Liner Notes for
INVICTUS - Nine New Works for Winds & Percussion
In my opinion, there's nobody else writing for wind band like composer Mark Wolfram. Stymied by pandemic cancellations of his premieres over the past couple years, Mark took matters into his own hands to assemble the brilliant musicians of the Los Angeles Studio Wind Ensemble to bring these pieces to life.
THE SWASHBUCKLER opens this disc with plenty of swagger. Because it's a concert march, it goes places that a traditional march wouldn't, with exciting character, interesting harmonic changes and unorthodox meter usage. In a nutshell, it's one helluva march!
INVICTUS is a rhapsodic tone poem inspired by William Henley's 1875 opus. The music follows the emotional arc of the original poem - initially dark and brooding - and ultimately moving to a place of confidence and triumph.
Mark's reverence for Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address provided the framework and inspiration for WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE, a hymn for band that mirrors the 16th president's ennobling sentiments and brings many satisfying departures from the musically expected. My group (the Boise State University Symphonic Winds) had the honor and privilege to premiere this work.
Mark makes friends with band people everywhere, and after he gifted the director of the Arizona Symphonic Winds with an original piece, Maestro László Veres requested THE TUCSON MARCH in honor of the city they both love! It's fun, good energy stuff!
I'm looking forward to premiering MONKEY MIND next month in Boise. It's unsettled, agitated, exciting - and a little dangerous, like reading a Stephen King short story before bed.
I love the tongue-in-cheek blending of traditional and comedic musical elements in FOUR FRIPPERIES. Each movement evokes more than its title would imply, and they each take the listener on an emotional journey. The last movement, MARCH AZURE is a trifle "twisted" ala Monty Python. Big fun!
Like me, Mark is immeasurably grateful for how the band world has shaped his life, and his PAEAN reflects that appreciation. Richly sonorous, with its chorales of brass vs. woodwinds, and multiple step-out solos, PAEAN optimistically acknowledges the blessings of a lifetime involvement with band.
Mark's dad was a Lutheran minister before becoming a teacher, and his ethics and faith provided the foundation of Mark's credo; "taking the time to do the job right." HOMILY mirrors those lessons in the form of a musical sermon, weaving a tapestry of values and ideals. It isn't always an easy road, but in the end, it's wisest to adhere to one's core beliefs.
LABYRINTH is a puzzle inside a puzzle; with no easy answers, alternately crisp and inquisitive, calm and tumultuous, the work runs the gamut of angular melodies, colorful sonorities and combines several compositional styles. The final movement closes the disc with a wild send-off!
I can't wait for my colleagues to dig into these new works, and to get to know composer Mark Wolfram. The "gatekeepers" in the band world need to stop and listen; Mark's is a unique, passionate, sophisticated and honest voice that needs to be heard, and these new wind band pieces need to be performed!
Marcellus B. Brown - October 2022
Marcellus Brown is the Director of Bands at Boise State University and conducts the University Symphonic Winds and the Treasure Valley Concert Band. Professor Brown commissioned Mark Wolfram's "SPECTRAL SHIFTS for Clarinet Trio and Band" which he and the University Symphonic Winds premiered at the 81st Annual American Bandmasters Association Convention in March 2015.