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So, over the weekend I was introduced to a new piece of music in a big way. I was barely familiar with the name Stephen Montague. I certainly couldn't tell you any of his piece though. So, I am a regular follower of Adam Schoenberg. He is one of my favorite guys on the planet. I had seen on his performance schedule that he would be in town to premiere his 2nd Symphony at the CBDNA national conference. So, I needed to figure out how to go about getting in to see that. The tickets to the individual concerts were not being sold to the public. So, I found out how to register online for the last day of the conference. I paid for a single day and had my name submitted. Early the day of the premiere I went downtown to the Marriott were the attendees were staying (all the college band directors). I got my badge which allowed me into everything I wanted for the day. First thing I did was sit in on a composers forum featuring Jennifer Jolley, Stephen Montague, Michael Daugherty, Carter Pann, John Puckett, John Corigliano and Adam Schoenberg. Then I went to a minor (in comparison to the final) concert featuring the CBDNA audition wind ensemble. They played Michael Daugherty's Lost Vegas (awesome) and Pictures at an Exhibition. Then by 7:30 we hit the main event. It is the University of Texas at Austin wind ensemble under the direction of Jerry Junkin. I am now a HUGE fan of this ensemble and this director. The musical interpretation and quality of performance along with their professionalism and care for their craft blew me away. Jerry is so enthusiastic and such an inspiration to the kids and anyone who hears his band play. So, the program for that evening was Intrada 1631 by Stephen Montague, John Corigliano's Clarinet Concerto, a world premiere by Jennifer Jolley and the premiere of Adam Schoenberg's 2nd Symphony entitled Migration. Corigliano has a reputation. Schoenberg's piece was insanely incredible. However, the one that blew me away the most really was Montague's Intrada. It was the lead off of the program. If you have never seen the inside of our concert hall then I shall provide an image for reference. helzberg-hall-gkd-ericbowers-kauffmancenter-1.jpg Quite literally one of the most gorgeous and exciting places on earth. Well, that is one reason to post a picture. The other is to provide a visual to explain how the piece was performed. Intrada 1631 is written by Stephen Montague and was premiered in 2003. The piece starts out with this very tribal, native sounding drum beat from a big bass drum which they had dead center and top of the stage. Then, the brass comes in plays the melody of a very chant like hymn in a single horn. There are also two other members of the band at the tops of each staircase to the left and the right of the choral loft/organ. They have drums strapped around them. Another large bass drum is placed at the far right of the stage. The piece grows and grows very much like Ravel's Bolero. The bass drums provide that constant beat and the brass builds and builds while the harmony begins to blossom. Then the winds and reeds come in and finally the organ is added in for the final two iterations of the hymn. Now, you can see in this picture the 2nd and 3rd tier balcony to the left and the right of the stage . The ensemble placed 4 members in each section of the balcony resulting in 16 antiphonal musicians in total. In the final portion of the piece they played their brass antiphonally and as the rather long final blast of sound ramps up to a conclusion they switched to an alternating mix of violin and triangle for a very glittery and sparkly surround sound atmosphere (there is a technical name for the technique used, but beats me what it is). This piece is close to modern Pines of Rome awesome. This performance was one I will remember until I die. I highly suggest you listen and get in on this music if you are not familiar with it. It was one of the most incredible concert experiences of my life. Sometime next year the university will release a recording of all 4 pieces that were featured on this program as they have already recorded under the Reference Recording label. It will be a definite hot item to grab. This is the only full performance of it I could find online: https://soundcloud.com/leo-guan-2/01-montague-intrada-1631