Visions from the North
The music

Visions from the North is a sort of historic suite describing different kinds of moods and events of past times in Scandinavia. The first movement is a gloomy war-time march, climaxing to a battle scene in the middle; the second paints a picture of a midnight sunís dance with a touch of eroticism in it, though hidden under white veils; the third builds an atmosphere, where it is possible to get in touch with the ancient, mythical gods - until it suddenly explodes to a very earthly Kingís March. The king of this movement is a little childish, maybe even stubborn, but greatly loved by his people; the end is like a firework display.

Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble was written for and dedicated to Mr. Ken Ticknor, Instructor of Saxophone at Washburn University in Topekam Kansas. Most of the melodic ideas are lyrical in nature (even in the faster sections) for the purpose of bringing out the naturally lyric qualites of Ken Ticknor's playing, as well as the lyrical qualities of the saxophone in general.
    Throughout the three movement work, the composer has focused the melodic material around two main themes. The first melodic motif is in the opening brass fanfare. The second melodic motif  found in the first slow section of the first movement is the basis for the entire second movement and much of the third. Harmonically, the composer uses mainly triadic writing throughout, but he also shifts alternating major/minor triads over tonic or dominant bass pedals. This is especially prevelant in much of the second and third movements as well, with a hint of it in the first movement.

The Concertino for trumpet and orchester is in fact inspired from the roof of Roskilde Cathedral. This roof is covered by cupper plates and at a certain area, the connections between the plates are specially marked and are creating a line. If you think of this area covered by five lines, a tune is created and this is used all through the concertino: in the 1st movement as main theme, in the 2nd movement as a chorale, and in the 3rd movement as a contra-part to the main theme of the final. The concertino was originally written for brass band, but here it is rearranged for The Danish Concert Band by the composer.

Ergesia (1996) is at piece of energy of sound, describing the experience of a devine Utopia here called Ergesia. In the centre of an almost inaudible statically vibration an ommense energy of divinity is hidden. By long melodious lines the energy is aroused - it expands and rises against a climax - a self-forgetting and cosmic culmination. Then the energy draws back. There is silence again. Finally a sorrowful and unreal state of being left behind. To all the guardian angels around us.

Blue Shades (1996) alludes, as the title suggests, to the Blues, and a jazz feeling is prevalent - however, it is not literally a Blues piece. There is not a single 12-bar blues progression to be found, and except for a few isolated sections, the eighth-note is not swung. The work, however, is heavily influenced by the Blues: "Blue notes" (flatted 3rds, 5ths, and 7ths) are used constantly; Blues harmonies, rhythms, and melodic idioms pervade the work; and many "shades of blue" are depicted, from bright blue, to dark, to dirty, to hot blue.
    At times, Blue Shades burlesques some of the clichés from the Big Band era, not as a mockery of those conventions, but as a tribute. A slow and quiet middle section recalls the atmosphere of a dark, smoky blues haunt. An extended clarinet solo played near the end recalls Benny Godmanís hot playing style, and ushers in a series of "wailing" brass chords recalling the train whistle effects commonly used during that era.

The Funeral Music is composed to the funeral of a close friend of Jacob Gade. The work is originally composed for a small wind ensemble, but for this world premiere recording Mogens Andresen has made the arrangement for concert Band.
 

The Composers

Vasily Brandt (1869-1923) was born in Coburg in Bavaria and began his musical studies at the school for orchestral musicians run by Zimmermann, the court conductor. In 1887, he was appointed first solo trompeter of the Helsinki Philharmonia Symphony Orchestra and a few years later solo trumpeter at the Bolshoi Theatre. In 1899 he was appointed professor of trumpet at the Moscow Conservatoire, and in 1908, he succeded in opening a military band orchestration class.
    Brandt composed a great deal at that time, among other things two world-famous concertos for trumpet and piano, three brass quartets and many different arrangements and original compositions for wind band. In 1912, he was appointed professor of trumpet and horn at the Saratov Conservatoire, which had just opened. In Saratov, he continued his energetic activities as a performer, and he often played his own concertos as well as Arbanís Carnival of Venice. Brandt impressed all those who heard him by the originality of his tone and by his amazing lip-trills, double and triple tonguing and arpeggios in every key.

Frank Ticheli (b. 1958) received his Bachelor of Music in Composition from Southern Methodist College and the Masters Degrees in Composition and Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Michigan. He is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Southern California, and from 1991 to 1998 the Composer-in-Residence of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra.
    He has composed works for band, wind ensemble, orchestra, chamber ensembles, and the theatre. His music has garnered many prestigious awards including the Goddard Lieberson fellowship, Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy and Institute of arts and letters, the 1989 Walter Beeler memorial Composition Prize, the Ross Lee Finney Award; and first prize in the 11th annual Symposium for New Band Music in Virginia. The New York Times has described his music as lean and muscular and above all, active, in motion.

Mogens Andresen (b. 1945) played the bass trombone in the Royal Danish Orchestra 1974-88 and in 1988, he was appointed professor of brass music at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. He is one af the founders of Royal Danish Brass, and with this ensemble he has made many recordings and toured in Europe and the US.
    He is very often used as a teacher e.g. World Youth Symphony Orchestra and Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchester. Furthermore, he is a composer and has written and arranged music for brass ensembles. He has also written music primers and books about brass instruments in the 19th and 20th century.

Martin Åkerwall (b. 1965) made his debut as composer and pianist on Danish Radio when he was 16 years-old with his first composition Krystal for piano. He has been studying percussion, piano and composition at the Royal Danish Acadmy of Music and an extensive conductor training at the Sibelius-Academy, Finland, resulted in 1991 in his receiving of the Diploma of the Sibelius-Academy with first class with destinction and the Jacob Gade Prize as well as the Noilly Prat great music prize.
    After his debut as conductor with the Tivoli Symphony Orchestra in 1991, he has performed as pianist and conductor in Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Germany and been closely bound up with Halberstadt Theater in Germany and Bern Stadttheater in Switzerland as an opera conductor.
    Martin Åkerwall has composed several works for wind bands. In 1996, he wrote his first composition, Ergesia. At the latest, Martin Åkerwall has performed his own concerto for piano and wind band, Arlequin, at a number of concerts in Denmark and France.

Jacob Gade (1879-1963), violinist, conductor and composer. He was conductor at the Dagmar Theater 1914-1919 and later on he was violinist at the National Symphony Orchestra in New York. In 1921, he was appointed conductor at the Palads Theater, and was very productive in composing.  His most famous work is Tango Jalousie (1925), and this music made him world-famous. At least once every minute this music is played somwhere in the world, and from the large profits from this work he founded a foundation for young talented Danish musicians.

Atso Almila (b. 1953) studied trombone and orchestral conducting with professor Jorma Panula in the Sibelius-Academy of Helsinki. He has been conductor of some outstanding Finnish choirs, orchestra leader of the National Theatre of Finland, and principal conductor of the Tampere Philharmonic. Now he teaches orchestral conducting at the Sibelius-Academy, he is principal conductor of the Joensuu Orchestra and artistic leader of the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra.
    Almila has been conducting mainly in Finland, Sweden, and Estonia. He has conducted several opera productions in the Finnish National Opera and all over Finland. He has toured Japan with his Kuopio orchestra, and Great Britain and Scandinavia with the Sibelius-Academy Symphony. He has composed two operas, a symphony for brassquintet and orchestra, many concertos, chamber music for brass and other ensembles and music for theatre and movies.

Darren W. Jenkins (1967) holds a Bachelor of Music degree with an emphasis in Music Education from Washburn University. He has spent three years as Director of Instrumental Music and Vocal Music for the Troy School District in Troy, Kansas. He is currently working towards a Master of Music Degree in Composition at The University of Kansas, and he has composed and arranged music for symphonic band, jazz band, choir and solo instruments a.o. His compositions have been performed by various groups across the country, as well as internationally.
 

The soloists

Jeanette Balland (b. 1968) has been studiyng with Aage Voss where she began her musical carreer in 1985 and where she still gets her inspiration. In 1995, she graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen and Virtuosité from Conservatoire de Lausanne in Switzerland. After studies with Christer Johnsson, Stockholm and Arne Bornkamp, Amsterdam, she made her debut in 1998 as a soloist at the Royal Danish Academy of Music.
    As chamber musician, Jeanette Balland has first of all drawn the attention to herself in DuoDenum, which she established together with the percussionist Christian Utke in 1992. The duo exclusively plays modern original music for saxophone and percussion. Besides Danish first performances of several foreign compositions ordered and performed for the first time they also play new compositions of a number of Danish composers. In 1994 the duo received the Rødovre Music Prize and in 1996, the duo won the 2nd prize at the Danish Radio Chamber Music Competition and later the same year 3rd prize at the Nordic Chamber Music Competition.

Ketil Christensen (b. 1952) was trained at The Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen, studied with Ole Andersen and Kurt Pedersen followed by studies in London, Paris and New York. He was appointed Solo Trumpeter of the Royal Danish Orchestra and Collegium Musicum, Copenhagen.
    Ketil Christensen won the Jacob Gade Prize and the  Gladsaxe Prize, besides being a prize-winner at the international competition in Munich in 1980. Ketil Christensen has made several records, both as a soloist and as part of the Royal Danish Brass ensemble, of which he is one of the founder members.
    Ketil Christensen has also been teaching at the Royal Danish Academy of Music.