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Guest Composer David Holsinger, Sept. 11-17, 2006
David Holsinger
PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2006 11:13 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Posts: 24
Location: Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee

THIS IS AN EMERGENCY INTERRUPTION TO THE BCM DISCUSSION CHAIN #2:

OK, so my wife comes home this evening after an exhausting day trying to help the economy by depleting the inventory of a number of clothing stores in Knoxville and looks at today’s entries.

“THIS is your list of compositions that define you?”, she asks, voiceprint edging over and wavering on the “incredulous” zone.

“uh-huh.”

Because I am a sensitive man to the vocal nuances in my home, I supposed at this point, it would behoove me to ask my foremost supporter if she perhaps thought otherwise . . .

She did.

So here’s the wife’s idea of compositions that define me:

PRELUDE AND RONDO (1966)
LITURGICAL DANCES (1981)
IN THE SPRING AT THE TIME WHEN KINGS GO OFF TO WAR (1986)
ON A HYMNSONG OF PHILIP BLISS (1989)/A CHILDHOOD HYMN (1991)
TO TAME THE PERILOUS SKIES (1992)
THE EASTER SYMPHONY - COMPLETE (1995)
ABRAM’S PURSUIT (1998)
ADAGIO (1998)/IN PRAISE OF GENTLE PIONEERS (1996)
SCOOTIN’ ON HARDROCK (1999)
BATTLE MUSIC (1999)
PROVIDENCE UNFINISHED (2002)

OK, I can see this.

(Learn from this, gentlemen.)
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steve
PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 11:16 am  Reply with quote
Site Admin


Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Posts: 384
Location: Austin, TX

David,

First, thank you for spending this week with us - you've gone above and beyond what we could've hoped for, and we hope you will continue to drop in on occasion. Know that you're always most welcome here! And yes, your tab at Midwest is covered through your seventh generation. Smile

Now, to an actual question: You've been composing and conducting in the wind music field for a few years now, and have likely seen a number of changes in both the music itself, and the 'culture' and 'industry' that surrounds it. You've touched on some of these already - the self-publishing possibilities, the Sioux Falls, SD 'stepping-back-in-time' experience, etc. I'd like for you to expound a bit further on this - in particular, your opinion of trends / directions in the music being written (and programmed) for wind bands.

BTW, my family has an old inherited HO scale train layout with monorail, oil refinery, working street lights, haunted house, and a plethora of other interesting items, which needs a loving home and dedicated hands to reassemble...interested? Wink
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kim849
PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 2:48 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 16 Sep 2006
Posts: 7
Location: Interlochen, Michigan

Mr. Holsinger,


My name is Kim and I was the principle oboe player for the Niceville Highschool Band. We attended the Dixie Classic Band Festival in Chattanooga when you were the clinician there. I just want to thank you for your inspirational speech that day after our performance. You speak with great elegance and compassion and I truly appreciate it. You definitely lifted our spirits and made us feel 10 times better than when we walked off that stage. I just wanted to thank you for that. Smile


Sincerely,


Kim
_________________
I can't listen to that much Wagner. I start getting the urge to conquer Poland.
-Woody Allen (1935 - )
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David Holsinger
PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 4:24 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Posts: 24
Location: Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee

Hello Stephen,

Thanks for the “thanks”! It has been fun. Of course, it has been a bit easier with the small numbers of respondents . . I’ve had time to really get into some subjects . . perhaps too much. If there had been 50 or 60 questions, I would have been forced to more monosyllabic answers . . . and grunts . . and stuff like that. so, all’s well that ends well.

About the trains, we’ll talk later . . .


Looking to the future is always dangerous work. I’m not sure I’m a very good “future-looker” . . . After all, I’ve written pieces I was sure would be the next BIG ONE, only to have it dud out and some composition I wrote with simplistic sentimentality turns out to be my largest seller. I can’t even figure out my own music . . . what do I know about the future of wind band in general?

Each of the composers in the COMPOSING FOR BAND books were asked to address the issue of the future of wind bands. I did it. Eric did in volume II. I have no doubt that more of the BCMer’s will show up in future volumes and you, too, will be asked to “look to the future”.

I’m not going to excerpt my part of that chapter. I’m sure that I wrote the standard hyperbole on the “American Ensemble”, which I think it is, but I think this “future thing” boils down to composers and conductors. And how they relate.

I had a composition teacher who said, “Composer's ears are 20 years ahead of listener's ears.” He was probably right. After all, look at the progression of schools of composition in the 20th century.....we hardly had time to breathe between them, much less absorb them as they shot by . . . Objectivity, Primitivism, Nationalism, Futurism, Gebrauchsmusik, Satirical Music, Machine Music, Jazz, Neoclassicism, Atonality, Serialism and on and on . . . Wasn’t Rite of Spring Booed? . . and 10 years later, it’s “old hat” because now we’re dealing with Schoenberg’s early serial works . . and no sooner did Webern and Berg exhaust that run then we’re confronted with Messiaen’s modes of limited transposition . . . and then Aleatoric music . . . the avant-garde . . .the 70’s in general! . . microtonal music . .electronic music . .sound mass and sonic clouds . . .and I suppose most recent, minimalism, where one does as much as possible with as little as possible for as long as possible in order to irritate the audience as expediently as possible . . . and that’s already “old hat” . . .

How can we possibly keep up? I think we have to hope that all the conductors will grow up as fast as the composers do. It’s a mismatched generational thing. Composers look ahead, and conductors, by the nature of their education, look to the past.

I think it use to be a much wider divide than it is now.

Let me try and explain it (though I may not be as clear as I wish to be.) The modern band history is very short . . what do you think, 75 years at the most? I had as my high school band director in the 1960’s, a man who was trained by a conductor who was raised in the tradition of the “transcription” of the 30’s and 40’s. My college band director was raised in the traditions of the 40’s and 50’s . . .those who were conductors in the 70’s actually had their roots in the music of the 50’s and 60’s . . and on and on.

The problem arises in that the composer in 1980, for instance, was writing music OF 1980 and not music from the 60’s. He needed a conductor WITH A 1980 MUSICAL MENTALITY as a partner. Unfortunately that very seldom happened in those years. And a lot of really aggressively modern music written for band went begging, so to speak.

In fall of 1979, Robert E. Foster at the University of Kansas asked me to write a piece for the band that would be premiered at the national MENC convention that next spring. I wrote THE ARMIES OF THE OMNIPRESENT OTSERF. It contained diagrammatic notation, aleatoric sections, vocal permutations, box-music, and exotic percussion. The score was, to say the least, unconventional looking. When I first presented the work to Mr. Foster - to say that he was somewhat hesitant to except it is probably a huge understatement. I’m sure that Bob Foster would tell you, if you asked him today, that he had never seen a BAND score like it before. But I convinced him of its worth and the piece went on to become one of Bob Fosters conducting milestones. But for him to accept the piece, he had to resist our composer/conductor generational mismatch. He had the authority to veto this piece, but he choose to be a “then and now” conductor!

OTSERF went on to win the Ostwald and I feel that in part, it’s acceptance by the ABA also opened the door to other BAND composers who wrote with contemporary notational devices to be accepted by publishers.

I tell the story because, at the same time I was defending that score across Bob Foster’s desk, in the corner of his office was a two foot high pile of scores that had been sent to him that contained many of the same future-looking notational devices we were discussing. But those scores were not a part of Mr. Fosters “conducting environment” at that time. It wasn’t Bob Foster’s fault nor the composer’s fault . . it was simply a generational mismatching between two equally important aspects of music performance - the conductor and the composer.

I’ve been blessed with “then and now” conductors all my life. In 1965, my college band director, Ken Seward invited a virtually unknown composer named Nehlybel to our campus and my life was changed. In 1966, my new band director, Joe Labuta decided to program the new piece written by the little guy in the baritone section and my life changed. At Central Missouri State, my band director, Russell Coleman readily programmed my compositions, became a lifelong supporter of my music and my life changed. And Bob Foster, stepped out from a comfort zone, and introduced an Ostwald winning composition to the public, and my life changed.

I think this great divide is almost at an end. There is a new generation of conductors and teachers who are, if not forward looking, as least conscious of “what’s on the front burner” now.

“Information supply.” That’s a term I’ve been hearing for decades concerning how new music is defined. In this information age of IMMEDIACY, I think the generational gap between the conductor and the composer is being readily erased.

I would venture one note of caution. And THAT is probably best summed up in an excerpt from my COMPOSING FOR BAND chapter. It was a few lines concerning “lists” of important works for band:

****
I will say one thing about the importance of all these lists. The wind band area is the most volatile area for the creation of new music in the world today. This is wonderful news for composers and conductors alike. However, it does breed in us, a certain laissez-faire attitude toward the music of the past. We tend to forget our foundations. We tend to forget the masterworks that put us on this popular plateau in the first place. We tend to leave behind the landmark works of the past decades, in order to always be on the cutting edge of NEW.

Lists keep us honest unto ourselves. They insure that we will not forget the Persichetti's, the Hindemith's, the Schoenberg's, the Schmitt's, the Hartley's, the Holst's, the Grainger's of our recent heritage or the Ferdinand Paer's, the Franz Krommer's, and the Rimsky-Korsakov's of our distant past.

****

That’s right. We’re responsible for the future . . . AND the past! Wow. This is getting to be a really ticklish double-edged sword trick, isn’t it?
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David Holsinger
PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 4:33 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Posts: 24
Location: Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee

Kim,

Thanks for the note.

People like Kim remind us all - composers, conductors, and players - that we are part of a huge and wonderful family. We are musicians. We’re unashamed to wear “our hearts on our sleeves” and zealously pursue the passion of our lives through “thick and thin”.

Congratulations, Kim, on your acceptance at the Academy. Be Blessed.
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David Holsinger
PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 6:46 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Posts: 24
Location: Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee

I just wanted to take a moment before this discussion board comes to a conclusion to thank everyone involved. Especially these four young “composers of now and the future”!

I think all of us in the band field and in the NEW MUSIC world also are being well served by the young composers of today. I’m proud to call them friends and I’m glad Stephen was sitting in my alto sax section a long time ago and perhaps, got that same inner knowing that I did in 1966; that of everything else in the world - first and foremost, I wanted to be a good composer.

Thanks to all who wrote in. If you make it to the MidWest in December, be sure to stop by the TRN booth and say “hello”. If you can't find it, I'm only 8 feet from the BCM guys. Just turn around and look behind you.

Thanks, BCM, for the invitation.

Tomorrow’s Monday. Time to stop writing words and get back to the notes again.

Blessings,

DRH
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bcm
PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 7:39 pm  Reply with quote
Site Admin


Joined: 26 Jan 2003
Posts: 58

Our sincere thanks to Dr. Holsinger for his generosity with his time, spirit, and wise insights! And thanks to all who participated here. Our guest has simply overwhelmed the four of us with his musical knowledge and experiences, and has shown us with his terrific postings that this new section on these boards can be a big success, and our appreciation overfloweth!

Happy writing, David ... and we'll see you in Chicago!
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