"We believe the music of David Maslanka deserves to be heard and it is our privilege to bring it to a wider audience with this recording."
We made this statement in 2003, introducing our Transformations recording of Maslanka's Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5, and we still hold it to be true. Six years later, Maslanka's vital creative voice speaks even more ephatically to our troubled times in a powerfully direct manner, and continues to invite reflection and response. Our experiences in the rehearsal and performance of his music are rewarding beyond our imagination and propel our ensemble forward in the process.
We hope you will enjoy these performances of David Maslanka's works by one of the premier ensembles of St. Olaf College -- the 90-member St. Olaf Band. Founded in 1891 as the St. Olaf Cornet Band, the St. Olaf Band has been acclaimed over the decades for its superb musicianship. The ensemble celebrated its centennial year with a tour of Great Britain, becoming the first college music organization to perform at the famed Aldeburgh Festival. The St. Olaf Band was also the first American collegiate band to make a European concert tour, traveling to Norway under the baton of F. Melius Christiansen to perform for King Haakon and capacity crowds in 1906. The band has subsequently toured several times in Norway, Great Britain and central Europe, as well as throughout the United States. Memorable performances include invitations to the national conventions of the American Bandmasters Association (1997), College Band Directors National Association (1987) and Music Educators National Conference (2004). The band toured Britain and Ireland in the summer of 2000, participated in a study tour of Mexico in January 2004, and recently participated in a study tour of Japan in January 2010.
The St. Olaf Band, through generous support from the Miles Johnson Endowment, co-commissioned Maslanka's Symphony No. 5, Symphony No. 7, Symphony No. 8, the clarinet concerto Desert Roads and David's Book, his percussion concerto.
Timothy Mahr was appointed as conductor of the St. Olaf Band in 1994, replacing Miles H. Johnson, who retired after 37 years as band director. The innovative programming and inspired performances of today continue the legacy of Johnson's artistic vision and hard work.
Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1946, David Maslanka attended the Oberlin College Conservatory where he studied clarinet with George Waln and composition with Joseph Wood. He spent a year at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and did graduate work in composition at Michigan State University with H. Owen Reed. He has served on the faculties of State University of New York at Geneseo, Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and Kingsborough College of the City University of New York. A member of ASCAP, he now lives in Missoula, Montana.
Maslanka's compositions have been performed throughout the United States, in Canada, Japan, Australia and numerous European countries. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Composer Awards, and five residence fellowships at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. In addition he has received grants from the State University of New York Research Foundation, the University of Connecticut Research Foundation, the American Music Center, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Maslanka's compositions are published by Carl Fischer, Inc., Kjos Music Company, Marimba Productions, Inc., the North American Saxophone Alliance, and OU Percussion Press. His works have been recorded on the CRI, Mark, Crest, Umass, Novisse, Klavier, Cambria, St. Olaf Records, and Albany labels.
Maslanka's works for winds and percussion have become especially well-known and many are considered standards of the wind band repertory. They include, among others, A Child's Garden of Dreams for symphonic wind ensemble, Concerto for Piano, Winds and Percussion, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th symphonies, Mass for soloists, chorus, boys chorus, wind orchestra and organ, and the two Wind Quintets. He has composed wind concerti with wind ensemble for flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, two horns, trombone, marimba and percussion. Percussion works include Variations of "Lost Love" and My Lady White for solo marimba, and three ensemble works: Arcadia II: Concerto for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble, Crown of Thorns, and Montana Music: Three Dances for Percussion. In addition, he has written a wide variety of chamber, orchestra, and choral pieces.
Maslanka's style is characterized by a very contemporary blend of heart-felt lyricism and rhythmic drive, coupled with an uncanny and remarkable ear for musical sonorities. Particularly in his well-known and acclaimed works for wind band, the music is notable for its poetr y, warmth and spiritual quality. Inspiration is frequently drawn from such fascinating sources as the dreams of a young girl as recorded by psychologist C. G. Jung (A Child's Garden of Dreams), the works of African writer Ahmadou Kourouma (Tears) and the poetry of Richard Beale (A Litany for Courage and the Seasons, Mass).