About Bandanna Overture
Commissioned by the College Band Directors National Association in 1998 as a derived work from the commissioned opera Bandanna, the overture was first performed 24 February 1999 by the Small College Intercollegiate Band conducted by H. Robert Reynolds, as part of the CBDNA 1999 National Convention. The work is not included in theatrical productions of the opera; it exists soley for performances in the concert hall.
An intentionally filmic and emotionally-overwrought blowout exploring the themes of betrayal and death, Bandanna Overture begins with an introduction juxtaposing two ideas: a recurring rhythmic motive which, in the opera is associated with the beating of Mona's heart, and a melody to which the women of the tiny border town cry, 'Santa Maria, Salve!' This is followed by a seven bar refrain based on music from a fist fight in the opera's first scene during which townspeople are singing things like 'Beat him to death!' and 'Slap on the cuffs!' The introduction is followed by the first major section of the overture which weaves together two melodies -- one to which the character Jake sings, 'Donde esta mi querida?' and the other to which the chorus sings, 'To live is to sleep; to die is to awaken.' The refrain is then expanded to include a tune to which the chorus sings the words, 'Day of the Dead: Dia de los Muertos.'
The second section juxtaposes two more themes from the opera -- one to which the character Kane sings, 'Off the hook, all of you working the onion fields!' and the other to which the chorus sings, 'Dona nobis requiem.' The third section, marked 'Like the Main Title of a '30's Melodrama,' is the melody with which the opera begins, climaxes and ends. The first time it appears, a chorus of Migrant Workers sing the words 'We strike out across the river, with our lives between our teeth' as they plunge across the Rio Grande from Mexico to the United States; the second time we hear the melody it underpins the scene in which Morales 'crosses over' from jealousy to madness; we hear the melody a final time at the opera's close, immediately after Mona's death, when her soul is passing from this world to the next across a metaphorical River Styx.
The overture ends as the opera opens and closes, with the recurring chorale melody whose words at the beginning of the opera, 'To live is to sleep; to die is to awaken' and 'Dona nobis pacem' have returned at the opera's end with greater, sadder significance.
About Conductor Matthew J. Smith
Dr. Matthew Smith is entering his second year at Butler University as the Director of Athletic Bands, where he oversees the Butler University Marching Band, Basketball Band, and University Symphonic Band. Previously, he served as Interim Band Director at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he directed the UTC "Marching Mocs" and Basketball Pep Band, and conducted the Concert Band and Wind Ensembles. During his time at UTC, Dr. Smith was a two time conductor of the UTC Sponsored Tri-State Honor Band for high school band students. Prior to his appointment at UTC, he was an Assistant Professor and Director of Bands at Castleton State College in Castleton, Vermont, where he was the director of the "Pulse and Power of Vermont" Spartan Marching Band, and the Spirit Band. He also conducted the Wind Ensembles and Spring Musical Ensemble.
Dr. Smith received his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Conducting from the University of Connecticut, where he was the Assistant Conductor of the University Wind Ensembles, and an Assistant Instructor of the Conducting Courses. During his time at UConn, he premiered the 2009 Big East Band Directors Association Consortium Project, "Torn Canvases" by Mathew Tommassini, with the University Wind Ensembles. Dr. Smith received his Masters of Music Performance in Conducting from West Virginia University, where he was the Graduate Assistant to the Concert and Athletic Band Programs. In addition, Dr. Smith received his Bachelor of Music Education Degree from the University of Dayton. Following his undergraduate work, he was the Director of Bands at Charlotte Catholic High School (Charlotte, North Carolina) where he directed the 120-member competitive "Marching Cougars" Marching Band, and all other instrumental school ensembles.
Dr. Smith spent seven years working with the Fred J. Miller Summer Clinic Programs, where he focused on curriculum writing, staff training, and administration of the clinic program. Through this program, he worked with student leaders at colleges and universities across the Unites States. Dr. Smith is also a sought after arranger for concert and marching ensembles. Currently he is writing for several ensembles across the country. As an advocate for new music publications, Dr. Smith has premiered 10 new musical compositions, including six short operas in three seasons with the Hartford Opera Theater's "New in November" series, where new ten minute operas are staged, rehearsed, and performed all in the span of 48 hours.
Dr. Smith is a member of the National Association for Music Education, College Band Directors National Association, Phi Mu Alpha Professional Men's Music Fraternity, and an honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority, INC.
About the Wind Ensemble
The Butler University Wind Ensemble, conducted by Prof. Michael J. Colburn, Director of Bands, has established a reputation for the highest standards of excellence in musical performance. Comprised of students from majors across the University, the band performs its home concerts at Butler's intimate Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts. The band has also performed at conferences and conventions for the Indiana Music Educators Association, Music Educators National Conference, College Band Directors National Association, American Bandmaster's Association, the International Mid-Europe Conference in Schladming, Austria, the International Spring Music Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Soirées Musicale de Bissen in Luxembourg, and the International Percussive Arts Society.
The Wind Ensemble has traveled extensively; In 2008, the Wind Ensemble took its second tour of Europe, traveling to Prague, Kremsmunster, Vienna, Luxembourg, and Amsterdam. Under the patronage of the U.S. Embassy, the band was honored to be the first American ensemble ever to perform at the international music festival, Soirées Musicale de Bissen, in Bissen, Luxembourg. Recently, the Wind Ensemble performed a concert tour in Italy and Greece during Spring Break in March of 2011.
The Wind Ensemble has had the privilege of working with numerous outstanding guest conductors, including H. Robert Reynolds, Dr. Frederick Fennell, Karel Husa, Col. Arnald Gabriel, Dr. William D. Revelli, Col. L. Bryan Shelburne, Col. John Bourgeois, Commander Allen Beck, Major Matthew Henry, Stephen Eggleston, Dr. John Colbert, Michael Leckrone, Dr. Eric Stark, Henry Leck, and many others.
Soloists who have appeared with the band include the American Brass Quintet, the Empire Brass Quintet, Doc Severinsen, Zack De Pue, Concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Marianne Tobias, Kate Boyd, William Grubb, Larry Shapiro, Andrew Russo, Michael Strauss, Douglas Spaniol, Ross Walter, Sharon Searles, Melissa Williams, Nancy Davis Booth, Andrea Gullickson, Rolf Smedvig, Marvin Perry III, Allen Miller, Jared Rodin, Nicholas Brightman, Greg Imboden, Mark Gilgallon, Davis Brooks, Lisa Brooks, Csaba Erdelyi, and the Indianapolis Children's Choir.
The Butler Bands have a long and distinguished history of commissioning and premiering new works for the wind band. A partial list of composers whose works were either commissioned by, or premiered by the band include Eric Ewazen, Arnold Franchetti, James Beckel, Jr., Michael Schelle, Frank Felice, Robert Jager, Timothy Broege, James Syler, Michael Close, James Woodward, David Gillingham, Daron Hagen, Dong Wook Park, Bradley Nelson, and James Mulholland. Composers with whom the band has worked include, among others, Paul Chihara, Jennifer Higdon, Elliott Schwartz, Karel Husa, Samuel Hazo, Wallace De Pue, Stephen Gryc, and Paul Kilstofte.