David Maslanka: Concerto for Saxophone & Wind Ensemble




University of Arizona Wind Ensemble

Gregg Hanson, conductor

Joseph Lulloff, Alto Saxophone

Drew Lang, Marimba

Concerto for Alto Saxophone & Wind Ensemble

This concerto turned out to be a good deal larger than I would reasonably want. As I got into the composing, the ideas became insistent: none of them would be left out! The format of Songs and Interludes arises from my other recent works for saxophones (“Mountain Roads” and “Song Book”) and suggests a music that is more intimate than symphonic. There is a strong spiritual overtone with quotes from Bach chorales, and from my own works “Hell's Gate” and “Mass.” A story is being hinted at which has the Crucifixion right smack in the middle — the climax of the third movement quotes the “Crucifixus” from the “Mass.” I don't know what the story is, only that it wants to be music and not words.

I. Song: “Fire in the Earth”

Walking through a Montana field on a brilliant late Fall day, three images came in rapid succession: a distant row of red plant stems caught by the morning sun, snow on the surrounding high mountains, green grass at my feet. The following poetic image came:

Fire in the earth

Snow in the Heavens

New green grass in the middle of November

This is a quiet, emotional music — sometimes not so quiet — contained by a very simple song form.

II. Interlude: “Bright Window, Your Night is Full of Stars”

“Bright Window” is the soprano song right before the Credo in my “Mass.” I have transcribed it whole as a beautiful song for the solo saxophone. The words of the original song reach out in prayer to the Holy Mother and ask for a personal connection with all there is. This movement is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Christensen, Director of Bands at Iowa State University, whose untimely death was a shock to his many friends.

III. Song: “Dear Jesus, what have you DONE?!”

This music grows out of the chorale “Herzliebste Jesu, was hast du verbrocken” (“Dearest Jesus, what law did you break”). The chorale is the starting point for a huge upsurge of powerful emotion, cresting with the climax of the “Crucifixus” from my setting of the Mass.

Dear Jesus, what have you DONE to get yourself crucified?...

And then you drag the rest of us up there with you!!

IV. Interlude: “Starry Night”

“Starry Night” is not a quiet night! There is both mystery and playfulness in this music, and playfulness finally wins out, erupting into an extended dance episode with a very Baroque feel. Of all the movements, this one is most nearly a scherzo.

V. Song: “Mortal, have you seen this?”

In the Book of Ezekiel, The prophet has a vision of a man “whose appearance shone like bronze.” The “Bronze Man” shows him the Holy City. He then leads him into a deep and very wide river that cannot be crossed, and says “Mortal, have you seen this?” Where the river enters the sea the water becomes fresh; everything will live where the river goes; trees along the river will not wither, their fruit will be for food, their leaves for healing.

This movement is an echo of the third. It opens and closes with what has been called the “coronation” music from my composition “Hell's Gate” — in this case played very softly and inwardly.

Concerto for Marimba and Band

This concerto could easily be subtitled `rhapsody' or `fantasy' because of its meditative and free-flowing quality. It is easy to describe the overall shape — an extended slow to moderate opening section, an explosive fast section, a quiet closing section — but less easy to describe the internal working of the piece. I have been an observer of nature for many years. I am fascinated with the “is-ness” of nature. The earth, the sky, the variety of growing things, water — all are constants. They stay the same, but are continuously varied with the time of day, the weather, the changing seasons. I have tried in my concerto to reflect the inner working of na-tural systems, not to make nature sounds as in a tone poem, but to find a musical structure that parallels the natural flow.

The result in this piece harks back more than 20 years to a title I had thought of but never used. The title is ”Melodia” — a collection of melodies. My concerto is a continuous exposition of a large number of melodies, all growing out of a single impulse. There is no development in the Classical sense, but rather a flowing movement, a meditation which travels quietly, and sometimes forcefully from thought to thought, often extremely simple, with pleasure taken in individual colors, shapes, and combinations as they appear and dissolve. Meditations on nature become for me, ecstatic visions of color, light and force. All the musical elements — rhythm, melody, harmony, instrumental colors and textures — are all alive for me in the same way.

I am not a percussionist, but it has come to me to write percussion music. This is my fifth piece for marimba and my second marimba concerto. The marimba is a superior mood instrument. Over the years it has allowed me to find and give shape to parts of myself that could not be expressed in other terms.

—David Maslanka

David Maslanka

David Maslanka was born in New Bedford, MA in 1943. He attended the Oberlin Conservatory, and studied for a year at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. He did master's and doctoral work in composition at Michigan State University with H. Owen Reed. David Maslanka's compositions have been performed throughout the United States and around the world. His works for winds and percussion have become especially well known. They include among others “A Child's Garden of Dreams”; “Concerto for Piano, Winds and Percussion”; the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Symphonies; “In Memoriam”; “Tears”; “Mass; and “Sea Dreams — Concerto for Two Horns and Wind Orchestra.” Percussion works include “Variations on Lost Love” for solo marimba, “Arcadia II: Concerto for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble,” “Crown of Thorns” for keyboard percussion, “Montana Music: Three Dances for Percussion,” and “In Lonely Fields” for percussion and orchestra. In addition he has written a wide variety of chamber, orchestral and choral pieces. Maslanka's works are published primarily by Carl Fischer, Inc. of New York City, and have been recorded on CRI, Novisse, Klavier, Cambria, Albany, and Mark labels. Between 1970 and 1990 he served on the faculties of SUNY Geneseo, Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and CUNY Kingsborough. He is now a free-lance composer and lives in Missoula Montana. David Maslanka is a member of ASCAP.

Gregg I. Hanson

Gregg I. Hanson was born in Ogden, Utah in 1943. He studied trumpet, piano and voice in his younger years before attending The University of Michigan where he received bachelors and masters degrees in 1967-68. He has studied conducting with Elizabeth A. H. Green and William D. Revelli and now heads an innovative graduate conducting program at The University of Arizona School of Music and Dance where he currently serves as Director of Wind Bands and Professor of Conducting. Hanson's career has taken him into numerous venues of music including commercial music, opera, wind ensemble, chamber music, musical theater and orchestra. He has conducted across the United States and in Europe, Mexico, Canada, and China.

Joseph Lulloff

Lulloff received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in saxophone performance from Michigan State University where he studied with James Forger. He is now Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies at Michigan State University. “A fine, accomplished, and intent player” were the praises bestowed upon Joseph Lulloff by the Boston Globe. That artistry and intensity have taken him around the world to perform and teach in many venues. Lulloff began performing throughout the United Stated as a result of his success in competitions such as the Ima Hogg International Music Competition, the East/West Artists Competition, the Concert Artists Guild International Competition, and the Pro Musicis International Music Competition. He became known to international audiences through his performances at World Saxophone Congresses in Tokyo (Japan), Nuremberg (Germany), and Valencia (Spain). Lulloff has also performed with jazz pianist Phil Strange in Japan and with the Prism Saxophone Quartet in South America. He appears frequently as saxophonist with the St. Louis Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Grand Rapids Symphony, and the Brevard Music Center Symphony Orchestra and is a clinician for the Selmer Company.

Drew Lang

Drew Lang is a percussionist dedicated to furthering the marimba as a solo and chamber music instrument. He has commissioned and premiered works for the marimba in solo, chamber and concerto settings. Drew appears throughout the United States as a soloist and with his wife, Helen Blackburn, in their marimba/flute duo. Mr. Lang also performs with Chris Hanning in the percussion duo DOUBLE IMPACT. His performances have been broadcast on NPR and featured on the McGraw-Hill Young Artists Showcase on WQXR radio in New York.

Mr. Lang performs regularly with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Opera, the Dallas Wind Symphony, Ft. Worth Symphony, and Casa Manana Musicals. He has also performed and recorded with the Turtle Creek Chorale. The International Festival-Institute at Round Top, and the Dallas Brass. Also, he has been a percussionist and timpanist with the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. Mr. Lang is on the percussion faculty at Southern Methodist University and Has served on the faculties of Stephen F. Austin State University, The University of Mississippi, the University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler Junior College, and Trinity Valley Community College. Mr. Lang received his B.M. from McMurry College and his M.M. from the University of Arizona where he studied with Gary Cook.

The University of Arizona Wind Ensemble

Flute/ Piccolo

Joanne Hogle+

Nicole Parada+

Kim Turney

Courtenay Loiselle

Alfonso Dominguez

Oboe/ English Horn

Jessica Blight+

James Ross+


Maria Jelezcheva+

Kylene Rees

Shannon Casey+


Shawna Price+

Dominic Livigni+

Noel Robblee+

Lauren Johnston

Amy Rice

Candice Grieco

Beth Goodhue

Bass Clarinet

Jeff Boeckman+

Contra Bass Clarinet

Lauren Hall-Lew+


Mike Keepe+

Don Morris+

Mark McArthur+

Charles Bowers+


Faithe Roberts+

Kevin Miller

William Halsey+

Brian Watson

Justin Bean


Brandon Sinnock+

Tawnee Lillo+

Matt Vlahovich+

Ryan Blanton+

Kevin Schroeder+

Rebecca Broky


Jessica Lillo+

Casey Rabe+

Fred Maese

James Matsushino+


Mike May+


Johanna Schmidtke+

David Holben


Topu Lyo

Roman Wowk

Erin Bennion

String Bass

Aaron Hubbard+


John Aylward+


Tatiana Shapiro


Richard Meunckler+

Christine Rosko+

Jim Hill+

Matt Jacklin+

Lance Saxerud+

Daniel Smithinger+

+ Indicates personnel performing in the Concerto for Saxophone and Wind Ensemble.

Recorded on May 2, 3 & 4 , 2000 in Crowder Hall at the University of Arizona School of Music and Dance, Tucson, Arizona

Cover Art: “Self-Portrait” by David Maslanka; Cover Design:Matt Maslanka

Co-Producers: Gregg Hanson and David Maslanka

Head Recording Engineer: Wiley Ross, Recording Studio Coordinator at The University of Arizona School of Music and Dance

Assisting Recording Engineers: Mike Birch, Reiko Katsuno, Dana Morris

Mixing, Editing, and Mastering: Wiley Ross and Gregg Hanson

Special Thanks to:

Rob Cutietta, Director of The University of Arizona School of Music and Dance

Shannon Casey, Graduate Teaching Assistant, The University of Arizona Band Department

Eve Dotson, Administrative Assistant, The University of Arizona Band Department

David Maslanka

Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble

1 I. Song: “Fire in the Earth” [9:20]

2 II. Interlude: “Bright Window, Your Night is Full of Stars” [5:06]

3 III. Song: “Dear Jesus, what have you DONE!?” [9:05]

4 IV. Interlude: “Starry Night” [10:24]

5 V. Song: “Mortal, have you seen this?” [9:19]

Joseph Lulloff, saxophone

6 Concerto for Marimba and Band [19:34]

Drew Lang, marimba

The University of Arizona Wind Ensemble

Gregg I. Hanson, conductor

Total Time = 62:57