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#1 Shenandoah

Title of Piece: Shenandoah

Composer: Arranged by Frank Ticheli
Year of Publication: 1999
Publisher: Manhattan Beach Music
Grade Level: III

This piece was written in 1999 as a commission from the Hill Country Middle School
Symphonic Band. A young horn player by the name of Jonathan Paul Cosentino tragically lost
his life in December of 1997, prompting the conductor of ensemble to reach out to Ticheli with
the commission. It is based on the folk song that goes by the same name and originates from
sometime in 19th century; the history is obscure but is definitely inspired by a location in
Virginia called the Shenandoah Valley and the river that flows through it. The instrumentation
of this piece is the standard wind ensemble scoring with no piccolo and the increasingly common
string bass, but with the exception of an E-flat Contra Alto Clarinet.
Shenandoah offers an incredible opportunity for students to explore phrasing and
interpretation. This piece is quite linear with a clear climax, giving teachers another opportunity
to teach about pacing and arrival. The scoring of the piece is often quite exposed and delicate.
Students must really take responsibility in their tone quality, dynamics, and lyricism for this
seemingly easy piece to ever sound good. Not only are there all of these teaching opportunities,
but it is also a gorgeous piece with good pacing that any community would love to hear as part of
a program.

#2 Ride

Title of Piece: Ride

Composer: Samuel R. Hazo
Year of Publication: 2002
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Grade Level: V

An exhilarating and fun work, Ride was written in the years of 2001-2 by Samuel Hazo,
the winner of both of the National Band Association’s composition contests (the only man in
history to do so!). Ride was one of his earlier works written during the composers rise to fame in
the composition community. He wrote it as a “thank-you” to his friend and mentor Jack Stamp,
who used Hazo’s works often in workshops and talks giving him much needed publicity. It is a
programmatic piece that illustrates a particular moment in Hazo’s life when he was riding in a
vehicle through the countryside towards Stamp’s residence. The instrumentation is common for
wind ensemble with the only possible issues arising in the percussion parts. There are potentially
seven percussion parts that call for oddities such as china symbol, the piccolo snare drum, and
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Ride, due to its variety of meter changes and difficult rhythms, can be a serious beast for
most high school groups to overcome. With advanced groups, this piece is an exhilarating
experience that still pushes the musicianship of even talented students. This could easily be a
project piece for students to put a lot of good time and effort into. With the right amount of
rehearsal time and student motivation, Ride is definitely a plausible piece to push the technical
skills of students while also giving the opportunity of amazing achievement.
#3 Cloudburst

Title of Piece: Cloudburst

Composer: Eric Whitacre
Year of Publication: 1995/2001 (2001 for instrumental version)
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Grade Level: IV

World renowned and popular for his viral Virtual Choir videos, Eric Whitacre was
commissioned Dr. Jocelyn Jensen for her high school choir group in 1995. Originally a choir
piece, he later arranged it for wind ensemble in 2001 (a practice Whitacre would frequently do).
The group it was originally written for was known for their extravagant performances, and
Whitacre wanted to capture that decadence. He was influenced by poems by Octavio Paz, and
recently had witnessed a “breathtaking” cloudburst; thus, the creation of this piece. The
instrumentation is quite manageable with the only peculiar instruments being bass trombone,
piano, hand bells, and sheet metal/tin metal sheets.
Cloudburst has become one of Whitacre’s most famous wind ensemble works. It has
amazing lyrical lines and extended harmonies that will challenge and grow students’
musicianship. The fact that the piece also includes having students model rain by snapping their
fingers, thunder with tin sheet metal, and even sing will really expand students’ ideas of what
music (especially in the wind ensemble) can be. These programmatic elements also give
students a chance to open their ears and compare the sounds they are creating with the real thing.
That form of listening can easily be transferred to other elements of the music creation process. I
have not even mentioned how beautiful this piece is yet, either! Overall, this composition
provides an incredible amount of education material for students to make great music and expand
their musicianship.
#4 The Washington Post

Title of Piece: The Washington Post

Composer: John Philip Sousa
Year of Publication: 1889/1982
Publisher: Carl Fischer Music
Grade Level: III / IV

One of Sousa’s most famous marches, The Washington Post was written for Military
Band in 1889 to help promote a contest put on by the newspaper with the same name. The
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owners of the paper contacted Sousa, at that time leader of the Marine band, to compose a piece
to play during the awarding ceremony of Amateur Authors’ Association essay contest for school
children. It was premiered that same year on the grounds of the Smithsonian Museum where the
ceremony took place. This piece, along with The Stars and Stripes Forever, are Sousa’s most
known works. It was later arranged into a more modern wind ensemble instrumentation by
multiple composers. The instrumentation varies for each arrangement, but a conductor should
watch out for the E-flat Clarinet, both E-flat and B-flat Contra Clarinets, the Bass Saxophone,
Cornets, and the field drum in this arrangement by Frederick Fennell. Those parts are all
potentially omitted.
The historical value of this piece alone could justify introducing it to an ensemble, but
this piece has much more going for it than that. The Washington Post has a vast array of
dynamic responsibilities, contrasting instrumentations, rhythmic variation, and opportunities to
teach the military band style of performance. It is a staple of American music, and is simply fun
to listen to as well. As most marches are, it is generally simple for students to learn, but quite
difficult to master.

#5 Folk Song Suite

Title of Piece: Folk Song Suite

Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams
Year of Publication: 1924 / 2008 (revised edition)
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Grade Level: V

Folk Song Suite by Ralph Vaughan Williams is considered part of the cornerstone
repertoire for the wind ensemble literature. It was first premiered in 1923 as a commission for
the Royal Military School of Music ensemble. The Suite, a collection of three movements, is
composed with settings of many English folk tunes from the Norfolk and Somerset regions. The
movements are: I, March, Seventeen Come Sunday; II, Intermezzo, My Bonny Boy; III, March,
Folk Songs from Somerset. The instrumentation calls for an E-flat Clarinet, Solo B-flat clarinet,
either B-flat Contrabass clarinet or bass saxophone, and cornet. Otherwise, the rest of the
instrumentation is standard wind ensemble scoring.
This is a corner stone piece of repertoire for the wind ensemble, and for good reason. The
piece is no light undertaking, but can be made very manageable by performing only one or two
movements at a time. The phrases are simple, giving a clear opportunity to help students learn
direction and phrasing. There are opportunities for lyricism, as well as control of a more
marcato/staccato style. There is great comprehensive musicianship lessons found in the folk
songs, the history this piece has made in the wind band repertoire, and discussions on the
importance of the Suite.
#6 Toccata for Band

Title of Piece: Toccata for Band

Composer: Frank Erickson
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Year of Publication: 1957
Publisher: Bourne Co.
Grade Level: III

A popular piece among high school and college bands alike, Frank Erickson’s Toccata
for Band is a simple yet elegant work composed for accessibility. Erickson only used generic
wind ensemble instruments in his arrangement, and composed music that is not too hard yet still
sounds great. There are two clear sections within this piece; a driving rhythmic section, and a
more lyrical section that features solo horn. This was one of the many pieces Erickson
composed in the 1950’s that became widely popular in the wind ensemble community, and
garnered Erickson his notability still held today.
The two distinct and juxtaposed sections of this piece offer students the opportunity to
learn differentiation and to cement application knowledge of styles. It is a more simple piece
that can allow for rehearsals to be focused more on direction, style, dynamics, interpretation, and
more rather than on technique. Any time there is a student who can be challenged to take a step
further and play a solo, that option should be taken. An exposed horn solo is a great way to
expand a student’s performance capabilities and confidence. Either way, good form, great
sound, and wonderful education opportunities all exist in this compact work.

#7 Bunker Hill Overture

Title of Piece: Bunker Hill Overture

Composer: James Swearingen
Year of Publication: 1994
Publisher: C L Barnhouse Company
Grade Level: II

This piece was composed in 1994 by Swearingen to evoke the first battle of the
Revolutionary War. Swearingen was extensively active in the education field, and was very
interested in creating good music that was developmentally appropriate for young musicians. He
wrote this piece with that in mind, and created a piece of repertoire that was worthy of praise
both in sound and in educational content. The instrumentation is quite simple with only two
instruments having more than one part. There is no call for instruments that any beginning
ensemble could not be expected to possess.
On the very easy side, this piece would be a great starting point for a group that is behind
or just starting out. The ranges on all of the parts are very reasonable and comfortable, making
this a piece that inexperienced groups can grow into. The melodies are still well written, with
good arrangement throughout. There is room for exposed clarinet playing in the more lyrical trio
middle section. The historical element of the piece could also provide good opportunities for
comprehensive musicianship growth.
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#8 American Emblem

Title of Piece: American Emblem

Composer: Bill Calhoun
Year of Publication: 2015
Publisher: Carl Fischer
Grade Level: III

Bill Calhoun was a public educator for over 30 years before he retired from public
teaching in 2010. Once retired, he took to doing composition and clinician work for bands
across the United States. He has composed many pieces of great repute for ensembles of all
ability levels, but focuses his lower grade level pieces on educative material. American Emblem,
recently published in 2015, is a patriotic tribute to our homeland. Composed in four main areas,
this piece is filled to the brim with American tunes, composition techniques of the great
American composers, and heart-felt appreciation for the U.S. of A. The instrumentation is
common for any general wind ensemble, but a conductor might need to seek out a mark tree and
slapstick for the percussion parts.
This could be a great addition to the bands patriotic repertoire, keeping the students and
the community interested in new materials. The form of the piece is expertly crafted, with
material exposed throughout the beginning that reappears later in different orchestration. The
counterpoint, variation on a theme, and other compositional aspects make this a theoretically
deep work just waiting to be revealed to the students. The fun and whimsical American tunes
pieced together into a lovely work of art like this is always a blast to learn and experience. It is
technically feasible for any group to master quickly, and the musicality present throughout the
whole piece makes for a great addition to the repertoire library.
#9 Awakening Hills

Title of Piece: Awakening Hills

Composer: Richard Saucedo
Year of Publication: 2003
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Grade Level: III

A glorious arrangement featuring contrast in exuberant fanfare and hymn-like lyricism,

Awakening Hills is a piece of fantastic reputation. This piece was commissioned for the All
Iowa Middle School Honor Band. Richard Saucedo worked for many years in the public
education profession leading one of the most successful band programs in all of Indiana at
Carmel High School in Caramel, Indiana. Now an emeritus professor, he arranges free-lance and
is one of the most sought-after clinicians in Indiana. As most composers who were once
educators do, he arranged this piece to be widely accessible in terms of instrumentation.
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This piece pushes the expectations of how hard a piece can sound, and actually play
rather easily. The composer loves overlapping motivic elements and melodies in layers that give
his pieces rich and complex sound, yet do not over tax a young or intermediate ensemble. The
juxtaposition of fanfare style at the beginning, lyricism in the middle, and fanfare at the end
again gives students more opportunities to apply their knowledge of style change. There are
extensive percussion responsibilities in this piece that could help show case or challenge a
section often neglected in repertoire at the education level.
#10 Dusk

Title of Piece: Dusk

Composer: Steven Bryant
Year of Publication: 2008 (most recent revision)
Publisher: Gorilla Salad Productions (distributed by Hal Leonard)
Grade Level: IV

Commissioned for the Langley High School Wind Symphony, the piece named Dusk
embodies the richness of that moment when the world becomes still. Steven Bryant, a composer
with degrees from several schools, has written works for a vast array of genres including wind
ensemble, orchestra, electronic, chamber ensembles, and music for the web. He wrote this piece
in the effort to capture the paradoxical nature of the moment when the sky goes to sleep;
becoming calm and tranquil yet full of fiery hues and rich color. The only instrument not part of
the conventional scoring in this piece is the Alto Clarinet, but a conductor should also pay
attention to the amount of parts called for as well (there are many).
Dusk will push the limits of even the best of ensembles. The technique of the piece is
really quite simple, but the style, lyricism, exposed instrumentation, and interpretation will take
time for any group to master. This piece will push a student’s understanding of music, as the
rests and silence in this piece are just as important as the notes. The piece is a great experience
to perform, as well as listen to. A beautiful work that is much more difficult than it seems is
always a great opportunity to include deep expression into the ensemble.

#11 A Movement for Rosa

Title of Piece: A Movement for Rosa

Composer: Mark Camphouse
Year of Publication: 1992
Publisher: TRN Music Publisher, Inc
Grade Level: V

The Florida Bandmasters Association commissioned this quasi-tone poem to honor the
civil rights legend Rosa Parks. Written in 1992, it features three programmatic sections that
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follow the story of Rosa Parks’ life: Rosa’s early life, the years of racial strife in Montgomery,
and the final movement, in a hymn-like exaltation, provides tranquil support and serenity for the
accomplishments in creating equality. However, the piece ends in ominous tones reminding the
world that racism has not left this planet yet. The instrumentation is not too extensive, but is
probably unavailable for most common public schools in terms of the number of parts. While
the winds do not contain any unusual instruments, the percussion parts call for oddities such as
an anvil, bongos, crotales, gong, and piano.
While being an incredibly difficult piece, intermediate and advanced groups would be
able to handle this work with sufficient rehearsal and preparation time. This piece offers
programmatic elements that will challenge students to buy into the effort of expressing the story
that the piece is telling. The multiple sections of the piece each offer their own challenges, such
as exposed scoring in the beginning, complicated rhythms and meter changes in the middle
section, and creating a full, balanced wind ensemble sound in the final section. The reason the
piece was published can also lend an incredibly important collaborative lesson with history.
#12 Hymn to a Blue Hour

Title of Piece: Hymn to a Blue Hour

Composer: John Mackey
Year of Publication: 2010
Publisher: Osti Music
Grade Level: V

John Mackey wrote Hymn to a Blue Hour as an effort to capture the mood and
spirituality of the moment just after sun-down when the world is enveloped in a deep blue haze
before darkness sets in. Mackey wrote this piece in a manner not familiar to him while staying
in an apartment in New York; sitting at a piano. He usually uses all electronic notation to
compose and admits to being quite bad at piano. Never-the-less, this piece is quite stunning, yet
definitely more simple than can be expected from Mackey’s normal compositional practices.
This piece has very thick scoring which calls for uncommon instruments such as the
contrabassoon, the B-flat contrabass Clarinet, optional Soprano Sax, and many parts for the
common instruments.
Hymn to a Blue Hour is full of the extended harmonies common in Mackey’s
composition style. This will seriously challenge the ensemble to listen and push the limits of
intonation. The lyricism and fullness of this piece will generally create a great sound as long as
the group can stay in tune with one another, making this a wonderful piece for public
appearance. The pacing of the piece is great, with clear build, climax, and release. The students
can learn phrasing, tone quality, listening skills, and so much more while also pushing their
experiences with different and more complex tonalities.
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#13 Gloriosa

Title of Piece: Gloriosa

Composer: Yasuhide Ito
Year of Publication: 1990
Publisher: Ito Music
Grade Level: VI

Gloriosa is an incredibly challenging piece written to capture the cultural mix of

Christianity and Japanese folk tradition, as well as the suffering felt by the Crypto-Christians in
the 16th century after the religion was banned by the Tokugawa Shogunate Government. This
piece features three powerful movements, all containing distorted Christian melodies as a basis
of material. The Christian melodies were purposefully changed by the practicing Crypto-
Christians so that they sounded more “Japanese-like,” effectively hiding their faith from
persecution and still allowing them to worship. Ito uses many programmatic instruments in his
piece, including the option Ryuteki flute (of which I am sure no high school ensemble will own,
let alone have a student that could play it), sleigh bells, rachet, parts with singing, and the
uncommon E-flat clarinet as a more generic wind band instrument.
Most likely, any high school group would play a single movement from this work. The
difficulty is incredibly high, and any group that is not advanced should avoid this work. The first
movement is not available in print anymore either. The second and third movements offer a vast
array of different musical aspects and are definitely passable as their own pieces. The cultural
and historical implications and influences in this piece are great CM lesson opportunities. The
singing, complex percussion, and overall high level of musicianship required to make this piece
work would be a great learning experience for a high-level group looking for a challenge.

#14 Tempered Steel

Title of Piece: Tempered Steel

Composer: Charles Rochester Young
Year of Publication: 1997
Publisher: Southern Music Company
Grade Level: V

This song was written to represent the strength and resilience gained from becoming
tempered through hardships. The Big 12 Band Directors Association commissioned this piece in
1997, and it was premiered by the Baylor University Wind Ensemble that year. Charles Young
used intervallic and motivic development to compose most of this piece as well as exploring the
many metallic colors and sonorities of the wind band. This is an incredibly percussion heavy
piece, with five parts for percussion that include oddities such brake drums, crotales, slap-stick,
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and maracas. The wind instruments that might not be available are the E-flat clarinet, and the E-
flat and B-flat contrabass clarinets.
This piece sounds much more difficult than it is, as each part contributes to a layer of
complexity. Individual technical work will be a necessity with this piece, however. It would be
a great piece to get students fingers and tongue really moving in their own practice time and in
performance of the piece. The focus on the percussion section could give percussionists the
ability to really feel invested in the ensemble I a new way. This piece will sound heavy and
weighted (as the piece is forging a stronger experience), but students will need to learn to be light
and quick with complicated staccato passages and motives that appear throughout the piece. The
life lessons taught by this composition are also incredibly important.

#15 October

Title of Piece: October

Composer: Eric Whitacre
Year of Publication: 2000
Publisher: Carpe Ranam
Grade Level: IV

October was commissioned by the Nebraska Wind Consortium and premiered in May of
2000. Whitacre wrote this piece in honor of his favorite month. He tried to capture the crisp
autumn air and the sentimental connection with the aura surrounding that time of year. He
dedicated the composition to Brian Anderson. The only instrument of note outside the
conventional line-up is the E-flat Clarinet.
This piece is basically considered a new standard in the wind ensemble literature, and for
good reason. The rich and lush scoring throughout the piece lends to the authentic and full
symphonic band sound. The lyricism and extended harmonies of this piece challenge even
trained ears. There are great soloist opportunities throughout this piece, especially in the
beginning with the oboe being such a prominent voice. Keeping the energy moving through this
piece from start to finish is also a great challenge. Students are guaranteed to enjoy the sounds
this piece has to offer.
#16 William Tell Overture

Title of Piece: William Tell Overture

Composer: Gioacchino Rossini
Year of Publication: 1829 / 2014
Publisher: Ludwig Master Publications
Grade Level: IV
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The original music composed by Gioacchino Rossini was an orchestral overture to the
opera by the name Guillaume Tell. The work has been used and rearranged throughout the years
as for many kinds of ensembles as both serious works and as parodies. Though, the most famous
adaption is the thematic music for the radio, television, and movie icon The Lone Ranger (in the
U.S. that is). The overture originally contained four sections; future adaptions would either take
the Lone Ranger approach and only use the fourth and final section, or would truncate the
original overture and use all four sections. The first is a slow prelude, the second a dynamic tutti
emulating a storm, the third a pastorale signifying the calm after a storm, and finally a march
with the name March of the Swiss Soldiers. The instrumentation of most arrangements is
conventional wind ensemble scoring, but it is also common to see E-flat clarinet, alto clarinet,
and cornets in many of the different compositions.
The different sections of this piece each have their own justifications. The students’
familiarity with the tune could definitely help invest them in the music creation process. The
opportunities for historical references, how things change over time, and talks on opera that this
piece brings to the table are not easily dismissed. The piece has wonderful solo possibilities for a
gifted clarinetist and horn player. There are programmatic elements to each section that can help
guide students in learning interpretation and style. There is also great technical facility to be had
in performing this piece crisp and clean (especially during the finale march section).

#17 Riverdance

Title of Piece: Riverdance

Composer: Bill Whelan (arr. By Strommen)
Year of Publication: 1994
Publisher: Shawnee Press
Grade Level: V

Riverdance, composed by Bill Whelan and arranged by Strommen, is a wind ensemble

adaption of the Irish dance and musical spectacular by the same name. It is a five-movement
piece that features four famous Irish melodies and a percussion feature. The original tunes
became famous from the spectacular and the groups that toured it all across Europe and the U.S..
The only wind instruments that may not be available for a common group featured in this piece
are the alto clarinet and the soprano sax. The soprano sax is absolutely necessary for some of the
movements, so arranging or providing that horn must be dealt with. Percussion instruments that
a conventional band might not have include the claves, finger cymbals, and the side stick.
The diverse and varied opportunities within the five movements of this piece are really
endless. If the program is heavy already, the conductor can pick and choose movements that fit
the needs of the group and program for performance. Whether the band needs a lyrical piece, or
a folk tune fill piece, or a “kicking” finale, this piece can provide. There are many solo and
exposed sections throughout the movements providing accountability for whole sections and
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individuals. These pieces are undoubtedly incredibly fun to perform, and students will be driven
to practice (especially on the last movement). The cultural and music genre aspect is also a great
learning avenue.
#18 With Quiet Courage

Title of Piece: With Quiet Courage

Composer: Larry Daehn
Year of Publication: 1996
Publisher: Daehn Publications
Grade Level: III

Daehn wrote this piece in dedication to his mother. It was premiered by the U.S. Navy
Band the year it was composed. It is a short lyrical setting full of emotional grandeur and
heartfelt melodies. Daehn was a public-school educator for around thirty-five years, and taught
at all levels. Many of his compositions are for educational purposes or for young ensembles.
This piece in particular is composed for younger ensembles. The only non-conventional wind
ensemble instruments in the scoring are the E-flat clarinet and the alto clarinet.
This piece gives students something very real and powerful to connect to. The love of
family over time can be expressed and channeled in this piece’s simple and beautiful melodies
and rich harmonies. Students will be challenged to listen to each other, watch for musical
direction and interpretation from the director, and to shape and connect the lyrical phrases
throughout this deceptively difficult piece.
#19 Academic Festival Overture

Title of Piece: Academic Festival Overture

Composer: Johannes Brahms (tr. Hindsley)
Year of Publication: 1881 / 1970
Publisher: Hindsley Transcriptions
Grade Level: V

Brahms had initially written this piece for the orchestra of the Breslau University in
gratitude for awarding him an honorary doctorate. Brahms had initially only wanted to have a
written thank-you, but the conductor at the college implored him to formally compose music to
better show his gratitude. Since Brahms had a great sense of humor, he went about composing
this piece with many drinking songs, student spirit melodies, and parody pieces known
extensively by those who were part of the college body. Full of counterpoint, great scoring, and
humorous outbursts, this piece remains popular in ensembles of many kinds even today. The
piece has four distinct sections that run as one continuous piece. A conductor might need to deal
with the score calling for contrabassoon, contrabass clarinet, and cornets.
This piece is simply a great time. The students will be challenged technically in a few
areas, and will need guidance on making it through the piece. With sufficient rehearsal, this can
be a great piece to just enjoy performing with the ensemble. It is joyous, humorous, and makes
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people happy (as was Brahms intention). Besides being a piece with general education
properties and of great repute, it also has history lesson possibilities mixed with culture. There
could also be learning opportunities in talking about the orchestra, or even collaboration
#20 Americans We

Title of Piece: Americans We

Composer: Henry Fillmore (ed. Frederick Fennell)
Year of Publication: 1929 / 1979
Publisher: Carl Fischer
Grade Level: IV

Americans We is the most beloved march written by Henry Fillmore. It is part of the
triad of marches that shaped the American march idiom; the other two being Bagley’s National
Emblem March, and Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever. Fillmore dedicated the piece to
Americans; all Americans past, present, and future. It was Fillmore’s wish to inspire happiness
with his music, and that concept shows clearly in this ecstatic piece. The original work was
written for military band, but was later arranged for wind ensemble. Instruments that this piece
calls for outside of convention are the E-flat clarinet, alto clarinet, E-flat and B-flat contrabass
clarinets, and kettle drums.
This piece is another American classic tune that offers many different areas of growth to
students. The form of the piece is given to be good, and the piece is renowned as a founding
work in the military band repertoire. Student responsibility in this piece, like any other march
like this, can be highly customized to fit the ensembles capabilities and needs. On top of that,
this is a really fun and happy piece to perform. The history and importance of this work in the
symphonic band repertoire could be an interesting tie in.
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