American Hymnsong Suite
1. Prelude on Wondrous Love - 3:05
2. Ballad on Balm in Gilead - 2:25
3. Nettleton (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing) - 1:45
4. March on Wilson (When We All Get to Heaven) - 2:00
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Alto Saxophone I-II
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Bb Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Euphonium (Bass Clef & Treble Clef)
Percussion I-II, including:
- Bass Drum
- Crash Cymbals
- Snare Drum
- Suspended Cymbal
None discovered thus far.
American Hymnsong Suite is firmly rooted in my family history as church musicians. I grew up singing and playing many different hymns, including the four tunes featured in this work. The final impetus to compose this particular treatment came during the course of an organ concert in Atlanta, Georgia. One section of the program featured innovative settings of three hymns. With the gracious consent of composers Joe Utterback and Brooks Kukendall, I adapted their settings to act as the inner movements of the suite, bracketed with my own original treatments of favorite hymns.
The Prelude on Wondrous Love (“What Wondrous Love is This”) opens with a chant-like statement of this Southern tune before proceeding to a more kinetic retelling. Ballad on “Balm in Gilead” features a rich jazz harmonization of this familiar spiritual. The Scherzo on “Nettleton” (“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”) contains all the rhythmic playfulness inherent in the best orchestral third movements, and the March on “Wilson” (“When We All Get to Heaven”) calls to mind the wildest marching band ever heard.
While audience members will certainly make various connections to this piece, the ongoing goal is to introduce all listeners to the richness of our American musical heritage.
- Program Note by composer
There is a Balm in Gilead is a well-known traditional Black-American spiritual. The “Balm in Gilead” is a reference from the Old Testament, but the lyrics of this spiritual refer to the New Testament concept of salvation through Jesus Christ. The balm in Gilead is interpreted as a spiritual medicine that is able to heal Israel (and sinners in general). The first appearance of the spiritual in something close to its current form is uncertain. A version of the refrain can be found in Washington Glass’s 1854 hymn The Sinner’s Cure. Glass attributed this hymn to himself, but like several of the hymns so attributed, it is substantially the work of another.
- Program Note by the Boise State University Symphonic Winds concert program, 5 March 2015
- Georgia: VI
- Iowa: IV
- Indiana: ISSMA SENIOR BAND GROUP I
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) Concert Band (Heath Nails, conductor) – 26 March 2019
- Cobb Wind Symphony (Marietta, Ga.) (Alfred L. Watkins, conductor) – 10 March 2019
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Indiana, Penn.) Symphony Band (Jason Worzbyt, conductor) – 2 March 2019
- California State University, San Bernardino, Symphony Band (Nicholas Bratcher, conductor) – 7 November 2018
- University of Florida (Gainesville) Tuesday/Thursday Night Band - 18 April 2018
- Century High School (Rochester, Minn.) Wind Ensemble (Amnda Kaus, conductor) – 2 March 2018
- California State University, Northridge, Wind Ensemble (Claudio Alcàntar, conductor) – 5 December 2017
- University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Symphonic Band (Bradley J. Esau, conductor) – 15 November 2017
- Henderson State University (Arkadelphia, Ark.) Symphony Band (Steven M. Knight, conductor) – 12 March 2017
- University of North Texas (Denton) Symphony Band (Dennis W. Fisher, conductor) - 20 October 2016
- University of North Texas (Denton) University Band (Kelly Desjardins, conductor) – 13 April 2016
- Metropolitan Wind Symphony (Boston, Mass.) (Chris Wilhjelm, conductor) – 1 November 2015
- Boise (Id.) State University Symphonic Winds (Christian Wilhjelm, conductor) - 5 March 2015 (80th Annual ABA National Convention)
- Albany State University Symphonic Band - 2013
Works for Winds by this Composer
- American Hymnsong Suite (2007)
- Emerald Suite (2008)
- Fantasy on American Folk Songs (2009/2016)
- Meditation (2010)
- Moonlight Memories
- Songs in the Key of Stevie (as arranger)
- Steadfast Leadership (2009)
- Variations on "St. Patrick's Breastplate" (2005)
- Milburn, D. (2007). American Hymnsong Suite [score]. Neil A. Kjos Music: San Diego, Calif.
- Zembower, Christian "American Hymnsong Suite." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 6, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 435-447. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2007.