Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 47, Rivers

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

One of the most familiar symbols or motifs that reoccurs in David Maslanka’s music is water. David called water “a cleansing and life-giving power.” Rivers are small, intimate sources from whence water flows. Many things of both a practical and a spiritual nature happen there: drinking, nourishing, washing, baptizing, cleansing, renewing, etc… Many stories and allusions of rivers found their way into David’s music, and this week we feature three of David’s compositions that explicitly reference this symbol: Symphony No. 9, Movement I, “Shall We Gather at the River,” Symphony No. 2, Movement II, “Deep River,” and Symphony No. 10: The River of Time, Movement II, “Mother and Boy Watching The River of Time.”

Symphony No. 9, Movement I, “Shall We Gather at the River”

From David’s Program Note:

Symphony No. 9 is a large collection of instrumental songs. There are many influences and underlying elements, but most of them cannot be explained in words. Rather than try, I will simply list some of the things at work:
Time: memory, passing of time, “We flew through the years hearing them rush under us” —W.S Merwin
Water: cleansing and life–giving power, Shall We Gather at the RiverWhale Story
Nature: our ground, river, ocean, chickadees
Grace: compassion, forgiveness, rest

Watch below as Peter Haberman leads the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Wind Symphony in a spectacular rendition of the first movement.

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Symphony No. 2, Movement II, “Deep River”

From David’s 2016 Program Note:

Nearly thirty years have passed since the premiere of Symphony No. 2, the first of my seven symphonies for wind ensemble. In that time I have come to recognize that issues of transformation are at the heart of my work, initially my personal issues of loss, grief, and rage, then knowing that my own change is the start for some element of outward movement, for change in the world. This is a long, slow process, but it is the requirement of our time. The crux of Symphony No. 2 is the river metaphor of the second movement: crossing over to the other side … death, yes, but also movement away from ego/self and toward compassion.

Watch below as David Thorton leads the Michigan State University Symphony Band in a thrilling interpretation of this work.

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Symphony No. 10: The River of Time, Movement II, “Mother and Boy Watching The River of Time”

From Matthew Maslanka’s Program Note:

Symphony No. 10 was commissioned by a consortium headed by Stephen K. Steele, Scott Hagen (University of Utah), and Onsby Rose (The Ohio State University). My father passed away while writing the work. I completed the composition based on his sketches.

The second movement’s title, “Mother and Boy Watching the River of Time,” comes from my father’s final pencil sketch of the same name. It depicts two small figures sitting on a river bank in front of a forest and mountain foothills. The music is largely a transcription of the second movement of the euphonium sonata he wrote for me, Song Lines.

Mother and Boy Watching the River of Time. Pencil on paper by David Maslanka (2017)

Watch below as David Kehler leads the Kennesaw State University Wind Ensemble in a gripping performance of this movement.

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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