Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 62, Memories

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

It is well-documented that music is not only powerful in terms of human emotion but also in its ability to influence cognition. Music has the ability to transport us to another place and another time. It is the mechanism whereby time travel is truly achieved.
Either directly or indirectly, David’s music always seems to transport the listener to another sphere of existence. There is something about it that grabs us in a visceral way and we are often caught off-guard. Do you remember the first time you heard David’s music? Do you remember how it made you feel? What can you recall about that time in your life? When you listen to the same music today, does it bring back specific memories? Does it conjure up images of the past? This week, we feature three of David’s compositions that seem to focus on the memory of something or someone through the passage of time: Traveler, Beloved, and “In Loving Memory” from Song Book for Flute and Wind Ensemble.


From David’s Program Note:

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. Ray has been a close friend and champion of my music for many years, and it was a great pleasure for me to write this piece for his final concert.

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.

Watch below as the Zalymanian Wind Orchestra (from Thailand) gives a magnificent performance of this work.

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From David’s Program Note:

Beloved grows out of my [group] of “remembrance” pieces. These include Requiem for wind ensemble, A Solemn Music for solo marimba, and Remember Me for cello and 19 players. Each of these pieces has the quality of resolution of deep issues of past trauma or grief – both my own – and some element of huge world traumas such as Hiroshima or the Holocaust. Beloved feels both personal, and larger than personal. It has the quality of one side of a conversation – what you have to say to your beloved, especially one departed.

Watch below as Brianna Ware gives a moving rendition of this music.

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Song Book for Flute and Wind Ensemble – III. In Loving Memory

From David’s Program Note:

Song Book for Flute and Wind Ensemble is a set of pieces that are song-like – that is, intimate and expressive, though not necessarily quiet. The solo flute feels like a voice to me, a voice which has a complex story to tell, in the form of musical dreams.

The 371 Four-Part Chorales by J. S. Bach have been a long-time focal point for my study and meditation. These chorales are the models for melodic and harmonic movement used by every beginning music theory student. I had my first encounter with them as a college freshman in 1961. Ten years ago I returned to singing and playing them as a daily warm-up for my composing. In that time I have come to experience the chorales as touchstones for dream space. I have used many of them as the jumping off point for my own compositions. The feeling is one of opening an unmarked door and being suddenly thrust into a different world. The chorales are the doors.

Watch below as Stephen K. Steele leads Kimberly McCoul Risinger and the Illinois State University Wind Symphony in a magnificent 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