtesy of G. Schirmer Archives


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    rhythmic quirks reveal Shostakovichs compositional DNA.

    Most concert band musicians of the last several decades have become acquainted with Festive Overture through Donald Hunsbergers classic setting published in 1965. Although Festive Overture was an immediate success in the Soviet Union, even a decade after its premire it was not well known in the United States. Hunsberger provides the following account of his discovery of the work:

    During the time I was teaching at SUNY Potsdam [19591961], Fred Fennell set me up with Sam Fox Music Publishers. The important contact there was Lewis Roth, who was one of their primary editors (also a Juilliard grad and very knowledgeable). In 1962 I had moved back to Rochester to fill in for Fred while he accompanied the Eastman Philharmonia on its U.S. State Department Tour, and thats when Lew Roth contacted me about the Shostakovich. He had moved from Sam Fox to Leeds (who later became MCA) and they had exclusive

    access to Soviet music through the Am-Rus contract. Lew sent a copy of Festive Overture to me, along with some Russian band scores of Prokofiev and some other material unknown to me at the time. I suggested transcribing Festive Overture and Lew said Go for it! We played the arrangement around Rochester and Ithaca, and it was published in 1965. In the later 1970s80s it was listed on national CBDNA programming polls as one of the top three works performedthe others being the Holst First Suite in E-flat and The Stars and Stripes Forever.

    Listeners accustomed to Hunsbergers setting may notice that the version transcribed by the Marine Bands Staff

    Arranger Master Sergeant Donald Patterson sounds considerably brighter in tone. Shostakovich scored Festive Overture in A major, a key that is conducive to rapid technique for orchestral instruments, but is not nearly as friendly to most band instruments. Hunsberger addressed this problem by lowering the music one half-step to the key of A-flat, a choice that yields a rich, dark orchestral timbre, but presents some technical challenges for some of the instruments. Patterson went in the opposite direction and raised the original by one half-step to B-flat. The chief advan-tage of Pattersons approach is that technical passages are more easily negotiated by all the instruments, thus allowing for a tempo more consistent with the brisker Presto one often hears in orchestral performances. While there is no doubt that Hunsbergers setting will continue to occupy its rightful position as the authoritative transcription of Festive Overture, we offer our own version as an alternate means of presenting Shostakovichs classic score to band audiences.

    Although FeStive overture wAS

    An iMMeDiAte SucceSS in the Soviet

    union, even A DecADe AFter itS

    PreMire it wAS not well known

    in the uniteD StAteS.


  • feste 98 feste

    h. owen reed

    n 1948 American composer H. Owen Reed applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship to

    compose music while on sabbatical in Mexico. One of the projects in his application was a band work of symphonic dimensions to be premired by twenty-first Director Major William F. Santelmann and the U.S. Marine Band. This element of his proposal resulted from a friendly meeting between composer and conductor when the Marine Band visited the campus of Michigan State University, where Reed was a faculty member. According to the composer, When the Marine Band passed through East Lansing on tour, I took advantage of the opportunity to twist Santelmanns arm. After the Guggenheim award came through, I spent several days in Washington, D.C., visiting with him there.

    The fellowship allowed Reed to spend five months in Mexico, and the composer used the time to collect folk songs, study the musical traditions of the resident cultures, and assimilate these influences into his own music. During his time in Cuernavaca,

    The 15th annual National Cinco de Mayo Festival at Sylvan Theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument Taken May 5, 2007Courtesy of dbking (Flickr)


    Reed encountered the book Mexico by Stuart Chase, a text that he credits as the inspiration for La Fiesta Mexicana. He cites the following episode from chapter six as especially relevant to his music:

    At Tasco [sic], where Borda built his baroque but lovely cathedral, I saw the famous tiger dance. It was performed in the courtyard of a hillside chapel by a group of Indians arrayed in masks and special costumes, to the music of drum and pipe. . . . For hours the pipe wove its primitive tune, the drum thumped its stirring, monotonous rhythm, and the dancers, surrounded by a dense ring of enchanted Indians, stamped out the long and involved story of the tiger hunt. At its conclusion, dancers and spectators filed into the chapel and listened to the priest perform mass, while little boys in towers turned the great bells over and over. The mass finished,

    Portrait of H. Owen ReedCourtesy of Mary Reed, H. Owen Reed }

  • feste 11

    everybody repaired to the churchyard again, ate and drank at little booths that had sprung up like mushrooms, discharged fireworks, listened to the village band, gambled with grains of corn on pictures, and watched itiner-ant acrobats perform on bars and wires strung to the church wall itself. I tried with no success to picture such a scene in front of any Catholic church I had ever seen