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Tribute

for brass ensemble and percussion (2014)

Tribute was written for the 75th birthday celebration of John E. Wakefield.  John was the longest serving director in the history of Maryland Bands, leading the program for nearly forty years.  He retired in 2005 and currently holds the title of Director of Bands Emeritus.  He is also the music director at University United Methodist Church where I have had the privilege of playing under him several times over the years.  Before coming to Maryland John attended the University of Michigan where, by all accounts, he distinguished himself as a stellar euphonium player.  One of his sons, Mark Wakefield, has been a good friend of mine for the past 10 years so when he contacted me about writing a piece to commemorate his father I was excited for the opportunity to honor such a great musical force.  

 

The piece begins with a flourish then transitions into a hymn-like melody, drawing inspiration from John’s work as a church music director.  The music builds from there until it climaxes in a stately declaration of “Hail to the victors” in the trombones (a tip of the hat to John’s alma mater).  This is followed immediately by a lyrical euphonium solo that draws some melodic inspiration from “Hail”.  A short 4th trumpet solo follows which, during the premiere, was performed by John’s grandson and a former student of mine, Will Yeager.  The music builds back into the original tempo with the percussion driving it all home.  All of the melodic elements return as the piece comes to a finale.  When the whole ensemble lands on the last long chord of the piece, the horns can be heard roaring “Hail, Alma Mater”, a quote from the UMD alma mater. 

 

 

I’d like to extend a big thanks to the entire Wakefield family for commissioning this piece and for their friendship over the years.

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