Saiai No Sensei



Composer(s) / Arranger(s): Gary P. Gilroy

Performance Time: 5:35  |  Grade: 3 1/2  |  Style: Contemporary

"Saiai No Sensei was commissioned by the Lloyd C. Bird High School Skyhawk Band, Emily M. Oyan, Director, to honor the career of Dr. Terry Austin. It was premiered on Friday, May 15, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia with Dr. Gary P. Gilroy conducting and Dr. Terry Austin in attendance.

Commissioning Director of Bands, Emily M. Oyan offers the following:

I began my first teaching job in January of 2003 at Nottoway High School in Virginia. I was the third director hired that school year, and the program had lost a number of students due to the lack of consistent leadership. I was determined to give the students a small trip to reward them for working so hard that year. We performed at the local Fiesta-val Busch Gardens performance at Woodside High School, and I invited my middle school band director, Wayne Powell from Yorktown, VA, to hear my group perform. Dr. Terry Austin, Director of Bands and Professor of Music at Virginia Commonwealth University, was one of the adjudicators at this festival of music. He saw Wayne Powell, asked him why he was in attendance, and then asked him if he would introduce him to me.

From that moment on Dr. Austin has consistently and positively impacted my teaching career. He encouraged me to go to graduate school, invited me to be a member of the Commonwealth Winds, and has guided and advised me countless times over the years. I find myself at a loss for the words to thank him for the difference he has made in my career. He has guest conducted the Skyhawk Band in two previous spring concerts, and will conduct a third time this Spring. He has come out to assist my students multiple times over the past 18 years. In the spring of 2019, the Skyhawk Wind Symphony was honored to perform a side-by-side concert with his VCU Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Furthermore, his influence extends beyond my development as an educator, and extends to the development of the next generation of potential music educators. Many of my music major former students have attended Virginia Commonwealth University upon graduation. He is a mentor, advisor, and teacher to the students at VCU as well as for many of my colleagues.

Years ago, the Musashino Academia Musicae (a Japanese Music Conservatory in Tokyo) began a program with rotating American guest conductors conducting their top Wind Ensemble. Ray Cramer, Indiana University Director of Bands Emeritus, has overseen the Japanese program for almost 30 years, and is in charge of choosing the guest conductors each year. Over the years, many directors have had this honor (Rick Hansen, Don Wilcox, Ken Bloomquist, et. al) with the most recent and current rotation of guest conductors being Ray Cramer, Dick Mayne, Jim Lambrecht, and Terry Austin. This rotation has brought Terry to Japan 3 separate times, and he plans to return in 2023 for his fourth semester. During their extended stays in Japan, both Terry and his wife Tracia have fallen in love with the Japanese culture. In discussing concepts for our commission, Dr. Gilroy and I felt it fitting to use Taiko drumming as the inspiration for this composition, to represent the beautiful music of Japan and the Japanese people whom Terry has become extremely passionate about teaching.

Saiai No Sensei means "beloved teacher," and this piece is dedicated to Dr. Terry Austin, for the impact he has had on my career and on the Skyhawk Band program. He is truly beloved to me. I will always cherish his guidance, friendship, and faith in me.

Composer Gary P. Gilroy was very pleased to be commissioned for the second time by Emily M. Oyan and the Lloyd C. Bird High School Skyhawk Band. An earlier work, Always With Grace was commissioned in 2008 and published in 2009. 

The medium low and very low concert toms (or floor toms) produce a low and effective sound much like that of the Japanese Taiko drums. The bass drum should be played with a pair of chamois covered beaters or a small hard felt mallet. A pair of Vic Firth Tom Gauger Ultra Staccato Signature Concert Bass Drum Mallet would be most suitable. And the wise arrangement of high-quality percussion instruments is imperative for the successful performance of this work. Small items such as wood blocks, jam blocks, cowbell, brake drum, etc., should be mounted and easily reached by the players while keeping their eyes on their music and the conductor. The hi-hat height should be adjusted from the normal seated position to the standing concert percussionist. Proper arrangement of each percussionist’s equipment is essential. Percussion should be encouraged to play out when they are the only section playing and back off and blend in a more accompanimental role when other sections of the band are playing. And finally, conductors should be sure that the 8th note remains constant throughout the entire work."

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