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La Fiesta Mexicana

From Wind Repertory Project
H. Owen Reed

H Owen Reed

Subtitle: A Mexican Folk Song Symphony for Concert Band

General Info

Year: 1949 / 1954
Duration: 21:15
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Alfred Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $100.00; (digital) - $100.00   |   Score Only (print) - $15.00


1. Prelude and Aztec Dance - 8:50
2. Mass - 5:40
3. Carnival - 6:45


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
Contrabassoon (optional)
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Eb Alto Clarinet
Bb Bass Clarinet
Bb Contrabass Clarinet (optional)
Alto Saxophone I-II
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Bass Saxophone (optional)
Cornet (in Bb) I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium I-II
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Castanets
  • Cymbals
  • Maracas
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Temple Blocks (4)
  • Tom-Toms
  • Tubular Bells

Off-Stage Band

Bb Soprano Clarinet
Cornet (in Bb) I-II
Horn in F
Snare Drum
Bass Drum (with cymbal attached)


C Piccolo, mvt. 1, reh. 4 + 7 meas., beat 2: add duration dot to half note
1st E-flat Alto Saxophone, mvt. 2, meas. 6, beat 1: F sharp s/r E natural
E-flat Baritone Saxophone, mvt. 1, reh. 9 + 12 meas.: Add rehearsal 10 (the beginning of the repeated passage)
1st F Horn, mvt. 1, reh. 7: add 3/4 meter signature
Baritone TC: Third movement: 14th bar after 28, should be C natural; Baritone BC should be Bb. Score is correct.

Program Notes

La Fiesta Mexicana is an admirable work that receives frequent performances from high school and collegiate bands. This programmatic piece evokes a variety of styles, depicting fireworks, a parade, a mass (with cantor), a circus, a bullfight, and a mariachi performance. In addition to the full band parts, an off-stage ensemble is enlisted in the score. This entertaining piece works particularly well when the ensemble has plenty of rhythmically proficient musicians. Occasionally, bands abbreviate the performance time by performing selected movements rather than the entire work.

- Notes from Great Music for Wind Band

In 1948, H. Owen Reed spent six months in Mexico while on a Guggenheim Fellowship, during which time he studied folk music and composed. La Fiesta Mexicana - A Mexican Folk Song Symphony for Concert Band was a result of his time in the country and reflects his observations of the culture. The composer provides these comments:

Prelude and Aztec Dance — The tolling of the church bells at midnight officially announces the opening of the Fiesta, which has previously been unofficially announced by the setting off of fireworks, the drinking of tequila and pulque, and the migration of thousands of Mexicans and Indians to the center of activity — the high court surrounding the cathedral. After a brave effort at gaiety, the celebrators settle down to a restless night, until the early quiet of the Mexican morning is once more shattered by the church bells and fireworks. At mid-morning a band is heard in the distance. However, attention is soon focused upon the Aztec dancers, brilliantly plumed and masked, who dance in ever-increasing frenzy to a dramatic climax.

The second movement, Mass, presents the tolling of the bells, reminding that the Fiesta is a religious celebration. The rich and poor slowly gather within the walls of the old cathedral for contemplation and worship. Mexico is at its best on the days of the Fiesta in which passion governs the love, hate and joy of the Mestizo and the Indio. The third movement, Carnival, reflects the entertainment for both young and old — the itinerant circus, the market, the bullfight, the town band, and always the cantinas with their band of mariachis.

La Fiesta Mexicana received its premiere performance in 1949 by the U. S. Marine Band conducted by Lt. Col. William F. Santelmann. H. Owen Reed passed away in January of 2014 after a lifelong career dedicated to music and teaching.

- Program Note from The Crane School of Music

The authentic folk tunes Reed used can be found in Chapala, Jalisco, and Guadalajara; other themes were borrowed from Gregorian motifs and Aztec dances.


Commercial Discography

Audio Links

State Ratings

  • Florida: VI
  • Maryland: VI (Movements 1 and 2, or 2 and 3)
  • New York: VI (Movements I & II or II & III)
  • Virginia: VI (a full performance of all movements counts as two works)
  • North Carolina: VI (May omit one Movement), Full performance counts as two grade VI works


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Glenn Hayes, conductor) – 5 May 2019
  • Western Illinois University (Macomb) Wind Ensemble (Andrey Cruz, conductor) – 4 May 2019
  • Texas Woman's University (Denton) Wind Symphony (Carter Biggers, conductor) – 30 April 2019
  • State University of New York, Fredonia, All College Band (Carrie Pawelski, conductor) – 17 April 2019
  • University of Nebraska (Lincoln) Symphonic Band (Anthony Falcone, conductor) – 17 April 2019
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Concert Band (Courtney Snyder, conductor) – 15 April 2019
  • University of British Columbia (Vancouver) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Robert Taylor, conductor) – 29 March 2019
  • Fresno (Calif.) City College Wind Ensemble (Elisha K Wilson, conductor) - 17 March 2019 (2019 Sutherland Wind Festival (Fresno, Calif.)
  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City) Wind Ensemble (Scott Hagen) – 5 March 2019
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Symphonic Band (John Watkins Jr., conductor) – 28 February 2019
  • Concordia College (Moorhead, Minn.) Symphonic Band (Nathaniel H. Dickey, conductor) – 19 February 2019
  • Yale University (New Haven, Conn.) Concert Band (Thomas Duffy, conductor) – 15 February 2019
  • Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.) Peabody Wind Ensemble (Harland D. Parker, conductor) – 26 January 2019
  • Centennial High School Wind Ensemble (Ellicott City, Md.) (David Matchim, conductor) - 20 December 2018 (2018 Midwest Clinic)
  • Texas A&M University (Lubbock) Wind Symphony (Timothy Rhea, conductor) – 18 November 2018
  • Charles River Wind Ensemble (Boston, Mass.) (Matthew M. Marsit, conductor) – 18 November 2018
  • High School Symphonic Band [Interlochen, Mich.] (Frederick Fennell, conductor) - 3 August 1980
  • Eastman Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Frederick Fennell, conductor) – 17 December 1954

Works for Winds by this Composer