American Big Top

From Wind Repertory Project
Brian Balmages

Brian Balmages

General Info

Year: 2018
Duration: c. 2:50
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: FJH Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $70.00 | Score Only - $7.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra Alto Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Triangle
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

American Big Top can best be described as an American circus march that meets Charles Ives. Largely based on original material, the piece weaves in small anecdotal references to The Stars and Stripes Forever, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, The Yankee Doodle Boy, Yankee Doodle, The Star-Spangled Banner, and The Entertainer. The entire piece is based on the layering of melodies, harmonies, textures, and rhythms. As the piece develops, the layering becomes more and more complex, yet always with a splash of fun and humor. It is a highly energetic work that constantly throws a curve ball (no pun intended — well, maybe just a little) at the listener with just enough Americana thrown in to give it a homegrown feel without necessarily being categorized as a full-on patriotic work.

The piece was commissioned by the Arte Henry Middle School Honors Band (Cedar Park, Texas; Robert Herrings, conductor) on the occasion of their selection as the TMEA CCC Honor Band. Given that this was their third time being selected as honor band, the piece playfully uses the theme of “three” throughout, beginning immediately with groups of three that move through three different time signatures (including 3/8). In addition, The Stars and Stripes Forever reference only involves the trio section and the only part of Take Me Out to the Ballgame is “One! Two! Three strikes you’re out!” (Of course, we then hear the sound of a ball being hit!)

- Program Note from The Woodlands Concert Band concert program, 20 December 2018


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne) Concert Band (Joseph Montelione, conductor) - 6 November 2023
  • Angelo State University (San Angelo, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Jonathan Alvis, conductor) - 30 April 2023
  • Keokuk (Iowa) High School Symphonic Band (Jesse Deese, conductor) - 10 May 2022
  • Keller (Tx.) Middle School Band (David Puckett, conductor) – 11 February 2022 (2022 TMEA Conference, San Antonio)
  • Ball State University (Muncie, Ind.) Campus Band (Madison Argo, conductor) - 20 April 2021
  • Riverside High School (Painesville, Ohio) Wind Ensemble (David A. Schwartz, conductor) - 14 May 2019
  • Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.) Preparatory Wind Orchestra (Harland D. Parker, conductor) – 11 May 2019
  • Cameron (Mo.) High School Symphonic Band (Blake Duren, conductor) – 28 April 2019
  • Southern Mississippi University (Hattiesburg) Concert Band (James Standland, conductor) – 26 February 2019
  • The Ohio State University (Columbus) Honors Gray Symphonic Band (Christopher Hoch, conductor) – 20 January 2019
  • The Woodlands (Tex.) Concert Band (Bill Stutsman, conductor) - 20 December 2018 (2018 Midwest Clinic)
  • Henry (Tx.) Middle School Band (Robert Herrings, conductor) - 16 February 2018 (2018 TMEA Conference, San Antonio) Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works