Bandanna Overture


Bandanna Overture


for concert band (1999)

  • Premiere: 24 February 1999  / Bates Recital Hall, UT-Austin, Austin, Texas  / Small College Intercollegiate Band / H. Robert Reynolds
  • Instrumentation: picc.2.2.Ebcl.3.bcl.2-2asax.tsax.bsax.-4.4.3.euph.tba-db-perc(4)-timp. [GRADE 4]
  • Duration: 8'
  • Dedication: Commissioned by the College Band Directors National Association for the Small College Intercollegiate Band
  • This work is only available as a rental work from Carl Fischer here.

Program note

H. Robert Reynolds conducted the world premiere of  Bandanna Overture.

H. Robert Reynolds conducted the world premiere of Bandanna Overture.

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. It is important to note that Bandanna Overture was composed especially for the concert hall; it is not performed as part of the staged opera.

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.


...This work is challenging and noble. The percussion scoring is especially demanding and includes unison vibraphone and marimba lines doubling the opening woodwind scoring. Structured in four large sections with numerous meter and tonal changes, this piece will definitely challenge performers.

— James W. Lambert, Winds Magazine

Hagen's lovely music, entirely tonal and beautifully written, continues to impress.... Bandanna Overture is a concert exploration of themes associated with Hagen's opera Bandanna and is not intended to be performed with the opera. ...Well written and resourcefully scored, Bandanna Overture should become a staple of the wind repertory.

— James Story, Fanfare Magazine , January/February 2002