American Hymnsong Suite
1. Prelude on Wondrous Love - 3:10
2. Ballad on Balm in Gilead - 2:30
3. Nettleton (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing) - 1:45
4. March on Wilson (When We All Get to Heaven) - 1:55
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 I-II-III-IV
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
- Audio: Reference recording. Ensemble and conductor unknown
- Audio CD: Ouachita Baptist University Wind Ensemble (Craig V. Hamilton, conductor) - 2009
- Georgia: VI
- Iowa: IV
- Indiana: ISSMA SENIOR BAND GROUP I
- North Carolina: VI
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- University of Akron (Ohio) Symphony Band (Alfred Watkins, conductor) – 14 February 2022
- Cleveland State University (Ohio) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Birch Browning, conductor) – 14 November 2021
- University of Utah (Salt Lake City) Wind Ensemble (Rebekah Daniel, conductor) - 9 November 2021
- University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) Wind Ensemble (Michael James, conductor) – 6 November 2021
- University of North Florida (Jacksonville) Concert Band (Erin Bodnar, conductor) - 17 November 2020
- West Virginia University (Morgantown) Wind Symphony (Scott Tobias, conductor) - 12 November 2020
- Ouachita Baptist University (Arkadelphia, Ark.) Wind Ensemble (Craig V. Hamilton, conductor) - 27 October 2020
- Ball State University (Muncie, Ind.) Wind Symphony (Caroline Hand, conductor) – 20 March 2020
- John Marshall High School (Rochester, Minn.) Symphonic Winds (Jon Soderberg-Chase, conductor) – 7 March 2020
- Mississippi State University (Starkville) Wind Ensemble (Lawrence Stoffel, conductor) - 4 March 2020 (86th Annual ABA National Convention)
- Messiah College (Mechanicsburg, Penn.) Symphonic Winds (Travis Weller conductor) – 28 February 2020
- Collins High School (Suwanee, Ga.) Wind Symphony (Jeremy Lumpkin, conductor) – 31 January 2020
- University of Rhode Island (Kingston) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Gene Pollart, conductor) – 20 October 2019
- University of Kentucky (Lexington) Symphony Band (John Cody Birdwell, conductor) - 14 October 2019
- University of Illinois (Champaign) Hindsley Symphonic Band (Anthony Messina, conductor) – 13 October 2019
- The Ohio State University (Columbus) Symphonic Band (Scott A. Jones, conductor) – 6 October 2019
- Illinois State University (Normal) Symphonic Winds (Anthony Marinello, III, conductor) – 4 October 2019
- University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) Concert Band (Heath Nails, conductor) – 26 March 2019
- Cobb Wind Symphony (Marietta, Ga.) (Alfred L. Watkins, conductor) – 10 March 2019
Works for Winds by This Composer
- American Hymnsong Suite (2007)
- Cuban Overture (as arranger) (1925/)
- Emerald Suite (2008)
- Fantasy on American Folk Songs (2009/2016)
- Garrison Commander (2008)
- Meditation (2010)
- Moonlight Memories
- Songs in the Key of Stevie (as arranger, with Hernandez)
- Standard of Leadership March (2012)
- Steadfast Leadership (2009)
- Variations on "St. Patrick's Breastplate" (2005)
- The Horizon Leans Forward…, compiled and edited by Erik Kar Jun Leung, GIA Publications, 2021, p. 423-424.
- 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.