100 years of “Second Suite in F”

I’ve received a number of complaints1 from people annoyed that the Wind Symphony always goes before the Symphony Band or Concert Band in spring concerts. Well, thanks to a settlement2 with the University Standing Committee on Music Performance Equality3, the Symphony Band and Concert Band go first tonight, April 18, with their final concert of the 2010-2011 academic year.

The concert honors the centennial of the publication of Gustav Holst’s Second Suite in F for Military Band, a big gun in the wind arsenal and the bane of generations of conducting students. (If you’ve forgotten why, you can download PDF versions of either the manuscript or published score here. Despite even the U.S.’s unreasonably lengthy copyright laws, Second Suite in F is firmly in the public domain now.)

The Concert Band performs Holst’s second and final suite for winds tonight, under the baton of Dr. Debra Traficante, who also directs Frank Ticheli’s An American Elegy (from 1999, a response to the Columbine tragedy) and John Cheetham’s 1986 A.B.A. Symphonic March, “Kitty Hawk.” The program opens with guest conductor Kyle Winn leading the ensemble in Robert Sheldon’s 2010 Sound Innovations Fanfare, a “bright and buoyant opener sure to grab your attention” that’s “filled with tuneful melodies, soaring lines, and fast-paced technical flourishes.”

After a brief intermission, the classic band literature continues with the Symphony Band. Brian Britt leads that group, whose players auditioned to gain membership, in Roger Nixon’s 1979 Pacific Celebration Suite, and Grainger’s lush wind classic Irish Tune from County Derry, better known to millions as the song “Danny Boy.” Guest conductor Brian Wolfe continues the Grainger with Country Gardens, and then Mr. Britt returns to finish the program with Michael Daugherty’s Desi (a tribute to Mr. Arnaz, but not leaning on the crutch of themes from his well-known tunes familiar to 60 years of I Love Lucy watchers), and John Mackey’s lovely Kingfishers Catch Fire, first heard in Sharp Hall in November 2008 in a Wind Symphony concert.

The concert begins at 8:00 PM tonight (April 18) in Sharp Hall, in Catlett Music Center on the northwest corner of the OU campus. Admission is free, so if you’re worn out by taxes or wildfires or whatever else, take some time for yourself tonight and support the student musicians in the process. You can peek at the program in advance here. And keep Wednesday night free, too, for that’s the Sutton Series Wind Symphony concert. I’ll write more about that tomorrow.

  1. To be precise, that number is “zero.”
  2. Not intended to be a factual statement.
  3. Note: not a real committee, invented for dramatic purposes.