Articles

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 39, Dreams & Meditations

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three compositions that specifically mention "dreaming" or "meditation" in their title: A Child's Garden of Dreams, Movement I, Sea Dreams: Concerto for Two Horns and Wind Ensemble, Movement III, and Recitation Book, Movement I, "Broken Heart: Meditation on the chorale melody Der du bist drei in einigkeit."

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 38, Recent Maslanka CD Releases

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three new recordings of favorite works: Tone Studies, Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Wind Ensemble, and First Light.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 35, David Maslanka – The Composition Teacher

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we take a look at three of the many pupils David worked with over the years as well as one of their compositions: Symphony No. 3, "For David" by Kimberly K. Archer, This is Our Joyful Hour by Kevin Krumenauer, and Heroes from the Sea by Onsby C. Rose.

By |2019-02-18T18:23:22+00:0018 February 2019|Composing, Featured, Maslanka Weekly|

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 16, Lesser-Known Works for Saxophone & Saxophone Quartet

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, exceptional performances of Peace, Tone Studies, Movement V, "Wie Bist Du, Seele?" and David's transcription of Goldberg Variations for Saxophone Quartet.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 14, California & Montana

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, sensational performances of California, Montana Music: Fantasy on a Chorale Tune, and Montana Music: Three Dances for Percussion.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 12, The Clarinet

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, fantastic performances of Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble, Little Symphony on the name BArnEy CHilDS, and Desert Roads: Four Songs for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 11, The Wind Quintet

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, phenomenal performances of Quintet for Winds No. 3, Movement I, Quintet for Winds No. 1, Movement 1, and the entirety of Quintet for Winds No. 2.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 7, Tribute

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we remember the life of David Maslanka and Alison Matthews with unforgettable performances of Symphony No. 4, "Song for Alison" from Song Book for Alto Saxophone and Marimba, and Symphony No. 10: The River of Time.

David Maslanka: an introduction

What do I find interesting?

I am a constant and wide-ranging reader. My undergrad and graduate work was almost all music, with just minimum requirements in other areas. Since that time I have done extensive reading in many topics, including history, psychology, anthropology, religion, mythology and poetry. I read very little about music! History can give the facts and big ideas about an age, but poetry opens the soul, allowing an immediate and intimate engagement with people of other times.

My reading, like my composing, is not preplanned. I go where my interest pulls me. Over time it has focused on the issue of war, and with that, the foundational issue of human violence: What is it in each individual, what in society? What is the nature of war? How is violence transformed in the individual and in the world? Violence cannot be avoided or eliminated, no matter how much we may pray for peace. On the other hand, it is possible actively to work with the energy of violence. I have come to understand that violence can be transformed in composing and performing music. Players and audiences come to a unified sense of well-being. The deepest insight I can offer is this: you cannot hate while making music.

Two stories on this theme:

No. 1

I traveled to Beijing, China in July of 2016 at the invitation of Li Fangfang, founder and music director of the Beijing Wind Symphony, and the Asia-Pacific Band Directors Association which was holding its 19th annual conference. Bands are […]

By |2017-12-17T11:59:25+00:0027 September 2016|Featured, Uncategorized|

Maslanka in China

David Maslanka shakes the hand of Li Fangfang after a powerful performance of Symphony No. 4 by the Beijing Wind Orchestra at the National Centre for the Performing Arts. Li invited David to participate in the 2016 Asia Pacific Band Directors Association Conference.

By |2016-12-09T23:08:45+00:006 August 2016|Featured, Travel|

Honorary Doctorate from St. Olaf College

David Maslanka was honored with an honorary doctorate by St. Olaf College. Here’s the entire ceremony:

The following is the full text of Dr. Timothy Mahr’s and David Maslanka’s remarks.

Dr. Timothy Mahr’s remarks

[starts at 11:50]

On the nomination of the faculty, and with the approval of the St. Olaf Board of Regents, it is my pleasure to present Dr. David Maslanka as a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.

Our world needs artists. We live in extremely contentious times full of conundrums that seemingly defy solution. The fine arts have long been a vital means of discovering the essence of being human and penetrating the obfuscations that bar deeper understanding. We struggle to know the outer and the inner worlds. The best artists provide revelations to us all, if only we allow them this opportunity by fully engaging their work. Our honored guest, Dr. David Maslanka, is indeed one of these artists. With his music, he explores a full range of emotional expression, as we heard in the excerpt we just performed. His music invites listeners to look deeply within while also lifting our hearts to the concerns of others: sublime and simple serenity is balanced by rushing riots of rage or exuberant exultations. He encapsulates the human condition within artistic statements that challenge but ultimately uplift.

Esteemed colleagues across the spectrum of music-making affirm Dr. Maslanka’s standing in today’s musical world. A prolific composer, his compositional voice resonates strongly with audiences. Dr. Maslanka is one […]

By |2016-12-09T23:08:45+00:005 August 2016|Angel of Mercy|

Angel of Mercy – working with Dr. Tim Mahr and the St. Olaf Band

On Feb. 4 2016, I traveled from New York City to meet Tim Mahr and the St. Olaf Band at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, New Jersey. We were hosted by director of bands Chris Wilhjelm.

Rehearsing Angel of Mercy with the St. Olaf Band and Dr. Tim Mahr in Montvale, NJ Rehearsing Angel of Mercy with the St. Olaf Band and Dr. Tim Mahr in Montvale, NJ

The St. Olaf Band had been on tour and had done at least six performances of the piece before I heard the music for the first time at Chris Wilhjelm’s school. We had only an hour to rehearse. Rehearsing Angel of Mercy with the St. Olaf Band and Dr. Tim Mahr in Montvale, NJ Rehearsing Angel of Mercy with the St. Olaf Band and Dr. Tim Mahr in Montvale, NJ

This was only a beginning time of my hearing into the music, and helping the band fully to embrace it. They were playing well but they were still searching for the voice of the piece. The St. Olaf Band bassoons: (Left to Right) Joshua Kosberg, Colin Scheibner, Eliza Madden. The bassoons open Angel of Mercy with a gorgeous soli chorale. The St. Olaf Band bassoons: (Left to Right) Joshua Kosberg, Colin Scheibner, Eliza Madden. The bassoons open Angel of Mercy with a gorgeous soli chorale.

The music wasn’t complete in my […]

By |2016-12-09T23:08:45+00:008 March 2016|Angel of Mercy, Featured, Rehearsing|

January Update

Midwest 2015

Midwest Banner
Maslanka Press exhibited at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago this past December for the first time. We were excited to welcome so many enthusiastic friends to the back corner of the McCormick Center. We expect this to be the first of many appearances at festivals and conventions across the United States and around the world.
David talks with guests at the new booth in Chicago. David talks with guests at the new booth in Chicago.

New Articles

David Maslanka and Sam Ormson
Sam Ormson has shared his extraordinary journey with David’s music. Read it here.

We’ve also posted a new interview with David where he gives some background on his life and work.

Death and the Maiden Orchestration

Death and the Maiden title
David recently found the fully-orchestrated score to Death and the Maiden with a the original libretto. We are exploring putting together a new production of the work. It’s early days yet, but there are some very promising signs. We’ve updated the work’s page with the score, libretto and more information about the piece.

New Program Notes

Symphony No. 2 title

David has written a new program note for Symphony No. 2, reflecting on the last thirty years.

A Litany Title

By |2016-12-09T23:08:45+00:0019 January 2016|News|

8 Questions for David Maslanka

The following is from an email exchange with Natasha Rotondaro, a grade 12 student from Emily Carr Secondary School in Vaughn, Ontario

Natasha Rotondaro: What is your musical background?

David Maslanka: I began clarinet studies at age nine. As a high school student I took lessons at the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA, and played in the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra. I have a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music where I also began my studies in composition. My Masters and Doctorate are from Michigan State University in music theory and composition. I taught for twenty years in universities in New York State and New York City, and for the past 25-plus years I have been a freelance composer, living in Missoula, MT.

NR: What do you find to be the greatest challenge of your occupation?

DM: There are many high challenges in the composing life. Probably the greatest is having to start the composition of each new piece without any clear idea of what it is. I know , of course, that a piece might be for band, or for flute and piano, but there is no way to know why a piece has to be what it is until it begins to speak its own voice. So the challenge is the ability to listen for this unknown voice, and the patience to work until that voice is exactly right.

NR: What are the common character traits of those successful in your field?

DM: I would say […]

By |2016-12-09T23:08:45+00:002 January 2016|Composing, Interview, Mass|

Accessible Works, Updated Music, and WASBE 2015 Wrap-up

Works for Younger Wind Ensembles

We’ve just posted a two-part series going over David’s more accessible works for wind ensemble. Read part 1, talking about how directors might think about selecting new music and part 2, a listing (in order of difficulty) of works with commentary by David himself.

New Works

Saint Francis (2015) 18′ Grade 5-6 for wind ensemble. (Newly added)

Hosannas (2015) 30′ Grade 5-6 for wind ensemble. (Newly added)

Hymn for World Peace (2014) 12′ Grade 4 for wind ensemble. (Recording added)

Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble (2014) 28′ Grade 5 (Recording added)

Letter to Martin (2015) 25′ for reader, brass quartet, and piano. (Newly Added)

Variants on a Hymn Tune (1994) 5′ Grade 2.5 for solo euphonium and wind ensemble. (Recording, engraved score added)

World Music (2002) 9′ for orchestra (Recording added)

Montana Music: Chorale Variations (1993) 16′ for wind ensemble. (Recording added)

Tears: Montana Music No. 5 (1994) 12′ for bassoon, viola, cello, and piano (Recording added)

A Tuning Piece: Songs of Fall and Winter (1995) 18′ Grade 4 for wind ensemble (Recording and Program Note added)

WASBE 2015

Performances

David had three fantastic performances at the 2015 World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles in San Jose, California from July 13-18. On Monday July 13, the Brooklyn Wind Symphony outdid themselves with a stunning rendition of his Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble. Jeff Hodes was wonderful on clarinet and Jeff Ball directed the group to great success. On Saturday, July 18, the Amador Valley High School wind ensemble with […]

By |2016-12-09T23:08:45+00:0023 July 2015|News|

Some Thoughts on Choosing Music for Younger Wind Ensembles

These are David’s thoughts on choosing music. You can find the annotated repertoire list here.

I have never been in charge of a school band program, but over the past 40-plus years I have seen hundreds of programs close-up as guest composer. While I do understand the need to teach specific aspects of music, I strongly advise against the use of so-called “educational” music. The core to the development of a band is the committed interest of its players, and that interest is captured by real music.

And what is real music? It is music that you personally love, that excites and interests you. That is the key issue: do you love it? If you do, your students will respond. If you do not love the music you are bringing to your students, there is no way that they will love it, and no way that they will perform with real enthusiasm or conviction. Let your students help you. They are thoroughly plugged into media sources and are totally up on wind band music that they love and want to play.

The biggest inhibiting factor in the selection of music is fear: my band can’t. I have seen it time and time again: the biggest inhibitor of the ability of a band to play is the conductor’s fear of failure – my band can’t. The grading system offers some guidelines, but these are not a rigid box. Look first to the music that you love, then begin to plot how you can […]

By |2016-12-09T23:08:45+00:0016 July 2015|Hell's Gate, In Memoriam, Reference|

The Nature of Consciousness: Correspondence

We’d love to encourage you to write to David with questions or comments that you have about his music. He loves hearing your thoughts and feelings. Get in touch on the Contact page.

June 6, 2015: Mark Weidenaar wrote David with the following question:

How does your knowledge of consciousness impact the music you write, and how do you feel your music has evolved along with your own personal journey?

David responded as follows:

Your question is pretty much all-inclusive! Not so easy to get at, but I will try to give some ideas. I don’t think of music as depicting consciousness but as a manifestation of it. Music is not “about” consciousness, but the thing itself in sound. When I am working with performers I might use images and stories to give them a personal context, but fundamentally and persistently I am giving them permission to allow the full value of each musical element. The permission idea is a really important one. I can give them the safe place to open themselves fully. Ideally this is what conductors do. It takes a centered sense of self, and a developed musical imagination. The key issue here is that each musical moment can and must be actively imagined by the conductor, and through that, consciously opened in the players. Much music making is relatively passive, without full conscious engagement by the performers. You can get okay performances, but it will be the happy and relatively rare accident when real heat shows up.

The question of […]

By |2016-12-09T23:08:45+00:009 June 2015|A Child's Garden of Dreams, Correspondence|

Restoring the Trombone Concerto’s original Hard Mode

In the second movement of David Maslanka’s Concerto for Trombone and Wind Ensemble, there is an extended and demanding technical section from m. 108 to m. 256, about four minutes of nearly continuous playing. It rests in the upper tessitura of the trombone range, mostly between D3 and C4, and alternates between very loud staccato sixteenth passages and soft, high lyrical playing.

The version that is currently published and recorded is one that was cut down due to technical considerations. I thought it was time that soloists had the opportunity to perform the work as it was originally conceived. This new, restored version increases the difficulty in execution: it requires extremely clean technique at a high, constant power level in a very tiring range for a long time, culminating in a protracted shout.

During the initial preparation of the piece, technical realities forced David to reduce the difficulty of this section: extended sixteenth-note passages were broken up with eighth notes, some passages were taken down an octave, and cuts were made to reduce endurance challenges.

This had the effect of somewhat reducing the impact of the section. Its initial statement (mm. 109-111) is developed throughout in various ways.

Trombone Concerto mm 109-111 This is the primary building block of the section starting at m. 108.

The removed sixteenths in the immediately-following development weaken the connection with the initial statement. When they are restored, the power of the second phrase becomes […]

By |2016-12-09T23:08:46+00:0030 January 2015|Concerto for Trombone and Wind Ensemble|

Getting Maximum Benefit from the Maslanka Chorales: a practical guide for directors

The Maslanka Collected Chorales are an extraordinary tool to help develop blend, balance, intonation, and ensemble cohesion in groups ranging from large symphonic bands and orchestras to small chamber groups or sectionals. With a daily 5-10 minutes per rehearsal you will hear a significant improvement in melodic and harmonic pitch awareness in your players.

Dr. Stephen K. Steele, former director of bands at Illinois State University and one of the foremost proponents of David Maslanka’s music, offers his strategies and techniques for getting the most out of this fantastic music.

Chorale use

There is absolutely no end to the possibilities in developing the use of these chorales. The following are a few suggestions: in like instrument sectionals or chamber ensembles; mixed instrument sectionals and/or chamber ensembles; full ensemble. I recommend that each chorale be used for at least one week before moving on to the next.

Full Ensemble chorale use

Rehearsal time is precious and must be used in the most beneficial ways possible. I found that beginning each rehearsal with a chorale reading facilitated the ensembles’ sense of balance/blend/pitch; created a center of being and sound; was a point of departure; and established a focus for the rehearsal. These chorales helped to build the ensemble tone quality through diligent daily use.

There are certainly various approaches to the use of the chorales, limited primarily by the conductor’s imagination. What I found to work best was to begin the rehearsal by reading a chorale without comment while intently listening and encouraging the […]

By |2016-12-09T23:08:46+00:001 October 2014|Collected Chorale Settings|

Music for an Atomic Age: David Maslanka’s “Eternal Garden: Four Songs for Clarinet and Piano”

Dr. Kip Franklin’s doctoral dissertation on David’s Eternal Garden: Four Songs for Clarinet and Piano begins with an overview of David’s life, his compositional style, and the commissioning process for this work. Part two presents a thorough analysis of each of the four songs, followed by transcripts of interviews with the composer and a list of David’s compositions featuring the clarinet.

Music for an Atomic Age: David Maslanka’s “Eternal Garden: Four Songs for Clarinet and Piano”
PDF, 12.3MB

Abstract:
David Maslanka has an established place as a composer of twenty-first century wind music. To date, his compositional output includes eight symphonies for band, several concertos, four wind quintets, and numerous works for solo instrument and piano. His latest work for clarinet and piano, Eternal Garden, features musical and emotional depth which performers must express. Beyond an analysis of the musical elements contained in the piece, this document conveys a firsthand account of the vital role between Maslanka and those who perform his music. The first part of the document discusses Maslanka’s life, education, and compositional process. Part two is devoted solely to analyzing the compositional components and extra-musical essence of Eternal Garden.