Program Notes: Crossroads Wind Symphony and KU Wind Ensemble - Nov. 16, 2021


Crossroads Wind Symphony

Paul W. Popiel, Conductor

Fanfare Aureas (2011) - Kimberly Archer (b. 1973)

Commissioned by the Florida State University Summer Music Camps, Fanfare Aureus is a homage to experiences the composer herself had playing trumpet and horn at these camps. The Latin word aureus means “gold.” Archer cleverly overlaps allusions to “Garnet and Gold,” the golden sun that shines brightest on Tallahassee, and the flashing gold of a glorious FSU horn section.
- Program note by publisher

Kimberly K. Archer (b. 1973 in Mendota, IL) is currently serving as Professor of Composition at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Illinois. Past appointments include Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Western Carolina University in North Carolina, and Southeast High School in Florida. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education from The Florida State University, a Master of Music in Composition from Syracuse University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from The University of Texas at Austin. Her teachers include David Maslanka, David Gillingham, Andrew Waggoner, Donald Grantham, and Charlie Carter.

Alegre (2000) - Tania Léon (b. 1943)

Alegre is a Spanish word meaning “joyful.” Utilizing the style of a Latin groove, the piece is a showcase for rhythmic dexterity. It also demonstrates the inextricable link in Latin American cultures between music and dance. León incorporates the stylistic elements of ostinati with off-beat accents and improvisation to create a brilliant piece that excites both mind and body.
- Program note by the American Composers Forum

Tania León (b. Havana, Cuba) is highly regarded as a composer, conductor, educator, and advisor to arts organizations. In 2021, her orchestral work Stride, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music. León has received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Colgate University, Oberlin and SUNY Purchase College, and served as U.S. Artistic Ambassador of American Culture in Madrid, Spain. A CUNY Professor Emerita, she was awarded a 2018 United States Artists Fellowship.

Remembering the Remarkables (2020) - Grace Baugher (b. 1995)

Written in honor of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and the passage of the 19th Amendment, this piece is about mountains in many forms. Metaphorically speaking, everyone has his or her own mountain to climb and for me that was a literal mountain… You may think you are nearing the top only to realize you are only halfway up. I found that these lessons apply to life as well and the women who were part of the suffrage movement no doubt experienced them in their journey. These remarkable women paved the way for women of the future of have the freedom to pursue the lives they want. Writing this piece is only a small tribute when compared to the gratitude they deserve. The title, Remembering the Remarkables, was inspired by my recent trip to New Zealand. There is a mountain range called the Remarkables on the southern island that is so perfectly picturesque and inspiring that I don’t think I could ever forget them.
- Program note by composer

Khan (2008) - Julie Giroux (b. 1961)

This is a programmatic work depicting Genghis Khan and his army on the move. Most of the work is at a brisk tempo combined with energetic rhythms and driving percussion which continuously propel the music urgently forward. Extreme dynamic contrasts throughout the piece contribute to the emotional turbulence. Genghis Khan and his army ended the lives of thousands of people and his "Warlord" theme with great force, ends this work.
- Program note by composer

Julie Giroux began composing commercially in 1984. She was hired by Oscar winning composer Bill Conti as an orchestrator, her first project with Conti being “North & South” the mini-series. With over 100 film, television and video game credits, Giroux collaborated with dozens of film composers, producers, and celebrities including Samuel Goldwyn, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Madonna, Liza Minnelli, Celine Dion, Paula Abdul, Michael Jackson, Paul Newman, Harry Connick Jr. and many others. Projects she has worked on have been nominated for Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Golden Globe awards. She has won individual Emmy Awards in the field of “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music Direction”. When She won her first Emmy Award, she was the first woman and the youngest person to ever win that award. She has won it three times.

Lights Out (2015) - Alex Shapiro (b. 1962)

I suppose you could call Lights Out an "opto-physico-electro-acoustic" work for wind band, because it was conceived from the onset as a visual media piece. While it can be performed in any normal concert setting, it's most compelling when presented in the dark, slightly disorienting the audience and dazzling them with the beautiful colored aura from glowsticks, smart phones, and small LEDs placed inside the instruments and on the musicians' mallets and fingers. Mesmerizing! Composing this piece, I treated the visuals and movement the same way I treat the audio track— as an equal and additional "section" in the band, organically incorporated into the piece just like the woodwinds, brass and percussion.
- Program note by composer

Composer Alex Shapiro aligns note after note with the hope that at least a few of them will actually sound good next to each other. Her persistence at this activity, as well as non-fiction music writing, arts advocacy, public speaking, wildlife photography, and the shameless instigation of insufferable puns on Facebook, has led to a happy life. Ever boastful of her terminal degree of a high school diploma (an impressive feat having failed 8th grade algebra), Alex lives in the middle of nowhere on a small rock between the coasts of Washington State and British Columbia and draws from a broad musical palette that giddily ignores genre. Her acoustic and electroacoustic works are published by her company Activist Music LLC, have won almost no awards, are performed and broadcast daily, have rarely been reviewed, and can be found on over thirty commercial releases from record labels around the world. No musician or audience member has yet to contact Alex to request their money back. Emphasis on yet.


KU Wind Ensemble

Paul W. Popiel, Conductor

Crackle (2021) - Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964)

Tom Davoren, Guest Conductor

I care about craft, clarity, and passion. My works are organic and, at every level, concerned with transformations and connections. The carefully sculpted musical materials of Crackle are agile and energized, and their flexibility allows a way to braid harmonic, rhythmic, and contrapuntal elements that are constantly transformed — at times whimsical and light, at times jazzy, at times layered and reverberating.
- Program note by composer

A composer featured on a Grammy winning CD by Chanticleer and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Augusta Reed Thomas’ impressive body of works “embodies unbridled passion and fierce poetry” (American Academy of Arts and Letters). She is a University Professor of Composition in Music and the College at The University of Chicago. Thomas was the longest-serving Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for conductors Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez (1997-2006). Thomas won the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, among many other coveted awards. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Musica Ignota (2021) - Ingrid Stözel (b. 1971)

Lucas Peterson, Guest Conductor

The famous Rhineland mystic, nun, healer and composer, Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) hardly needs an introduction…Her extraordinary achievements, all the more astonishing considering the burden of being a woman in a medieval monastic world, have made her something of an international cult figure.

My composition Musica Ignota draws inspiration from Hildegard’s music as well as her lesser-known invented language system entitled Lingua Ignota (Latin for “unknown language”). To write in this imaginary language, she used an alphabet of 23 letters and created a glossary of over 1000 beautiful, unknown words, presumably intended as a universal language for mystical purposes. The opening to the glossary in the Wiesbaden Riesencodex disarmingly states that Lingua Ignota is “an unknown language brought forward by the simple human being Hildegard (Ignota lingua per simplicem hominem Hildegardem prolata).” Having grown up in the Rhineland myself, I have long been fascinated by Hildegard von Bingen and it is my hope that the “unknown music” brought forth in Musica Ignota, serves to honor her life and work.
- Program note by composer

Composer Ingrid Stölzel has been described as having “a gift for melody” (San Francisco Classical Voice) and “evoking a sense of longing” that creates “a reflective and serene soundscape that makes you want to curl up on your windowsill to re-listen on a rainy day.”

Stölzel’s compositions have been commissioned by leading soloists and ensembles, and performed in concert halls and festivals worldwide, including Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Seoul Arts Center, Thailand International Composition Festival, and many more international organizations. Her music has been recognized in numerous competitions, among them recently, the Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composer’s Award, Red Note Composition Competition, the Robert Avalon International Competition for Composers, and the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra Competition. Stölzel teaches composition at the University of Kansas School of Music.

Symphony V: Elements (2018) - Julie Giroux (b. 1961)

  1. Sun
  2. Rain
  3. Wind

When I was a kid, I always had a job. My family didn’t have much money, so there were plenty of chores but no allowance. If I wanted something I had to make the money myself and buy it. I spent all my money on music: printed music, record albums, headphones, and record player needles. I would turn out the lights, put on headphones and listen to entire symphonies late into the night while laying on the floor, eyes closed letting the music take me to wondrous places. Beethoven, Mozart, Mahler, Holst, Mussorgsky, Sibelius, Saint-Saëns, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Berlioz and Rossini were my travel guides.

When I sat down to write Symphony No. 5, my goal was to take people to wondrous inner places. Holst’s The Planets, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition were two of my favorite works, like painting pictures with music. I wanted to do the same thing with my 5th symphony. Those two works were quite masculine with strong, hard musical edges. I wanted to do something more feminine. I think we have the name Mother Nature and not Father Nature for that reason. Nature doesn’t have hard, masculine edges. Everything is fluid, parts of a greater force, like a natural, endless reincarnation, which is as feminine as birth.

Symphony No. 5 is my attempt at creating a work worthy of listening to in the dark, letting music take you on a tour of the inner sanctums of Mother Nature. To describe with notes and phrases how the Sun feels on your skin, the loneliness of a 10-billion-year life, and the power of sustaining life here on Earth. To drench the listener with Rain. Its beauty, its destruction, its melancholy, wrapped up in everything living on earth. An inner journey of the water inside everything. Finally, the Wind; its power, unpredictability, its life-taking forces or when it’s as soft as a sensual breeze, caressing a sweat-covered body. To whirl into a twister only to blow itself out and to weave its essence musically with Sun and Rain.
- Program note by composer from University of North Texas Symphonic Band concert program, 23 October 2018


Conductor Biographies

Paul W. Popiel, Conductor

Paul W. Popiel, professor of music, is the Director of Bands at the University of Kansas, only the seventh person to hold this position in the band's storied 125-year history. Popiel also leads the Crossroads Wind Symphony since its inception in 2018.

His Carnegie Hall debut in 2013 was heralded by the New York Times: “The ensemble, conducted by Paul W. Popiel, performed with polish, assurance and copious spirit, eliciting a rousing ovation;” while New York’s Feast of Music said, “Give credit to Popiel, a strong advocate for new music, who went for broke, succeeding in showing us that there is, in fact, real, adventurous music being made over on the other side of the rainbow.”

Popiel has lectured and performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, China, and Asia. He has several highly acclaimed performance and production credits for CDs on the Klavier, Naxos, Ecstatic, Summit, and Mark Custom labels. His latest recording project Freedom from Fear, released in 2020, features recordings of works by Aaron Perrine, David Maslanka, and Kevin Walczyk.

Popiel holds degrees from Truman State University, the University of Notre Dame, and Michigan State University. A recipient of a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship, he also earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Twentieth-Century Music at the University of Bristol, England. Popiel was also the Frank L. Battisti Conducting Fellow serving as the Resident Conductor of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

Tom Davoren, Guest Conductor

Originally from Wales in the United Kingdom, Tom Davoren serves as Director of Bands and Assistant Professor of Music at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and he is currently completing a DMA in wind conducting at the University of Kansas, studying with Dr. Paul W. Popiel.

He has extensive experience as a conductor in British brass bands, having led bands to titles including the National Brass Band Championship of Great Britain, British Open Senior Trophy and Cup, and Welsh Open. He is also the former Director of Bands of the University of Salford, home of the United Kingdom’s most historic band musicianship degree course.

Tom is an internationally successful composer whose most recent award is the Merrill Jones Composition Prize from the National Band Association. His music has been performed by bands including ‘The President’s Own’ United States Marine Band, United States Air Force Concert Band, Central Band of the Royal Air Force, at venues such as New York’s Carnegie Hall, CBDNA National Conference, Midwest Clinic, and Jeju International Festival, to name a few. His music has been premiered on four continents and appears on 25 commercial recordings.

Lucas Peterson, Guest Conductor

A native of Iowa, Lucas Petersen just finished his tenth year of teaching and fourth year as the Director of Bands at Winterset High School in Winterset, IA. He received his Master of Music degree in instrumental conducting from the University of Northern Iowa, and his Bachelor of Music degree in clarinet performance from the University of Iowa.

Under his direction, the Winterset Wind Ensemble performed twice at the Iowa Bandmasters Association Conference: in 2018 as a clinic band and in 2019 as the Class 3A Conference Honor Band. He is a member of the Iowa Bandmasters Association, the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, the Internationale Gessellschaft zur Erforschung und Förderung der Blasmusik, and he is an alumnus of the Beta Nu chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.


Women Band Directors International

Women Band Directors International (WBDI) represents women band directors of all pedagogical levels and years of experience from college students to retired directors. It is the only international organization for women band directors featured toward promoting women, providing support and community, and mentoring women in the band field.

Purpose:

  1. To foster a spirit of friendliness, fellowship, and cooperation among women band directors in the schools of America and abroad.
  2. To provide a common meeting ground for an exchange of ideas, methods, and problems relevant to women band directors.
  3. To provide encouragement, support, and mentorship for young women entering the instrumental music field.
  4. To develop comprehensive programs that will be of a musical and educational benefit to women band directors and their students.
  5. To work with administrators to provide the best music education possible and to provide for the equality of women in the profession.
  6. To cooperate with existing organizations whose demonstrated purpose is to further improve the band as a worthwhile medium of musical expression.

The Kansas chapter of the Women Band Directors International (KWBDI) is affiliated with the Kansas Bandmasters Association and was informally established in June 2020 and is chaired by Jennifer Antonetti, University of Kansas Bands alumna and Topeka High School Director of Bands.