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

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web.

In her thesis David Maslanka and the Natural World: Three Studies of Music for Wind Ensemble, Kate L. Sutton said “The music of American composer David Maslanka is informed by his deep connection to the natural world. This connection permeates his music and results in powerful works imbued with a wealth of spiritual and environmental meaning.” This week, we examine three compositions that make reference to specific places where the natural world had a powerful impact on David: California, Montana Music: Fantasy on a Chorale Tune, and Montana Music: Three Dances for Percussion.


Maslanka said that “California has always been a place of big dreams. The music of California celebrates the California dream space. There is tremendous beauty here – the forests, deserts, mountains and valleys, the ocean – and also the strength within the people and in the earth to meet the times that are upon us. Music lets us dream, and in that dream is the possibility of a new world, one in which humans live in harmony, within themselves, with all other people, with all other species, with the planet. Is this dream impossible? Are circumstances too complex? Will human nature never change? My answer to these questions is no. The dream starts somewhere. Let our music making be one such place.” Watch below as Mallory Thompson leads the 2016 California All-State High School Wind Symphony in the premiere performance of this work from February 13, 2016.

More info 

Montana Music: Fantasy on a Chorale Tune for Violin and Viola

According to Maslanka, “(The series of pieces named ‘Montana Music’) are separate pieces with no musical crossover, yet they all spring from a single root point which I feel to be the powerful spirit of life emanating from the Montana land. This spirit as I perceive it is a rich and complex thing: it is the vibrant life force with all its earth manifestations, yet along with it there is a sharp element of pain and urgency. My response to this force has been a deepened sense of the quality of the moment, a better understanding of the need to experience the moment fully, and then to release it without regret, and a deeper sense of the timeless as perceived through the shifting patterns of sound in time.”

Regarding Montana Music: Fantasy on a Chorale Tune, Maslanka said “This Fantasy is based on the Bach Chorale melody Lord God We Praise You. The melody feels like old Gregorian Chant and it’s ancient forthright character paralleled my feeling for the Montana land. The land is powerful and not merely scenic or ‘nice.’ The music is predominately vigorous, energetic, and edgy in character.” Watch below as Penny Thompson Kruse, Violin and Steven Kruse, Viola give a captivating performance of this music.

More info 

Montana Music: Three Dances for Percussion

Maslanka had an interesting beginning with this composition. In writing the program note after the music was finished, he said “At first I had difficulty composing this piece. Given the nearly unlimited possibilities in the percussion ensemble, I started with preconceived notions of all the sounds I would like to hear. The piece didn’t want to be any of those things and refused to be written until I opened myself to what wanted to come out. Then the piece came quickly and fairly smoothly. The resulting three slow movements are not something I could or would have preplanned. They are nocturnal, lunar, inward pieces, dedicated to the spirit of the earth, which speaks through them. Through this music I have a very personal vision of the slow dance of creation, transformation and rebirth.” Watch below as the Mustang High School Percussion Ensemble gives a riveting performance of this piece.

More info 

We would love to hear from you! If you know of any outstanding performances of David Maslanka’s music on the web, please email us at