POTSDAM - Music is meant to be stolen. As an interactive art form, music begs not only to be to be played, but to be played with as well. As long as there has been music to hear, people have taken it and made it their own.
Finding historical examples of this practice is an easy matter. Whether using a popular tune as the basis for the Mass Ordinary – as in the 40 or so versions of Missa LHomme Arme from the 15th century; or re-crafting a work for different instrumentation – just read Mozarts letters to his father, wherein he expresses his concern that someone will arrange his opera, Abduction from the Seraglio, for harmonie (a wind band using pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons and horns) before he gets a chance to; or creating subtle (or not-so subtle) layers of meaning by alluding to existing music – look at the symphonies of Haydn, Mahler and Shostakovich; there are myriad ways, overt or covert, to steal.
Thankfully, no genre of music, either past or present, is free from this wonderful and fruitful practice. Whether we call it recontextualizing, appropriation, borrowing, covering, sampling, or some other fancy name, it all boils down to taking an existing idea, and by altering it in some fashion, making it your own.
In its concert subtitled Stolen Moments, Northern Symphonic Winds celebrates this venerated musical practice. Each of the three works composed by Charles Ives started out as works for some other medium: The Alcotts – piano, The Circus Band – voice and piano; Country Band March – orchestra.
However, in each of these works there are also allusions to several musical gems of Americana – some readily heard, some obliquely presented. Coplands tone poem, El Salon Mexico, borrows Mexican folk music to depict the famous Dance Hall. Mark Hindsleys setting for band alters the length, instrumentation, and varies the rhythmic organizational structure. The title of Norman Dello Joios Fantasies on a Theme by Haydn fully explains his musical intent. Taking a snippet of Haydns music, Dello Joio spins a set of six variations. Although wholly original, Morton Goulds Symphony for Band borrows the archetypal symphonic form, creating a two-movement masterpiece for winds. To open our concert, renowned local composer Paul Siskind has rescored his orchestral work, Clarion Call, for wind band.
The concert will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at Hosmer Hall on the campus of SUNY Potsdam.
Tickets will be available at the door and are available at Northern Music and Video. Admission foradults is $10, seniors is $5, and students is $2.