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La Fiesta Mexicana

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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)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet (optional)
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone (optional)
B-flat Cornet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium I-II
String Bass
Timpani (optional Teponaztli)
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum (with cymbal attached)
  • Castanets
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Maracas
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Temple Blocks (4)
  • Tom-Toms (2)
  • Tubular Bells

Off-Stage Band

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


In Parts:

  • C Piccolo, mvt. 1, reh. 4 + 7 meas., beat 2: Add duration dot to half note.
  • Flute I, mvt. 1, reh. 4 + 18 meas., beat 4: Add an accent on the B natural (the first note of the triplet).
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone I, mvt. 2, m.6, beat 1: F sharp should read E natural.
  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone, mvt. 1, reh. 9 + 12 meas.: Add rehearsal 10 (the beginning of the repeated passage).
  • Horn in F I, mvt. 1, reh. 7: Add 3/4 meter signature.
  • Baritone TC, mvt. 3, reh. 28 + 14 meas.: Should be C natural; Baritone BC should be B-flat. Score is correct.
  • Timpani, mvt. 1, reh. 10 + 13 meas.: There is an errant double bar line even though this is not the end of the movement.

In Score:

  • Timpani: mvt. 3: reh. 31 + 7 meas.: The first note of the measure should be a dotted 8th rather than a dotted 16th.

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.

- Program Note 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 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.

- 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.



State Ratings

  • Arkansas: VI
  • Florida: VI
  • Maryland: VI (Movements 1 and 2, or 2 and 3)
  • New York: VI (Movements I & II or II & III)
  • North Carolina:
    • VI: may omit one movement
    • Masterworks: play all
  • Virginia: VI (a full performance of all movements counts as two works)
  • Texas: IV. Complete (Movement 1 or 3)


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Nazareth College (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Symphony (Jared Chase, conductor) - 28 April 2023
  • University of Nebraska (Lincoln) Wind Ensemble (Carolyn Barber, conductor) - 6 April 2023
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Ensemble (Daniel Cook, conductor) – 22 February 2023
  • Chicago Wind Symphony (Chicago, Ill.) (Michael McCain, conductor) - 20 August 2022
  • Los Angeles Symphonic Winds (Woodland Hills, Calif.) (Stephen Piazza, conductor) – 7 May 2022 (ACB 2022 Annual Convention (Santa Fe, New Mexico))
  • DePaul University (Chicago, Ill.) Wind Symphony (Eric Neidlinger, conductor) - 9 March 2022
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Wind Symphony (David Waybright, conductor) – 7 December 2021
  • OBA North Shore Wind Symphony (Sydney, Aus.) Barker Wind Symphony - 30 April 2021
  • Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction) Wind Symphony (Calvin Hofer, conductor) - 27 April 2021
  • Heart of Texas Concert Band (San Antonio) (R. Mark Rogers, conductor) - 25 April 2021
  • Vista Ridge High School (Cedar Park, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Bryan Christian, conductor) – 14 April 2021
  • McLennan Community College (Waco, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Jon Conrad, conductor) – 8 October 2020
  • Colorado State University (Fort Collins) Symphonic Band (T. André Fagin, conductor) - 5 May 2020 (planned but cancelled)
  • Elmhurst (Ill.) College Symphonic Band (John Heath, conductor) – 15 March 2020
  • Royal Oak (Mich.) Concert Band (Kevin R. Czarnik, conductor) - 8 March 2020
  • Arkansas Tech University (Russellville) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Daniel A. Belongia, conductor) – 8 March 2020
  • High School Symphonic Band [Interlochen, Mich.] (Frederick Fennell, conductor) – 3 August 1980
  • Eastman Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Frederick Fennell, conductor) – 17 December 1954
  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C. (William F. Santelmann, conductor) - 1949 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association. (2013). "AR Required Music List by Grade (12-5-13)". Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association. pp. 34.
  • Knight, J. "An Interpretive Analysis of 'La Fiesta Mexicana'." The Instrumentalist, 53, no. 2 (September 2008), pp. 32ff.
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 659-667.
  • Nicholson, Chad. (2009). ‘’Great Music for Wind Band: A Guide to the Top 100 Works in Grades IV, V, VI.’’ Galesville, MD: Meredith Music Publications. pp 87-88.
  • Perusal score
  • Rudgers, Gregory B. La Fiesta Mexicana. MBM Times, Issue 6 (2012), 66.