Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 21, Joyful Music

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

David Maslanka said that “In the many years of my composing, I have been drawn as if magnetically to the themes of loss, grief, and transformation. They have been personal issues for me, but all along the way have toughed something deeper as well.” Many people love and strongly identify with the music of David Maslanka particularly because he had the ability to write music that was honest in its attempt to deal with the reality of living in a world full of loss and grief – a reality that we all experience. But those who knew David also knew that he had a heart full of joy for the earth and for people from all cultures and backgrounds. This week, we take a look at some of the most joyful music from David’s vast catalog: On This Bright Morning, Golden Light, Morning Star, and Illumination.

On This Bright Morning

According to Maslanka, “On this Bright Morning was written for a consortium of Montana high school bands. The focus group was the second band at Missoula’s Hellgate High School, the thinking being that this second band in a good music program would represent the technical development of the average high school band around the state. The music is bright and engaging, and at the same time quite soulful. It asks players and conductors to commit fully to a very direct and powerful personal feeling. On This Bright Morning acknowledges the struggle, and the feelings of pain and loss in times of transition, but embodies the pure joy of realizing the bigger life. On this bright morning, life is new, life is possible.” Watch below as Björn Waldebrink leads Hemvärnets Musikkår Västmanland in a moving performance of this work.

More info 

Golden Light

Maslanka remarked that, “Golden Light is an energetic and joyous piece which evolved out of brisk walks in the woods of upper Manhattan near which I lived for many years. The title was inspired by the play of sunlight in the trees, especially in late afternoons. The mildly hypnotic state induced by walking at a rapid pace brought about a music of short, repetitive melodic fragments and interweaving polyrhythms. The influence is distinctly traditional African where many voices arise out of a stable tonality to weave and blend together.” Watch below as the Mercer Island High School Wind Ensemble gives a stunning performance of this music.

More info 

Morning Star

Maslanka said that “Morning Star was a surprise to me. In planning for the piece I came up with a great many ideas – enough for three or four pieces. When it came time to compose the piece I suddenly discorded all of that material and went with a little tune that came to mind. The result is a happy piece, a concept which does not usually attach itself to my music. Morning Star is about beginnings: the dawning of a new day, the opening of a new hall, the beginning of adult life for the young people who premiered the piece, and for those who are playing it now.” Watch below as the Grand Ledge High School Wind Symphony gives a thrilling performance of this piece.

More info 


“Illumination” means lighting up and bringing light. Maslanka said, “I am especially interested in composing music for young people that allows them a vibrant experience of their own creative energy. A powerful experience of this sort stays in the heart and mind as a channel for creative energy, no matter what the life path. Music shared in community brings this vital force to everyone. Illumination is an open and cheerful piece in a quick tempo, with a very direct A-B-A song form.” Watch below as Jamie Nix leads the 2017 All-Virginia Concert Band in an extraordinary rendering of this work.

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