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Dithyrambos for Wind Orchestra

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Chang-Su Koh

Chang Su Koh


General Info

Year: 2006
Duration: c. 8:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Bravo Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $300.00 Rental


Instrumentation

Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II-III
Oboe
Bassoon
Eb Clarinet
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Eb Alto Clarinet
Bb Bass Clarinet
Bb Soprano Saxophone
Eb Alto Saxophone I-II
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Bb Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV
Bass Trombone
Euphonium (Bass Clef & Treble Clef)
Tuba
String Bass
Piano
Timpani
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Snare Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Castanets
  • Glockenspiel
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tambourine
  • Temple Blocks
  • Tenor Drum
  • Tom-Tom
  • Triangle
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

They also tell of certain destructions and disappearances and diseases and new births, which are riddles and fables pertaining to the aforesaid transformations: and they sing the dithyrambic song, filled with sufferings, and allusions to some change of state that brought with it wandering about and dispersion. For Aeschylus says: It is fitting the dithyramb, with its confused roar, should accompany Dionysus [...] ascribing to him a mingled playfulness and mischief, gravity and madness.

– Plutarch, Moralia, Book V, Chapter 2

The dithyramb, as referenced here by the first-century historian Plutarch, comes from ancient Grecian culture as a religious hymn. In this, even an attempt at an accurate recreation of the classical technique might seem far removed from the expectation of a modern Western audience, for this type of “hymn” is not one of a somber nature, but is rather a wild celebration of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, fertility ecstasy, and madness. Though modern culture has long since strayed from belief in the ancient Greek and Roman gods, the celebration of Dionysus’ harvest is a theme that has held on to some extent within the realm of art music, the spirit of which is mimicked in the bacchanales of Saint-Saëns (in his opera Samson and Delilah) and Wagner (in Tannhaüser) and recreated in Florent Schmitt’s masterwork for wind band, Dionysiaques. This latter example, in particular, carries sharp similarity to the aesthetic of Chang Su Koh’s Dithyrambos.

It should be no surprise that Koh’s music thrills at the incorporation of a wide variety of cultures. The composer, who has Korean lineage, was trained from an early age in Japan before pursuing advanced composition studies in Switzerland at the Musik Akademie Basel. The overall sound of Dithyrambos, though sometimes leaning toward exotically modal, is thoroughly Western and, in similar fashion, the arching structure is basically ternary with external sections that are riotous with feral intent contrasting a central development that is slower and more seductive in nature. Throughout, the piece is an explosive showcase of fierce virtuosity, predominated by frenetic accelerating rhythms and syncopations. Many of the distinctive motives from the opening (particularly those given to the brass) sound more like howling wails, perhaps reminiscent of the maenadic fury of Bacchus’ intoxicated followers. The central segment of the piece is greatly reliant on the woodwinds, with long and aching melodies presented first by saxophones, and then by a soli grouping of flutes, oboes, and clarinets. These melodies, which begin from a position of calm, wring themselves inevitably into a sustained furor that falls helplessly back into the obliterating rhythms of the work’s first few measures. Presenting further challenge, the rhythmic figures of the final tripartite section are notated within triple-based subdivision as opposed to the duple-based figures from the opening. A brief codetta recalls the sinuous modal melodies before a final shriek closes the work with reckless abandon.

- Program Note from University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wind Ensemble concert program, 17 February 2017


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


Audio Links


State Ratings

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Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer


References

None discovered thus far.