James Roper and the DeMatha Wind Ensemble
Photo courtesy James Brunner.
Burgundy and Blue for Concert Band
Premiere: Autumn 2016
Instrumentation: picc, fl, ob, bsn, 3 cl, AATB sax, 2 hn, 3 tpt, 3 tbn, euph, tuba, perc
Written in April 2016 in Cologne, Germany; dedicated in celebration of the 70th anniversary of DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland; written for the DeMatha Wind Ensemble, James Roper, director.
I am a proud graduate of DeMatha, and was a member of the Wind Ensemble, for which this piece was written. James Roper and John Mitchell - who built the music department at DeMatha into a nationally competitive, multi-faceted entity - were two of my earliest, and most influential music teachers. During my four years at DeMatha, I played in multiple concert ensembles, cut my jazz teeth, and had my first experiences conducting, studying music theory, and orchestrating for large ensemble. I also got the chance to dive into 20th century music. All of these experiences, of course, led me toward composition.
In addition to being a dedication to major influences in my life, this piece is an homage to the band works that shaped my ears, both at DeMatha, and later in the bands at the Univeristy of Cincinnati. Works by Ives, Persichetti, Grainger, Gould, Mennin, Barber, Chance, and William Schumann, among others, have all come through in this piece, via its structure, tonality and devices. The main theme is a play on the school's name: D - E min - A - T(i) - H (B natural) - A. The title refers to the two colors of the blazers wore by DeMatha students - navy blue for underclassmen, burgundy for upperclassmen.