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Music Commissions

The band's commissions and its CDs are funded primarily by grants and private donations.  We have received funding from several private and corporate foundations and the City of Tacoma and Washington State Arts Commissions, as well as from many generous private contributors.  All of these benefactors are specifically acknowledged in our concert programs and other publicity materials.


For a complete listing

Robert Jager - A Sea of Glass Mingled with Fire


The first of these commissions resulted in the remarkable A Sea of Glass Mingled With Fire, a work by Robert Jager.  Mr. Jager has won a number of awards for his music including being the only three-time winner of the American Bandmasters Association's Ostwald Award.  He recieved the  Kappa Kappa Psi's Distinguished Service to Music Medal in Composition (1973); the 1975 Friends of Harvey Gaul bicentennial competition; and the 1976 American School Band Director's Association's Volkwein Award.


A Sea of Glass Mingled with Fire was commissioned as a tribute to America's foremost glass artist, Dale Chihuly, who was born in Seattle and grew up in Tacoma, Washington.  It recieved its world premiere on Novemeber 21, 1997 at Tacoma's Pantages Theater, with the composer in attendance.  The stage was framed by four magnificent examples of Chihuly's art work. Mr. Chihuly's life has revovled consistently around the sea and glass: His interest in glass began when, as a child, he found bits of colored glass on the beach.  He later worked for a time as a commercial fisherman in Alaska.  He was the first American glass blower to work at the Venini Glass Factory in Venice, Italy, and one of his most ambitious projects was a series of large-scale glass sculptures installed on and over the canals and piazzas of Venice.  He is the founder of the Pilchuk Glass School, and he now works primarily out of his Seattle lakeside studio known as the "Boathouse."  In 1992 Dale Chihuly was named America's first National Living Treasure by the nation's governors.


The work is in three movements, each depicting an aspect of the glass-blowing process and the people who create Dale Chihuly's art.  They are described by the composer:

Robert Jager

The second commissioned work wrtitten for the band is Praises.  David Holsinger's compositions have won four major competitions, including a two time ABA Ostwald Award.  His compositions have also been finialists in both the Demoulin and Sudler competitions.  Unlike most band pieces, Praises is a work for band and ballet company.  It was premiered in April, 2001, as part of the Tacoma Concert Band's celebration of its twentieth anniversery.  The ballet ensemble was the Tacoma Performing Dance Company.  The work was originally to be about ten to fifteen minutes long, but grew longer as composer Holsinger developed his ideas, ending with a major work close to half and hour length!  Praises is six movements long, and each movement and its title describes one of seven different form of praise in the Hebrew language.  The composer describes the work in his program notes:


David Holsinger


David Holsinger - Praises

sea_of_glass_cover praises_cover

The word "praise" in the English language is defined rather succinctly as "an expression of approval either by commendation, worship, or value merit."  We tend to think of "praise" as being, for the most part, celebratory in nature.


In the English translations of the Old Testament, the word "praise" occurs numerous times, anywhere from 246 times in the King James version to nearly 350 times in more modern translations.  The seven Hebrew words which are translated to the English word "praises" each have very distinct individual definitions, some surprisingly different than our western minds would define as "celebratory."  It was on these seven distinctive words that the composer based these dance episodes, written for Robert Musser's adult ensemble, the Tacoma Concert Band, in Tacoma, Washington.


Over six movements, the composer has expressed his impression of the seven Hebrew words for "praise" found in the Old Testament Psalms.  In Movement One, "Zamar" means to celebrate accompanied by musical instruments (one reference to that is Psalm 57:7).


Movement Two is based on the words, "Halal", meaning to be clamorously foolish and boastful in praise (Ps. 102:18), and "Yadah", indicating that individuals are thrusting their hands skyward victoriously (Ps. 67:3).


The Third Movement is based on the Hebrew word, "Barak", which is defined as kneeling and bowing as an act of humble adoration (Ps. 72:156), a surprisingly different stance than Westerners would normally associate with "praise".


Movement Four is based on the word "Towdah", indicating extending the hands upward in thankful adoration, specifically by a choir of worshipers (Ps. 50:23), certainly an early indication of unison choreography.


The last two movements have very short definitions.  Movement Five is based on the word "Shabach", which simply put, means that the praises are shouted (Ps. 63:3);  and Movement Six concludes the ballet with the word "Tehillah", indicating that the praisers are meant to sing their "halals" (Ps. 147:1).


For his inspiration, teaching, and example of "praiselife", the composer dedicates the inspiration of this ballet to his friend and former pastor, Rev. Olen Griffing.

A Sea of Glass Mingled with Fire has not been published to date, but is available on the Tacoma Concert Band's first CD, named, appropriatly, A Sea of Glass, and available at most local record stores and any of our concerts.

The work is in three movements, each depicting an aspect of the glass-blowing process and the people who create Dale Chihuly's art.  They are described by the composer:


1.  Dance at the "Glory Hole"


The "glory hole" is the name given to the furnace in which the glass is made pliable, so that it can be manipulated by the artist.  The work at the glory hole is a sort of ballet, as a number of craftsmen move to the needs of the master artisan who coordinates the birth of a new glass creation.  While this "dance" goes on, Dale Chihuly and his artisans often play music of the great rock legends of the '60's and '70's, hints of which can be found in this movement.


2.  Of "Seaforms," "Venetians," and "Putti"


This movement is named for three types of design created and used by Dale Chihuly.  The music attempts to capture the free forms of the glass, the myriad colors, and the overwhelming beauty of these unique creations.  "Putti" is Italian for "angels," and it refers to the large and small cherubs that adorn some of Chihuly's works.


3.  The Boathouse Gang


This is the name given to the artist-apprentices who work with Dale Chihuly.  The movement incorporated the spirit (although not strictly the music) of the rock music to which Dale and his crew listen while they work.  It begins with a short quote from John Bonham, the late drummer with "Led Zeppelin," and the ending is reflective of Dale Chihuly's philosophy that art should "take it to the edge!"

Praises is published by TNR, and will be included on an upcoming CD by the Tacoma Concert Band.

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