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Polka Nation

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Evan Chambers

Evan Chambers

General Info

Year: 1996
Duration: c. 11:30
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Evan Chambers
Cost: Score & Parts - $180.00 (Rental)  |   Score Only - $52.50


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
Trumpet (in B-flat) I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Euphonium I-II
Tuba I-II
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV

  • Anvil
  • Bass Drum, large and small
  • Chimes
  • Cowbells (3)
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Flexatone
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gong, large and small
  • Hi-Hat
  • Kick Bass Drum
  • Lion's Roar
  • Pang Cymbal
  • Ratchet
  • Roto-toms, large
  • Siren Whistle
  • Snare Drum, large
  • Suspended Cymbal, large and small
  • Temple Blocks
  • Tom-Toms, large and small (4)
  • Triangle
  • Vibra-slap
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

A BRIEF SPOKEN PROGRAM NOTE ON POLKA NATION: (suggested if any verbal program notes are given)

I suppose the first question I should answer is: "Why Polka?" Polka music has a reputation for being bland and hokey -- needless to say, I don't hold with that. To me polka is filled with the same intensity, frustration, sadness, as well as silliness and joy that fills the lives of the people who make and love the music. So this piece is a walk on the wilder, darker side of polka.

If you've ever danced the polka, you know that you can't really understand it by listening or watching alone. And since I can't take all of you along to a polka party, I wanted to try to paint a picture of the whole scene: to write not just the music of the polka, but to capture the dancers and revelers as well.

At a real polka party, as in this piece, there's a lot of rowdiness, a lot of unmitigated happiness; things can and do get out of hand -- sometimes there's so much much energy flying around that the only possible response is to shout out loud.

Polka Nation--printed program notes

In March of 1844, the polka craze hit Paris. There were reports of uncontrollable crowds dancing wildly in the streets across the city and throughout the night. 100 years later, in the U.S., polka became our national obsession, a post-war emblem of pan-European ethnic identity and a sign of the immigrant's new place in American society. Polka kings were pop stars of stage and screen.

After that heyday, however, polka took on a pariah status, associated with ethnic slurs and provincial hokeyness, but the music went on, supported by dedicated fans in pockets across the country. Today polka is one of our most diverse regional inter-ethnic musics, from the Virgin Islands to Milwaukee, whether you're twirling in Texas, stepping in Chicago, bobbing in Buffalo, hopping in Hamtramck, or reeling in Cleveland, whether you're Polish, Slovenian, German, Italian, Irish, Czech, Tex-Mex, or anything else, there is a polka style for you.

Polka Nation is a celebration of the centrifugal force that powers the polka, the explosive balance of tension and abandon that makes it ignite, burn and cook: that literally entrancing counterpoint of bouncing, whirling, and spinning that lives in the charged space surrounding the music and the dance. The composition was most directly inspired by the music of Brave Combo, a Denton, Texas, band that has, for years, lovingly captured and laid bare the raw nerve behind polka music's energy. This piece aspires to do the same thing; it's not so much a polka itself, but rather an attempt to evoke the essential wildness of being inside one. Sometimes crazed and maniacal, sometimes dark and edgy, sometimes bursting with slapstick silliness, this piece, like the crowd at a polka party, often gets carried away. It sometimes spins out of control, becomes rowdy or sad, or collapses in exhaustion. But then, there's always another band after the break, ready to make their stab at sending the room hurtling towards a point somewhere between ecstatic lift-off and total chaos.

This piece was written for H Robert Reynolds and the Michigan Bands in celebration of their 100th anniversary year.

- Program Note by Evan Chambers

Commercial Discography


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 8 April 2016

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Chambers, E.; MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music [1996]. Polka Nation: For Symphony Band or Wind Ensemble [computer printout score]. [s.n.]:[s.l.].
  • Evan Chambers, personal correspondence, May 2020
  • Evan Chambers Website