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Fascinating Rhythm! A selection of dances
Spring Concert 2024 Programme Notes


Amparito Roca

Jaime Texidor (Spain) , 1884-1957

Amparito Roca is a march/pasodoble written in 1925 by the Spanish composer Jaime Texidor (1884-1957) and dedicated to its namesake, who was at that time his 12-year old piano student.

Unlike British, American and German marches, where the trio is usually in a key related to that of the first strain, this piece follows the common Spanish practice of switching from minor to major, creating an effect not unlike that of the sun appearing through the clouds.


Romanian Folk Dances

Bela Bartók, 1881-1945 (Hungary), arr. H Richards

Traveling throughout the most remote regions of Hungary in the early 1900s, the Hungarian composers Bela Bartók (1881-1945) and Zoltan Kodály (1882-1967) transcribed, saved, recorded on an “Edison” phonograph, and classified thousands of folk tunes which provided tunes, rhythms, harmonies, and ideas for their compositions (Bartók’s opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, for example) as well as scholarly monographs and a gigantic set of twelve volumes containing their research. The intent was to provide examples of, foundation for, and a renaissance of authentic Hungarian music.

This quest led them into Transylvania, which had been part of Hungary for many years at that time (it was added permanently to Romania in 1920). Bartók noted, “I have collected Hungarian, as well as Slovak and Romanian folk music and used them as models.”

The Romanian Dances were written between 1915-1917, first for piano and later orchestrated. You can hear Bartók himself playing some of them on Youtube here. There is also a popular arrangement, created by Zoltán Székely, for violin and piano.


In order, the Dances are:

Bot tánc / Jocul cu bâtă (Stick Dance) – inspired by a melody Bartók heard played by two folk violinists in a Transylvanian village

Brâul (Sash Dance) – a traditional Romanian dance which uses a sash around the dancers’ waists

Topogó / Pe loc (In One Spot) – slow and haunting, it evokes a middle eastern flute over an open 5th drone

Bucsumí tánc / Buciumeana (Dance from Bucsum) – a slow Romanian folk dance

Román polka / Poarga Românească (Romanian Polka) – a quick dance

Aprózó / Mărunțel (Fast Dance) – two distinct melodies played as one movement

We are playing an arrangement for Wind Orchestra by Harry Richards.


The Dancing Years

Ivor Novello (Wales), 1893-1951arr. J Holland


This medley takes us on a journey through the enchanting world of Ivor Novello's "The Dancing Years". Set against the backdrop of Vienna's glittering heyday, the musical follows the story of Rudi Kleber, a Jewish composer, torn between his love for two women as war looms. It opened in Drury Lane, touring at the start of the Second World War before returning to the Adelphi Theatre. It ran for 696 performances in the West End before closing in July 1944.

Born David Ivor Davies in 1893, Novello emerged as a prodigious talent whose compositions and performances would shape the landscape of musical entertainment in the early 20th century. He enjoyed success as both a composer and an actor, working on both the stage (including in The Dancing Years and other musicals he wrote) and the screen. He died in 1951, at the age of 58. The Ivor Novello awards were established in his honour in 1955.

This medley includes ‘Lorelei’, ‘Waltz of My Heart’, ‘I Can Give You the Starlight’, ‘My Life Belongs to You’, ‘Primrose’, ‘My Dearest Dear’, ‘The Wings of Sleep’, ‘Let’s Say Goodbye’ and ‘Leap Year Waltz’.


Conga del Fuego Nuevo

Alberto Marquez, (Mexico), 1950-. arr. O Nickel

Arturo Marquez was born in Alamos, Mexico, in 1950. His father was a player in mariachi bands, which are typical Mexican folk music ensembles. Marquez’s music takes inspiration from his childhood, mixing together Mexican and Latin American styles of folk and street music and bringing them into a concert context.

His Conga del Fuego Nuevo is an up-tempo, celebratory piece.  It is inspired by the Afro-Cuban conga, which is both a music genre and a tall, narrow drum from Cuba, which in this piece provides the traditional rhythm of the dance.

The title of the piece refers back to the “New Fire ceremony”, or “Ceremonia del Fuego Nuevo” in Spanish, an Aztec ceremony performed once every 52 years to stave off the end of the world, where all fires were extinguished and new ones started to represent the starting of a new world.


Alberto Pestalozza (Italy), 1851-1934.                 arr. O. Richards


‘Ciribiribin’ is a charming Italian ballad composed by Alberto Pestalozza in 1898, with lyrics by Carlo Tiochet. Originally conceived as a waltz, the song’s catchy melody – you’ll be humming it on the way home – has enchanted audiences for over a century. Its distinctive feature is the repeated use of the five-note title phrase.

Popular with 1930s and 40s jazz bands, who liked to play it in 4/4 time with swing, ‘Ciribiribin’ has been recorded by many artists, spanning various genres and styles. This includes Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. It also includes American trumpeter and band leader Harry James, who adopted ‘Ciribiribin’ as his theme song and wrote some pleasingly cheesy English lyrics for it with songwriter Jack Lawrence.

Search for the song on your favourite music streaming service and you’ll be spoilt for choice, from versions for the accordion to arrangements for violin duo. It’s also worth hunting down the whistling ‘Ciribiribin Waltz’ by vocalist Guido Gialdini, recorded in 1911. Or if you’re more of a rock ‘n’ roll fan, check out the 1963 ‘Gotta Lotta Love’ adaptation – in 4/4 time – sung by Steve Alaimo.



Fascinating Rhythm (medley)

George Gershwin (USA), 1898-1937. arr. R. Cawkwell

George Gershwin was one of the greatest American composers of the 20th Century; his jazz-influenced style was so iconic that, when he inquired if he might study with classical great Maurice Ravel, he was told: "Why become a second-rate Ravel when you're already a first-rate Gershwin?"  He sadly died of a brain tumour aged only 38, but left a legacy of over 500 songs, the ground-breaking opera “Porgy and Bess”, and, the clarinetist’s favourite, “Rhapsody in Blue”. 

Many of his songs have become jazz standards; we are playing a medley of these in our concert today, including Fascinating Rhythm (from “Lady Be Good”), A Foggy Day (from “A Damsel in Distress”), and Clap Yo’ Hands (from “Oh, Kay!”), arranged by the band’s first conductor, Roger Cawkwell.

Fuego de la Danza

Jean-Pierre Haeck (Belgium), 1968-

Jean-Pierre Haeck (born 1968) is a Belgian composer and conductor.  Following his musical studies, Haeck initially played trombone before becoming a conductor.  Since 2009, alongside conducting, he has composed music for symphony orchestras and concert bands.


As its name suggests, Fuego de la Danza (“Fire Dance”) is a fiery Paso Doble written for wind band.  The piece opens with a punchy section in the minor. Here, the prominent snare drum part highlights the fact that, despite being a dance, the Paso Doble has its roots in Spanish military marches.  Before long, this militaristic style gives way to something more lyrical as Haeck plays off two different melodic ideas against each other, one in the oboes, clarinets and alto saxophones and the other in the bassoons, tenor saxophone and euphonium.


The rest of the piece explores and juxtaposes militaristic and lyrical themes in a number of different contexts, most notably with a charming duet for the first clarinets and alto saxophones, before coming to a raucous ending.

An Irish Rhapsody

Clare Grundman (USA), 1913-1996

Irish traditional music has been an inspiration to composers as various as Felix Mendelssohn, Benjamin Britten and Leroy Anderson. In this exuberant piece first performed in 1971, American composer Clare Grundman skilfully weaves together a selection of folk tunes, songs and dances from Ireland.  

After an opening fanfare we hear the song "The Minstrel Boy" dating back to the early 19th century.  This leads into "I Know Where I'm Going", a ballad which has been claimed by both Scotland and Ireland and which is here given a tender, chorale-like treatment.  "Shepherd's Lamb Reel" is a lively jig which begins in the upper woodwind before being taken up by the whole band.  We then reach perhaps the most familiar of all Irish melodies, "Molly Malone", also known as "Cockles and Mussels", and often described as Dublin's unofficial anthem.


"The Rakes of Mallow" brings another tempo change, featuring piccolo and flutes over a ground bass in a tune used frequently in Hollywood movies and as an accompaniment to traditional Irish dancing.  A recapitulation of the opening fanfare introduces the lyrical "Kathleen O'More", and in the final section snatches of the melodies heard so far make a reappearance before the piece builds to a rousing finale.

Suspiro and Bella fanciulla io t'amo

Francisca ‘Chiquinha’ Gonzaga (Brazil), 1847-1935.

arr. S. Huston 

With a vast career spanning over fifty years, Francisca ‘Chiquinha’ Gonzaga (1847-1935) was a prominent composer in Brazil during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  A prolific composer of dance and light music, she wrote over two hundred pieces.  Many of these are for the piano, but she also wrote a number of operettas, leaning into the popularity of opera in Rio at a time when many European divas would travel to Brazil.  Chiquinha is now best known as a composer in the ‘choro’ style, which combined elements of music from West African, Portuguese and classical Western traditions.  This style has its roots in the fact that around forty per cent of all slaves trafficked to the Americas were brought to Brazil.  Indeed, like so many Brazilians, Chiquinha was mixed-race and created an artistic aesthetic built around this coming together of disparate peoples and cultures.  And yet, she lived for nearly forty years at a time when slavery was still legal in Brazil; it was the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery in 1888.


These two short pieces show Chiquinha’s range as a composer of dances: while Suspiro (‘Sigh’) is a fiery tango with pervasive tresillo rhythms and syncopation, Bella fanciulla io t’amo (‘Beautiful girl I love you’) is a much more meditative waltz dedicated to Chiquinha’s younger sister, Joana.  These orchestrations attempt to bring out these differences, with the former much more percussion-heavy and the latter orchestrated just for winds.


Yiddish Dances

Adam Gorb (UK), 1958-

Yiddish Dances by Adam Gorb, dedicated to conductor Timothy Reynish on his 60th birthday, was written for Symphonic Wind Orchestra in 1998. In the spirit of birthday celebrations, Yiddish Dances is very much a party piece. It brings together Gorb’s self described “abiding passions”: the Symphonic Wind Orchestra and Klezmer – the folk music of the Yiddish-speaking people.


Klezmer music has its origins in Europe among the Ashkenazi Jews. The word is a Yiddish contraction of the Hebrew words for instrument (kley) and song (zemer). This traditional folk music borrows inspiration from music from the synagogue, Roma peoples, European folk music, and even classical music.


The five movements of Gorb’s Yiddish Dances are all based on set Klezmer dances:


1. Khosidl – a medium tempo 2/4 in which the music moves between satire, sentimentality and pathos.

2. Terkishe – an up-tempo Jewish tango.

3. Doina – a free recitative in which various instruments in the band get a chance to show off.


4. Hora – slow 3/8 time with a characteristic rocking rhythm.


5. Freylachs – very fast 2/4 time in which themes from the previous movements are recalled, ending in a riotous ‘booze-up’ for all concerned.


Gorb revised the piece in 2003 and also re-wrote Yiddish Dances in 2020 for chamber orchestra. This was primarily to allow for socially distanced ensembles during the pandemic but also re-imagines the dances for ensemble sizes more akin to the size of traditional Klezmer bands (14 instruments). Thankfully we are able to play the non-socially distanced wind orchestra version today!

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