We thank guest blogger Andrew England, candidate for Master of Music in Conducting in the Meadows School of the Arts, for this contribution.

Programming a concert for a performing ensemble can be a daunting task. There are many great possibilities, but there are also many factors to take into account, as I discovered when creating a concert program for the Meadows Wind Ensemble as part of my coursework towards a Master of Music degree in Conducting.

The Meadows Wind Ensemble is a flexible ensemble with access to some of the finest undergraduate and graduate wind, percussion, and string players in the country. This allows for the programming of repertoire that is typically out of the realm of consideration for other collegiate wind bands. The concert I was assigned to program had both the benefit and hindrance of having a programmatic theme—Americana and patriotism in music. With this in mind, I began the planning process by utilizing the resources of the Hamon Arts Library.

It’s advisable when working with a common programmatic theme, such as patriotism, to select music that is both expected and unexpected. With this goal in mind, I first looked for works that are appropriately arranged for a given instrumentation that the audience would expect to be on the program. I began my search by listening to concerts of the President’s Own Marine Band that are easily accessible through the Naxos Music Library, an online resource provided by the Hamon Arts Library. After establishing a basis of a few common pieces that I wanted on the concert program, I turned my attention to the unexpected. Finding pieces that are not typical to the instrumentation of a wind band or idiomatic to a patriotic concert was a fun research task.

There are many bibliographies with detailed lists of recommended repertoire available in the Hamon Arts Library. For this project, I used Frank Battisti’s The Twentieth Century Wind Band/Ensemble: History, Development, and Literature, the Band Music Guide, a resource published by the education journal The Instrumentalist, and John H. Baron’s Chamber Music: A Research and Information Guide, both of which are found in the library’s reference section. I also used Richard Franko Goldman’s The Band’s Music, which can be found in the regular stacks on the third floor. After reading over repertoire lists provided in these books, I was able to detail a list of possible repertoire selections for further listening and study. At this point I was again able to use the Naxos Music Library along with CDs from the library to listen to some of the music.  I then gathered a few scores from the library’s holdings to make final decisions on my project. Overall the resources of the Hamon Arts Library are invaluable when programming and studying music for performance.

See the Meadows Wind Ensemble in concert on Friday, April 17 at 8 pm.

Image via Flickr.