Old Churches

From Wind Repertory Project
Michael Colgrass

Michael Colgrass

General Info

Year: 2002
Duration: c. 5:00
Difficulty: II (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: American Composers Forum through Hal Leonard Music
Cost: Score & Parts - $50.00   |   Score Only - $5.00


Full Score
Flute I-II-III
Bassoon (optional)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion, including:

  • Bells I-II
  • Bowls I-II


In Parts:

  • Flute I, m.24: add tenuto marking to beat one
  • Flute II-III, m.49: add "mp" to entrances
  • Flute II-III, m.53: add "cut off one by one."
  • Oboe, m.24: add tenuto marking to beat one.
  • Bassoon, m.11: add diminuendo marking
  • Bassoon, m.18: add tenuto markings to eighth notes on beat four
  • Bassoon, m.19: add tenuto marking to beat one
  • Bassoon, m.27: add "mf" to the entrance.
  • B-flat Soprano Clarinet I, m.29: remove tie over the bar line into m.30
  • B-flat Bass Clarinet, m.19: add tenuto marking to beat one
  • B-flat Bass Clarinet, m.27: add "mf" to the entrance.
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone, m.11: add diminuendo marking
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone, m.19: add tenuto marking to beat one
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone, m.27: add "mf" to the entrance
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone, m.40: add "f" to the entrance
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone, m.52: add "as long as possible on fade"
  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone, m.19: add tenuto markings to "and" of beat four through beat two of m.20
  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone, m.20: extend slur from beat three to beat one of m.22
  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone, m.27: add slur from beat four to beat one of m.29
  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone, m.52: add "as long as possible on fade"
  • Trumpet III, m.24: add tenuto marking through beat two m.25
  • Trombones I-II-III, m.11: add diminuendo marking
  • Baritone B.C., m.40: change first beat to B natural (M2 higher)
  • Baritone T.C., m.40: change first beat to C sharp
  • Tuba, m.52: add "p" to half note entrance
  • Bells, m.49: add "mp" to entrances
  • Bells, m.53: add "mp" to entrance.
  • Bowls, m.53: add "mp" to entrance.

Program Notes

According to composer Michael Colgrass, Old Churches is one of the most challenging pieces he can remember writing. His goal was to create music that was interesting, expressive and challenging, yet playable by students in the early stages of performing on their instruments and who are also unfamiliar with modern music techniques.

His solution was to write a work based on Gregorian vocal chant with unison melodies. Playing in unison helps student musicians feel more confident, and allowed Colgrass to copiously double the melodic lines. The tempo is slow; the phrases are all in quarter and eighth notes, and the harmonies are simple. Some easy graphic notation and chance techniques are employed, such as pitches played without rhythm, and a murmuring effect that simulates the idea of voices echoing in monastic churches. Colgrass hopes that Old Churches is a piece that conveys emotion at the same time it makes young bands sound good.

Old Churches uses Gregorian chant to create a slightly mysterious monastery scene filled with the prayers and chanting of monks in an old church. Gregorian chant is ancient church music and that has been in existence for over 1500 years. The chant unfolds through call and response patterns. One monk intones a musical idea, then the rest of the monks respond by singing back. This musical conversation continues throughout the piece, with the exception of a few brief interruptions. Perhaps they are the quiet comments church visitors make to one another.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

  • Texas: II. Complete
  • MusicFest Canada: B300


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Luther College (Decorah, Iowa) Symphonic Band (Cory Near, conductor) - 11 April 2023
  • Old Dominion University (Norfolk, Va.) Wind Ensemble (Tyler Austin, conductor) - 23 February 2023
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) North Star Campus Band (Lauren Visel, conductor) -- 20 October 2022
  • University of Dubuque (Iowa) Concert Band (Nolan Hauta, conductor) - 14 October 2022
  • Randolph-Macon College (Ashland, Va.) Ensemble (Brian Coffill, conductor) – 25 February 2022 (CBDNA 2022 Southern Conference, Columbia, S.C.)
  • University of Louisville (KY.) Community Band (Jason Cumberledge, conductor) - 21 February 2022
  • University of Iowa (Iowa City) University Band (Myron Peterson, conductor) - 6 December 2021
  • Wayne (Neb.) State College Symphonic Band (Josh Calkin, conductor) - 20 April 2021
  • Truman State University (Kirksville, Mo.) Concert Band (Curran Prendergast, conductor) – 4 March 2020
  • Dordt University (Sioux Center, Iowa) Campus-Community Band (Onsby Rose, conductor) – 3 March 2020
  • All-Henrico County (Henrico, Va.) High School Band (Brian A. Coffill, conductor) – 23 January 2020
  • University of Kansas (Lawrence) University Band (John Leonard, conductor) – 4 December 2019
  • Kennesaw (Ga.) State University Wind Symphony (Debra Traficante, conductor) – 18 November 2019
  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Symphonic Band (Cliff Croomes, conductor) – 19 November 2019
  • University of Toronto (Ont., Can.) Wind Ensemble (Gillian MacKay, conductor) - 10 October 2019
  • State University of New York, Fredonia, All College Band (Darryl Warren, conductor) – 2 October 2019
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Monday Night Concert Band (Alyssa Arkin, conductor) – 24 April 2019
  • Thiel College (Greenville, Penn.) Concert Band (Brian T. Harris, conductor) - 7 April 2019
  • Peabody Conservatory (Baltimore, Md.) Preparatory Wind Band (Karen Seward, conductor) – 12 May 2018
  • University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) Red Band (Tim Pardue, conductor) – 4 March 2018
  • New England Conservatory (Boston) Senior Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble (Toby Forman, conductor) – 6 March 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer