Wedding Dances from Bandanna
Wedding Dances from Bandanna
for symphonic band
- Premiere: 27 February 1999 / Bates Recital Hall, UT-Austin, Austin, Texas / University of Kansas Symphonic Band / Robert E. Foster
- Bandstration: Mark Spede
- Instrumentation: picc.2fl.2ob.3cl.bcl.2bn-2asax.tsax.bsax-4tp.4hn. 2trbn.btrbn.tba.euph-db-timp.-perc(4) [GRADE 4]
- Duration: 9'
As the character in Orson Welles' Touch of Evil observes, "Border towns bring out the worst in people."
Bandanna is an opera set in 1968 in a small border town in Texas. The second act begins with a wedding reception, at which the principle characters of the opera pair off in a sequence of wedding dances. This suite contains the music from that anything-but-happy wedding reception. During the course of the dances, Mona -- the pretty wife of the town's police chief Morales -- dances innocently with each of her husband's associates. Morales, a jealous man by nature who has been led to believe that he is being cuckolded, grows increasingly drunk, his rage mounting, as he watches each successive pairing.
Dance No. 1: Jake, Morales' lieutenant, and his bride Emily, dance to a waltz whose melody is associated with Jake's sentiment, "Donde esta mi querida?"
Transition: Emily breaks away from him and sings of her misgivings over pulsating clarinets.
Dance No. 2: Morales and Mona dance to another waltz which combines their two melodies. His melody is associated with the vow: "I pledge myself to Mona, my fountainhead;" hers to the first words we hear her say to him: "Miguel, you've been gone so long." The waltz deepens into the melody we associate with Mona's credo: "For the alder and the willow nail their colors to their masts."
Transition: Jake reminisces about his days as a single man.
Dance No. 3: Morales dances a rumba with Emily. The tune associated with the first words ofMorales' credo, "Again and again, where a neon sign leaves a little red stain on the desert air" is combined with Emily's lament about Jake, "When I reached across my pillow, the night before last, there was only dark."
Dance No. 4: Jake and Mona dance an old-fashioned, traditional tango. The words to this melody, although they change throughout the opera, are always associated with the idea of seduction.
Dance No. 5: Kane, a decadent, bad man, abruptly wheels a very young girl onto the dance floor, to a crude, 1950's rock-'n-roll version of the music he used earlier in a labor speech to migrant workers.
Dance No. 6: Mona dances, initially with reluctance, though she gradually becomes more responsive, with a man named Cassidy to a strong power ballad setting of a tune associated with the idea of 'crossing over' from Mexico to America and from Life to Death. In this context, it underpins her husband Morales' 'crossing over' from sanity to madness as he watches her with Cassidy.
Coda: Morales 'loses it,' lunges at Mona. She and Cassidy flee. The wedding reception breaks up. The suite ends with the various tunes of the opera charging through Morales' fevered mind as decides to kill Mona.
Before submitting the score of this work to the commissioners, I passed it by a gifted graduate student named Mark Spede, who suggested a number of orchestration simplifications from my original pit scoring to facilitate performances by non-professional bands. Accordingly, he is given an orchestrator's credit.
— Daron Hagen, 1989
A terrific new work... Hagen's dark Wedding Dances are from his opera Bandanna (1999), a scene that has a bride dancing with her groom's friends, despite his increasingly jealous anger.
— Barry Kilpatrick, American Record Guide, March, 2000
...The [piece] includes two waltzes, a rumba, a tango, a 1950's rock-n-roll song, and a concluding ballad. This arrangement uses optional endings so that each dance can be performed separately or as a whole. The percussion scoring requires a minimum of five players doubling on equipment that includes a drum set. The varied and transparent scoring includes many solo opportunities for flute, oboe, alto and tenor saxophone, and trumpet.
— John Thompson, Winds Magazine, Spring, 2000