By Abby Fricke
The Furman Band premiered their final performance for the year with the presentation of their spring concert this past Friday. Both the Symphonic and Wind Ensembles performed pieces by the world famous composer David Maslanka. The two ensembles also had the opportunity to work with Maslanka personally during the week leading up to the concert.
Known for his celebrated compositions, Maslanka earned an undergraduate degree at Oberlin College and went on to receive his masters and graduate degrees at Michigan State. From a young age, Maslanka was exposed to music and developed an interest as well as desire to compose. Maslanka’s other works include pieces for choirs, wind ensembles, chamber music, and orchestra.
Despite his obvious ability to compose, Maslanka said he still finds the compositional process challenging.
“There’s a time when I’m thoroughly disgusted and want to burn the music,” he said. “It’s the quality of patience. If I waited for inspiration it would never come.”
Maslanka, who currently lives with his wife in Montana, encouraged young musicians to “follow your heart as best you can.”
“There are so many practical considerations about making a living,” he said. “The nature of opportunities is to do what you want. I became a professor to earn a living but held firmly to the image of self as a composer.”
Maslanka worked with each of the bands separately in order to prepare them for the concert this past Friday.
“The bands are quite able to play,” Maslanka said, adding that the end performance is a “culmination of the conductor and the band working together to find the real sound.”
In addition to working with the bands, Maslanka gave a memorable speech during the concert emphasizing the importance of music and reacting to the world and events that take place around you.
The wind ensemble performed Maslanka’s “Symphony No. 4.” The piece was originally commissioned to be 10 minutes but turned into a 27 minute symphony. Maslanka had the idea to compose a piece from the perspective of Abraham Lincoln and what his advice to the world would be. The doxology and funeral procession, as well of tones of a distant band, can all be heard throughout the piece. Most notable was the energy delivered by the percussionists, which took some “energetic boosting” on the composer’s part.
The symphonic band performed Maslanka’s “Traveler,” which was commissioned for a fellow conductor’s former students. The piece reflects life and the movement associated with it. The symphonic band also performed “Mosaics” by Timothy Kramer, “Pageant” by Vincent Persichetti, “Candide Suite” by Leonard Bernstein, and “The Rifle Regiment” by John Philip Sousa.
Both bands congratulated the seniors for their hard work and dedication these past four years. Each senior was recognized and wore a flower.