WISE – Charles Ives

There have been quite a few connections to the composer Charles Ives lately: we are playing a piece by him in band (shown above), and he was mentioned by Sally as one of her favorite composers in an interview I conducted with her. So it was only natural that I would start off my research with Ives.

Often there’s much to be learned from taking a glimpse at the life of a composer, but that’s not why I like to read about composers. Perhaps it’s coincidence or perhaps it’s not, but it seems to me that lives of composers are bound to be interesting in some way or another. Beethoven’s deafness, Stravinsky’s riot during The Rite of Spring, and Shostakovich’s relationship with Stalin are just a few famous examples. Ives, however, seems to have had one of the most interesting lives of them all.

Ives is known for being one of the first American composers to employ contemporary techniques such as polytonality, clusters, and aleatoric sections in his music. What’s intriguing is the fact that he was encouraged to explore these then-uncommon styles from a very early age by his father, George Ives.

But even after being raised by a musician, he did not go into a musical profession: he became an insurance salesman. Of course he continued to compose, but it was not his day job. All of these factors caused Ives to appear as an amateur composer to many critics of his time.

It was not until years after his death that his music became well known and more appreciated. Fitting to the mold of the true innovator, his work was largely ignored during his life. Now we know that he was simply ahead of his time.

Sources:

  • Burton, Anthony. “Charles Ives.” BBC Music (London, England). June 2004: 48-52. SIRS Renaissance. Web. 09 Feb 2013.
  • “Charles Ives.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Sept. 2013. Web. 09 Feb. 2013.

Band Potluck

Tie die, capture the flag, chain tag, and a very delicious potluck dinner. These things aren’t something you’d think a normal high school band would do together, but I guess our band’s just special that way.

For the first time, the officers and a planning committe of two put together a potluck, aimed at getting the freshmen more comfortable with the returning members before school started. Thanks to the brilliant planning by the two girls on the committe, the event ran smoothly and was packed with fun. I was very happy to hear positive reactions from our band director, students, and parents alike.

I, for one, have my own tie-die shirt hanging in my bathroom right now, waiting to dry so that I can proudly wear it on my first day of school.

Well, perhaps tie-die isn’t such a great choice of wear for the very first day, but I’m sure I’ll wear it sometime during the first week. Month. I’ll wear it eventually, I suppose.

P.S. We also got a new tune for Pep Band this year: Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5.

Website

I’ve spent many hours during the past few days building a website for our school’s concert band. My friend and I have done everything from buying a domain and hosting the files to installing wordpress and tinkering with the theme. Now all that awaits the website is actual content. Hopefully as we near the start of the school year we’ll have more information to put up on the website.

Oh, and I should probably mention it: I’m the co-president of our school band for my Senior year. And at this point I guess I could call myself the webmaster as well.

Another Year Passes By

Last night, our high school’s concert band gave another great concert. We played pieces including Eric Whitacre’s Ghost Train and Sleep, and Divertimento for Winds and Percussion by Roger Cichy. The flute octet performed a lovely arrangement of Debussy’s Clair de Lune, and the woodwind quintet performed Roaring Fork by Eric Ewazen.

The year was a busy one, with two other concerts that we had already given, numerous football games that we played for, and a parade that we have yet to attend. But the last concert of the year is always a special one. It’s the time when we thank our band director for all that she’s done for us. It’s the time when we recognize our Seniors who have been with us for four years and send them off with a heartfelt goodbye. It’s the time when we pat each other on the back and laugh about the mistakes we’ve made.

“Life gives us brief moments with another, but sometimes in those brief moments we get memories that last a lifetime.” This was the quote that our band director chose to share with our Seniors this year. It could not possibly be more true. These brief moments that we share in band every day add up to something greater, something larger than all of us. And when we look back upon these high school years, I think many of us will find that we’re smiling because of a memory from band. I know I sure will.

Whether it be the beauty of the music we play, the skills of the musicians we have, or the dedication of the director that leads us all, our band is comprised of some very special things that make our not-so-little group what it is today. Wherever life may lead us next, be it on separate roads or even opposite paths, we know that the bond created here last night will last within each of us. And that, surely, is the magic of music.

Black Granite

I stumbled upon this piece purely by accident when I should have been doing my homework, and I realized it was the piece I had played (and loved) in band my Freshmen year. Realizing I hadn’t posted it on my blog, I decided to immediately remedy that.

Divertimento for Winds and Percussion

This is the fourth movement from a piece that we are playing in band, by Roger Cichy. This movement is surely my favorite. The composer actually wrote this as a tribute to three great American composers: Bernstein, Copland, and Gershwin. A tribute to one great composer is a big task, but three? I won’t be the judge of whether if the piece does them justice, but I’ll surely be the first to say that this is a great movement.