San Francisco Wind Ensemble

Friday, April 19, 2013, 5:00 pm
The San Francisco Wind Ensemble is a new wind band at the professional level, comprised of some of the leading musicians in the Bay Area, conducted by Martin Seggelke. The mission of this unique ensemble is to bring world-class performances of the finest wind-ensemble repertoire to audiences in the Bay Area and beyond. Repertoire selections cover the wide range of musical styles and genres that this relatively young medium has to offer, reaching from fascinating contemporary sounds, to familiar wind band classics. Free.
Creative Arts Building, Knuth Hall
School of Music and Dance
SF State Box Office
Event extras: 

In addition to its annual concert series at SF State, the ensemble strives to offer a variety of community engagement activities, arts education services and collaborations, at little to no cost to student musicians. Further goals include collaborations with composers to support their ambitious, innovative musical visions.


  • Shostakovich (1906–1975): Festive Overture, Op. 96 (1954) (transcription: Donald Hunsberger)
  • Rudin (1961–): Der Traum des Oenghus—Poem nach einer Sage von der “Gruenen Insel” (The Dream of Oenghus—Poem after a Legend about the “Green Island”), Op. 37/1-2 (1993–1994, 1996)
  • Hindemith (1895–1963): Symphony in B-flat (1951)

Program notes

Dmitry Shostakovich (1906–1975): Festive Overture, Op. 96 (1954)

(transcription by Donald Hunsberger)

Dmitry Shostakovich was one of the most innovative and heroic composers of the 20th century due, in large part, to the circumstances he had to endure under the reign of Joseph Stalin.

The overture, as a musical form, features very little in Shostakovich’s oeuvre, and the Festive Overture was brought into existence through a rather strange turn of events. Shostakovich received the commission for this work days before the intended concert—a gathering at the Bolshoy Theatre on November 6, 1954, celebrating the 37th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution. Vasili Nebol’sin, a conductor at the Bolshoy Theatre, found himself in the potentially disastrous position of having no suitable work with which to open this very important concert. He approached Shostakovich (who was, at the time, a musical consultant at the theatre), hoping the composer might be able to help. When Shostakovich agreed to write the opening piece, a much relieved Nebol’sin organized couriers to take the individual sheets of manuscript (still wet with ink) to the theatre, where specially employed copyists would prepare the orchestral parts. Within just two days the completed overture was in rehearsal.

Festive Overture was written in 1954 for a large orchestra and brass choir. Shostakovich arranged his own orchestral composition for the Russian Military Band. Donald Hunsberger wrote the setting for the American concert band in 1965, and it quickly became a popular “opener or curtain raiser” for wind ensembles and bands.

The overture opens with a brass fanfare, instigated by two trumpets acting as a curtain call. The ensuing two bars for bass instruments, in many respects, prefigures the melodic shape of the first presto theme. The fanfare continues, adding rippling winds and a heavy organ-like bass, building toward a cadential sequence of unison chords that introduces the first presto theme.

The accompaniment to this first theme has a flavor of America and, in particular, Bernstein about it, while the theme itself bears a not-insignificant resemblance to the principal theme of Mikhail Glinka’s overture to his opera Ruslan and Lyudmila—Glinka being the composer regarded by Russians and Soviets as the father of Russian music. This theme is transported to the relative minor (F-sharp minor) by the upper wind instruments before returning to A major. A subtle passage for trumpets (employing rapid tonguing) reminds us briefly of the opening fanfare before progressing into a section of exploration and development, emerging triumphant with the restatement of the theme, in rhythmic augmentation, by all bass instruments.

The second theme emerges in the conventional key of the dominant (E major) as a lyrical melody for horns, which is developed thereupon. The ensemble gradually gravitates toward a single B-natural, whereupon the music transitions back to material from the first theme.

The first presto theme itself is restated emphatically. The music then builds to the first of two major climaxes in the work — the combination of both presto themes in counterpoint, employing the entire ensemble. The second theme is then given full attention before recalling some of the first theme material, which builds to the final and most profound climax of the work, the recapitulation of the opening brass fanfare.

This, the most grandiose and expansive section of the work finally explodes into the coda—a dash to the finishing line—ending an overture that, in the words of Lebedinsky, is a “brilliant effervescent work, with its vivacious energy spilling over like uncorked champagne.”
—Kristian Hibberd

Rolf Rudin (1961–): Der Traum des Oenghus—Poem nach einer Sage von der “Gruenen Insel” (The Dream of Oenghus—Poem after a Legend about the “Green Island”), Op. 37/1-2 (1993–94, 1996)

The musical poem The Dream of Oenghus refers to the Irish legend of the same name, edited by Frederik Hetmann in his collection Irish Magic Garden—Fairy Tales, Legends and Stories from Ireland (Eugen Diederichs Verlag).

In this legend Prince Oenghus has a nightly vision when fast asleep: He sees a girl who plays a flute and falls in love with her. However, as she keeps disappearing she remains unattainable for him for the time being. He consequently sets out to search for her until he finally finds the girl. This piece is no musical retelling of this legend, in a way it rather invites reading the story, as there are only single phases and atmospheres of the legend serving as extra-musical sources of imagination.

The composition is conceived in a large two-part form. The first part was composed in 1993–94 and commissioned by the Confederation of German Band and Folk Music Associations as a Grade 3/4 test piece. It was selected for the competitions that took place during the second German Federal Festival of Music in Münster/Westfalia.

The music of the first part largely converts into sound patterns. The vision is described at the beginning of the legend. The atmosphere of something dreamlike or unattainable became the inspiration for writing the music of a tenderly somber world of dreams: Noise sounds of the beginning, bell-like motifs and a vacillating sound stratum hovering in itself bestow upon this composition its mysteriously nocturnal character. An arc is created through several repetitions of a mysterious chant in continuously increasing instrumentation and dynamics. The arc is able to symbolize the quest for the girl in terms of length of space and time like in a dreamlike premonition.

Without having read the legend again for some two years, the second larger part of the musical poem was written in 1996 for the State Wind Orchestra of Baden-Württemberg. It examines the more “real” aspects of the legend. At its beginning the second part of this composition already makes associations—expressed by its ferocity—to the prince’s “aberrations” in his quest for the girl. This, as we know, was shown in the first part in a visionary and idealistically transfigured way. This also applies to the importance of the flute, which was alluded to only toward the end of the first part, whereas here it is given ample room for development: A large cantilena full of enigmatic expression floats above an harmonic carpet which links the visions of nightly tranquillity of the first part.

A constantly repeated rhythmical increase of march-like character climaxes in picking up the “mysterious chant” of the first part. In that way it leads to formal unity of the complete work in an evident way. The atmosphere of apotheosis of the final coda makes the relieving b-flat major disappear in the visionary noise sounds of the beginning and dismisses the audience in a peaceful “legendary” atmosphere.
—Rolf Rudin

Rolf Rudin was born in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, on December 9, 1961. There, and in Würzburg, he studied music education, composition, conducting and theory of music. After graduating in composition (1991) and conducting (1992) he lectured music theory at the Frankfurter Musikhochschule from 1993 to 2001. Since then, he has been living as a freelance composer in Erlensee near Frankfurt/Main.

Rudin earned a scholarship of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes, and in 1990–91 was awarded a scholarship for a six-month sojourn in Paris at the Cité Internationale des Arts from the Bavarian Ministry for Cultural Affairs. In 2010 he received the Cultural Award of the Main-Kinzig-Region near Frankfurt for outstanding cultural and artistic performance. Many of his compositions for chamber music, choir and orchestra have won prizes at German and international competitions and are performed worldwide.

From 1999 to 2005 Rudin was a member of the International WASBE-Board. Since 2003 he has served as vice president of the Hessian section of the German Composer’s Society.

Most of his compositions are commissioned works for institutes, orchestras, ensembles, choirs and musicians of Germany and other countries. Some of his compositions were nominated as compulsory pieces at German and international competitions. His works are documented on more than 50 CDs, with productions and live recordings at many broadcasting companies in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Italy, Australia, Ireland and the U.S.

Paul Hindemith (1895–1963): Symphony in B-flat (1951)

Paul Hindemith was an influential German composer who explored the fringes of tonality through his music and was teacher to many a great name in composition. He grew up and began his career in Germany, but a complicated relationship with the Nazi regime in the 1930s sent him elsewhere. During that period, he was invited to Turkey, where he helped to reorganize the music education system there. In 1940, he emigrated to the United States. He taught primarily at Yale University and became an American citizen in 1946, but moved to Zurich in 1953, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Hindemith developed his own system of tonality that was not diatonic, but ranks musical intervals from most consonant to most dissonant while still relying on a tonal center. While this approach sounds purely academic, it resulted in playful, accessible music in Hindemith’s hands. He was very interested in understanding instrumental technique, to the point that he is said to have learned to play every one of his instrumental sonatas (and there are many, including trumpet, clarinet, trombone, harp, tuba, flute, violin, viola and bass) on the instrument for which he wrote it.

The Symphony in B-flat is a cornerstone of the wind band repertoire. Hindemith wrote it on a commission from “Pershing’s Own” U.S. Army Band. Its three movements use classical and baroque approaches to form and thematic development in Hindemith’s unique harmonic idiom.

The symphony’s first movement, marked Moderately fast, with vigor, is in sonata allegro form. Hindemith introduces two themes immediately. The first is lyrical and rhythmically intense, spanning 10 bars. The second, a short burst of five 8th notes, is hidden in the bluster of the first beat of the movement, not emerging fully until the two themes merge.

Another pair of themes is introduced at letter D. Together, they grow into semi-climax before being interrupted by another dotted-rhythm theme, which dominates the development until the second initial theme returns. The recapitulation of the first two themes is shrouded by changed textures, but the second pair of themes returns with confidence, ending the movement in a solid B-flat major.

The second movement is broadly in three sections. It begins with a dolorous duet between alto sax and cornet. There are hints of Hindemith’s Weimar Republic roots in the melody, which sounds like the lamentation of a tired cabaret singer. A much more lively middle section features tambourine accompaniment, suggesting some angry dance. The two contrasting feelings are thrown together in the third section.

The Fugue is actually two fugues. The first begins after a short introduction, in which we hear the first fugue subject stated by itself. The second uses a broader, triplet-based subject. The two come together late in the movement, only to be joined by the first theme from the first movement as the piece heads to its cacophonous closure.
—Andy Pease