Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web.
Composers have dedicated pieces of music to others for centuries. Dedications can certainly serve as remembrance pieces for those who have passed away, but they can equally serve to honor the life of someone still living or perhaps commemorate a special milestone or achievement. This week, we examine three of David’s works that were written as dedications: Angel of Mercy, In Memoriam, and Traveler.
Angel of Mercy
Angel of Mercy was commissioned by Timothy Mahr and the St. Olaf Band in honor of the band’s 125th anniversary. Maslanka dedicated this piece to them “with profound gratitude and respect.”
Maslanka said that “Angel of Mercy is a prayer for peace in our troubled time. Three Chorale melodies are the foundation for this music: ‘O Fear, Disquiet, and Apprehension,’ ‘Oh, How Blest Are Ye,’ and ‘I Leave All Things to God’s Direction.'” Watch below as Allen Kennedy leads the Middle Tennessee State University Wind Ensemble in a powerful rendition of this music.
On March 5, 1988, Susan Eck Lichtenwalter passed away at the age of 44 following a thirteen-month illness. Shortly after her premature death, the students of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma at the University of Texas at Arlington approached her husband, Director of Bands Ray C. Lichtenwalter, expressing their desire to honor her memory by commissioning a major work for the UTA Wind Ensemble and the wind band repertoire. In Memoriam is the result of the students’ expression of love and caring.
From Ray C. Lichtenwalter’s original Program Note:
A graduate of Westminster Choir College and a life-long participant in church music as an organist and choir director, Susan’s life exemplified her unswerving Christian faith and her commitment to music as a vehicle for that expression. As a motif for this work, Mr. Maslanka has chosen one of her favorite hymn tunes: “Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten” (“If you but trust in God to guide you”). The chorale prelude setting for organ by J.S. Bach was frequently used in Susan’s musical programming.
The opening declamatory statement of the hymn-tune by the brass and percussion, and then by the full ensemble, sets the stage for a work which dramatically captures the conflict and celebration of human life and emotion. The main body of In Memoriam is a large fantasia interweaving variations on the hymn-tune with related thematic material. The quiet conclusion continues the variation process.
Watch below and proceed to 4:08 as Kevin Sedatole leads the Michigan State University Wind Symphony in a moving performance of this work.
Traveler was commissioned in 2003 by the University of Texas at Arlington Band Alumni Association, the Delta Sigma Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi and the Gamma Nu Chapter of Tau Beta Sigma, in honor of the career contributions of Ray C. Lichtenwalter, retiring Director of Bands at UT Arlington.
According to Maslanka, “The idea for Traveler came from the feeling of a big life movement as I contemplated my friend’s retirement. Traveler begins with an assertive statement of the chorale melody ‘Nicht so traurig, nicht so sehr’ (‘Not so sad, not so much’). The chorale was not chosen for its title, although in retrospect it seems quite appropriate. The last part of life need not be sad. It is an accumulation of all that has gone before, and a powerful projection into the future – the potential for a tremendous gift of life and joy. And so the music begins with energy and movement, depicting an engaged life in full stride. At the halfway point, a meditative quiet settles in. Life’s battles are largely done; the soul is preparing for its next big step. Ray has been a close friend and champion of my music for many years, and it was a great pleasure for me to writ this piece for his final concert.” Watch below as Sverre Olsrud leads Opus 82 in a heartfelt performance of this work.
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