Opening: Care must be taken to observe marked tempo and soft dynamics.
20: ♩= 72, no slower.
26: Powerful crescendo to a full f at 31, and then no let-down of dynamics.
37 and on: Sustain each tone for the full value without diminuendo.
55: ♩= 76, no slower.
61 and on: Full-bodied dynamics, f-ff, are required. Experiment with f and ff to go beyond what you normally accept for these dynamic values.
97: Make the fermata intentionally longer than you would normally.
98: In time, ♩= 72, not slower; play it straight.
The tempo of ♩= 184 is crucial. At a slower tempo the music is labored, and is actually harder to play. It may be necessary to work out certain passages at slower tempos, but in every rehearsal always come back to reading some portion of the music at ♩= 184. It is surprising how quickly every band grabs onto this tempo and runs with it.
From the beginning, constantly experiment with the ffdynamic to find its full value. Many conductors fear making a bad sound, but until players actually experience the piercing nature of a true fortissimo they will not understand the energy of this music, or have the ability to produce a beautiful and balanced tone at a high dynamic level. No fear!
66: Trumpets can play “normal” rather than “flutter” for better rhythmic clarity
72: A true p dynamic.
122: A true p dynamic in winds; pp in piano and percussion.
173-185: Cue sax and then clarinet, but don’t conduct the piano. Let the player play out the part on his/her own.
259-260: Work these measures very carefully for “slowing … drastically”.
261: Tempo must be at ?? = 84, not slower. Long tones must be sustained full value at ff – no dying away.
276-278: As much drama as you can find; long sustain and powerful crescendo in 278; a sharp damping of all percussion, especially tam-tam, with the cut-off.
Give Us This Day works best as the closing piece on a concert. Very little, if anything, can follow it successfully. It is especially anticlimactic to try to follow it with a march.