Crown of Thorns

Crown of Thorns2017-03-08T19:41:28+00:00

Project Description

Percussion Ensemble
1991
15 min 

Grade 5

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Central Michigan University Percussion Ensemble, Robert Hohner, cond.
On the album The Percussion Music of David Maslanka

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Preview Score

Instrumentation

Required Percussion: 8 players

  • Glockenspiel
  • Vibraphone (2)
  • Marimba (4.0 oct)
  • Marimba (3) (4.3 oct)
  • Marimba (5.0 oct) (opt. Bass Marimba)

Program Note

The title “Crown of Thorns” is an obvious reference to Christ’s crown of thorns, but the name first came to me as a possible title for a piece from seeing a plant called “Crown of Thorns” at the New York Botanical Gardens. Crown of Thorns is a rambling, thorny desert plant from the Middle East, with small green leaves, and small, pretty red flowers. The rambling, interweaving, vine-like stems suggested music to me.

As I meditated on the words “Crown of Thorns”, and on the plant, and on the idea of a work for keyboard percussion ensemble, the following image arose:

a darkening sky
seven stars are visible:
the seven-starred halo
the golden light
the hands of blessing

The seven-starred halo is a transcended image of the crown of thorns. It is the crown of highest spiritual power arrived at through the greatest depth of suffering. The imagery is Christian, but the experience transcends religion, and is universal. The music is at times sober and reflective, but more often filled with a liberated energy and joy.

Program note by David Maslanka

Note to Conductors

Careful attention must be paid to the variable speeds and expressive qualities of the opening 29 measures. From that point on, and especially at m. 47, the tempo of ♩= 120 must be locked in place. There is a tendency to want to slow between mm. 99 and 118, and the corresponding place in the recapitulation, but these passages must be maintained at speed. At m. 144, the music suggests the possibility of a slower, more reflective play, but the tempo must be maintained at ♩= 104. Persistent attention to marked tempi will allow the long expressive line of the piece to emerge properly.

Further Reading

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 74, Time

19 November 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three of David’s works that contemplate the enigma of time: “At This Time” from Songs for the Coming Day, Symphony No. 10: The River of Time, and "A Song for the End of Time" from Song Book for Flute and Wind Ensemble.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 71, Slow Movements

29 October 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three of David’s compositions (of which there are literally dozens to choose from) that highlight some of his most beautiful writing in slower tempi: "Movement I" from Recitation Book, "Slow" from Symphony No. 7, and "Slow" from Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 70, Evening

22 October 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three of David’s compositions that traverse the evening landscape: "Evening Song" from Song Book for Alto Saxophone and Marimba, Evening Song for Horn and Piano, and "Our Prayer of Thanks" from A Carl Sandburg Reader.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 68, More New Performances of Saxophone Music

8 October 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three new performances of some of David’s best saxophone music: Songs for the Coming DayConcerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble, and David's transcription of J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations for Saxophone Quartet.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 59, Music For David

5 August 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three works by composers who have dedicated music to David and his memory: "After Maslanka" from Tribute Trio by Russell Peterson, Funeral Song for David Maslanka by Andrew Bockman, and Montis - Tribute to David Maslanka by Elliott Sorenson.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 57, Morning

22 July 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three of David's works that celebrate or look to the joy of morning: "When I cannot love I wait for morning" from Songs for the Coming Day, On This Bright Morning, and Morning Star.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 56, New Performances of Saxophone Quartet Music

15 July 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three new performances of saxophone quartet music: "Fanfare/Variations on Durch Adams Fall” from Recitation Book, "Inwardly" and "Dramatic" from Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Wind Ensemble, and "The soul is here for its own joy" from Songs for the Coming Day.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 55, Alison

8 July 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week we celebrate the life of Alison Matthews by featuring three of David's works that have a movement dedicated to her: "Alison" from Symphony No. 10, "Song for Alison" from Song Book for Alto Saxophone and Marimba, and "For Pretty Alison" from My Lady White.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 51, Peace

10 June 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature performances of three of David’s works inspired specifically to help us as listeners and performers around the world create peace in our communities: Peace, Angel of Mercy, and Hymn for World Peace.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 44, Songs Without Words

23 April 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three beautiful examples of David's "Songs Without Words," of which there are literally dozens to choose from: "Awakening" from Songs for the Coming Day, Evening Song, and "Lost" from Song Book for Alto Saxophone and Marimba.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 39, Dreams & Meditations

18 March 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three compositions that specifically mention "dreaming" or "meditation" in their title: A Child's Garden of Dreams, Movement I, Sea Dreams: Concerto for Two Horns and Wind Ensemble, Movement III, and Recitation Book, Movement I, "Broken Heart: Meditation on the chorale melody Der du bist drei in einigkeit."

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 7, Tribute

6 August 2018|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we remember the life of David Maslanka and Alison Matthews with unforgettable performances of Symphony No. 4, "Song for Alison" from Song Book for Alto Saxophone and Marimba, and Symphony No. 10: The River of Time.

Music in Life

18 April 2002|0 Comments

Remarks given on 18 April 2002 at Indiana University School of Music before a performance of the Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble. Other works on the concert included Montana Music: Chorale Variations and [...]

Music and Healing

7 April 1999|0 Comments

Remarks given before a performance of Montana Music: Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano. Music is specifically healing. I know that I am alive today, and essentially well, because of it. Healing through music is [...]

The roots and purpose of music

15 November 1992|0 Comments

Remarks given at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Nov.15.1992, before a performance of Symphony No.3. I want to give a few thoughts on the roots of music and its purpose in human life. Music comes supposedly [...]