This Community Band Is Up to the Challenge

It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. Such a little thing. ~ Boromir, about the ring in Lord of the Rings.

imageWhen the Woodinville Community Band director Leah MacDuffie said she’d luv to have our band perform Johan de Meij’s “The Lord of the Rings: Symphony No. 1” there were a number of challenges facing us. This piece is described thusly:

Lord of the Rings, The (Symphony No. 1) – Complete Edition. (Score and Parts). By Johan De Meij. Amstel Music. Grade 5-6. Amstel Music

This monumental work, inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien‘s literary masterpiece, is a challenging and uniquely rewarding composition for the advanced concert band. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2008, Johan de Meij’s work was awarded the Sudler Prize for composition in 1990 and continues to receive important performances yearly. Each of the five movements is also available separately. (Grade 5).

The piece is a very expensive $700 which is more than most community band’s yearly budget for new music. This challenge was met by a contribution from a member of the band. Many of us wanted to do this, so this was a huge step and greatly appreciated.

If you read the description of the symphony above you might notice that it is rated 5 – 6 which is about as hard as it gets. Community bands tend to be volunteer organizations, so having the talent necessary to make this chart work is also out of reach for most groups. In Seattle we have many, many great wind symphonies. The Woodinville Community Band is one of these as you will see and hear in the video below.

Then there is the challenge of the the thinly written, very exposed parts. I selected this recording because it illustrated that very clearly, right from the start of the piece. It should be noted that in Movement III – Gollum (Smeagol), our soprano sax soloist is Molly Pond, the principal saxophonist for the Woodinville Community Band.

The band and director sweated blood, sweat, and tear to get this symphony to the public. Hours of practice, days of listening to recordings, and a lot of director prowess went into making this concert a success. Talking to members of the audience afterwards, I think the concert was a success. Although the music was not recognizable without introduction, the music was at once moody, striking, and moving.

Here’s hoping you enjoy the performance. And remember, support your local community band.

About Gandalfe

Just an itinerant saxophonist trying to find life between the changes. I have retired from the Corps of Engineers and Microsoft. I am an admin on the Woodwind Forum, run the Seattle Solid GOLD Big Band (formerly the Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra) a GOLD sax quartet, and enjoy time with family and friends.
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