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Author Topic: "American Guernica", Adolphus Hailstork  (Read 6388 times)
AltaSilvaPuer
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« on: January 27, 2008, 04:04:20 PM »

I'm not sure exactly where to go with this, but I figure this is the best bet.
Have any of you ever heard of "American Guernica", by Adolphus Hailstork?

Its a piece written for wind ensemble that was written in about 1983.  I just played it with the Georgia All-College Band this past weekend in Savannah, and all I have to say about the piece is "Wow."

The piece was written in remembrance of the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in which 4 young girls died.  While the piece isn't supposed to be a musical recreation of events, there are definitely some parts that evoke the image of the bombing.  What I loved about this piece, though, is the way it reaches out and grabs you.  The music reaches deep in your chest and grabs your heart until you feel as though you are personally connected to the four girls and their families.  Our conductor's face beaded with sweat and his eyes were tense for the whole piece.

The music itself is very uniquely written, and rather confusing at first.  There are some very unorthodox markings in the music, like unmetered gaps measured in seconds, rather than beats.  The piece is also full of aleatoric sections, dictated by the conductor.  All of that, though, is what makes this piece as moving as it is, I think.  Dissonant, screaming brass over aleatoric runs in the woodwinds give way in one place to a piano solo so quiet and touching that my heart shuddered and my skin erupted in goosebumps.

I've heard it said you don't listen to "American Guernica", you experience it, and after playing it, I'm inclined to agree.

If you ever get a chance to see this piece performed live, take it.  Its very rarely performed, from what I understand, and the piece is definitely worth it.  I've yet to find any recordings of it, though, unfortunately.  Just felt the urge to share, after the way that piece grabbed me.

-asp
« Last Edit: January 27, 2008, 04:10:53 PM by AltaSilvaPuer » Logged

"Inspiration may be a form of super-consciousness,
or perhaps of subconsciousness—I wouldn't know.
But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness."
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AltaSilvaPuer
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2008, 09:45:21 PM »

An update, if anyone's interested:

The Georgia Music Educator's Association, who hosted the in-service conference that I played this piece at, have uploaded the form to order the CD recordings of the concert.  It's a recording of a live performance and, being an honour band, we only had a few days to rehearse, but it's a recording, nonetheless.

http://Gmea.org/ -> Band -> Recordings ->  2008 GMEA In Service Conference General Recordings

-Asp
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"Inspiration may be a form of super-consciousness,
or perhaps of subconsciousness—I wouldn't know.
But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness."
- Aaron Copland
Tom Servo
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2008, 10:01:47 AM »

Hey ASP,

thanks for the info and the link .... It's always nice to hear good new wind ensemble music.  I can't wait to check it out!

-jeff
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After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." -Aldous Huxley
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sandybrosto
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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2010, 04:14:41 AM »

Early on, I took a Music Aptitude Exam given by the school system in New York State where I grew up.” “Apparently they thought I had some aptitude for music. If you do, you wind up getting free instrumental lessons. I started out on the violin by the Fourth Grade, and then switched to Piano and Organ, sang in the Choirs, and that was all my early schooling.
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