The Band Post speaks to David Maslanka in a short interview on his first trip to Asia, his thoughts about the Taiwan Band Clinic, and his new music over the last few years.
This interview is part of the coverage for the 9th Taiwan Band Clinic (2016).
Is this your first time to Taiwan? What are your feelings about the clinic?
This was my first time in Taiwan. The clinic is an excellent and very brave idea. I say brave because it takes a lot of courage and effort to begin something of this sort in a place where it doesn’t exist. The clinic is a very important effort at trying to improve the quality of wind band playing throughout Asia.
As an adjudicator in the competition, what were you most impressed about? How do you feel about the overall standard of the bands?
I was most impressed that the bands had worked so hard on their performances, and that their directors had actually chosen to come to the clinic. These are the people who actively wish to make their band programs better. I was part of the judging panel for seven bands from Taiwan. Most need continuing work in band basics. Much can be done with warmup exercises, and more attention should be paid to the selection of music. There is now a very large body of good wind band music at all levels.
What was it like to be working with the OSU Wind Ensemble on the interpretation of your work ‘St Francis’?
The Oregon State University Wind Ensemble is a very fine band. Their conductor, Christopher Chapman, is one of the best. Their preparation of “St. Francis” was at a very high level, and it was a great pleasure for me to travel to Oregon to work with them. Our work was to take a very fine performance and move it up to a place of true power.
In a previous interview with your son Matthew, he mentioned that your music has an image of being very difficult, how would you respond to that?
Matthew is correct. There is a general view that my music is too difficult for most bands, and indeed, pieces such as the symphonies are very demanding. On the other hand, I have also written a large number of pieces for high school ensembles. There are descriptions of these pieces on my website, and conductors can also see scores and hear recordings.
It is important that conductors actively search for new music. It is also very important that they select music that they love. If the conductor loves a piece then the band will feel this enthusiasm, and automatically play much better. One example of this is my piece, “Give Us This Day – Short Symphony for Wind Ensemble.” It is a high-demand piece, yet bands love it, and want very much to play it. It has been performed hundreds of times all over the world by bands at many different levels. It should also be noted that many high school ensembles are now advancing to perform pieces such as “Traveler,” Symphonies 2, 4, 8 and even No.9.
Would you like to talk about some new works that you have written in the last 5 years?
I have written many wind pieces in the past five years: Symphony No.9, Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Wind Ensemble, “Remember Me” for solo cello and nineteen players, “Requiem,” “On This Bright Morning,” “Hymn for World Peace,” Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble, “St. Francis – Two Studies for Wind Ensemble,” “Angel of Mercy,” and “California.”
From this collection the pieces for younger bands are “On This Bright Morning,” “Hymn for World Peace,” and “California.” “Requiem” was not written for younger band but can be included here as well.
Scores and recordings for all of the above pieces can be found on my website and I hope that conductors will seek them out. At this point in my life I feel a powerful dedication to bringing music to young people.
Band Fusion originally conducted an interview with David Maslanka in 2010.
A contributing editor at TBP.