I first became aware of the Speckled Hen Overture this spring at the National ASTA Conference. This is a cool little overture that includes a slow opening in 3, a lovely, flowing 6/8 section, another slow, expressive section in 3, and finishes with a jumpy “hoe down.” It is listed as a grade 3.5 and that is accurate in my opinion. There are numerous opportunities for expressive, dynamic playing in the opening sections and my orchestra has focused a great deal on creating the contrasts that are apparent in the music. The allegro final section is a bunch of fun and provides challenges for all sections of the ensemble. The bass section has to hold its own as the celli often break into melodic or counter-melodic lines.
I have a couple of hot shot fiddle players in this ensemble, so the classic, Monti Czardas, was a late addition. I wanted to feature my 4 top violins and even added a little cadenza and bit of humor for my principal cellist. I think this will be a show-stopper. I want to thank the arranger, Percy Hall, for giving us permission to use this arrangement on very short notice. He has been wonderful to work with and I was so pleased to know that his granddaughter is on staff at Interlochen this summer, managing the junior ensembles. I had actually met her previously and didn’t make the family connection. This is such a small world!
Richard Stephan’s Fantasia on a 17th Century Tune is one that I have done many times before. Based on the hymn tune known best with the text, “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” this haunting melody flows throughout the work. The rich harmonies with many twists and turns in tempo and style make this an interesting and moving piece in any program. It is very accessible, features the cello section, and really compliments a young orchestra.
Finally, we will finish with Thom Sharp’s In Can Her Ya Knockin’, an up tempo swing tune in D minor. This cool little tune calls for a solid bass section walking through nearly the entire work. There is a difficult, but super cool, shout chorus toward the end of the tune. Those of you that know me, know that I love Thom Sharp’s writing and arranging. The jazz orchestra sounds that he creates are second to none. This one has an open solo section in the middle. We will be featuring the Interlochen Intermediate Jazz Instructor, David Kay, on tenor sax in this one and I will probably pull out the electric violin as well. ;) Lots of opportunities here to teach swing style eights, be-bop, a bit of improv, reading jazz figures, and counting, counting, counting!
I think our last concert is going to really rock. Lots of variety and crowd pleasing music.