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

Performance Time: 5:20  |  Grade: 4 1/2

Furioso was commissioned by the Northern California Band Association to celebrate its 25th anniversary. It was premiered by the 2016 NCBA All-Northern High School Honor Band with Dr. Joan deAlbuquerque conducting in the Atherton Auditorium at San Joaquin Delta College. Composer Gary P. Gilroy writes the following about Furioso:

I was very honored to receive a second commission (Take the Ribbons was commissioned for the 2011 NCBA All-Northern High School Honor Band) from the Northern California Band Association and felt very confident writing for the group since I have served as conductor of the band less than five years ago. I also felt fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Joan deAlbuquerque who I’ve known for years as a friend and colleague. Dr. deAlbuquerque is especially familiar to me because my son, Nicholas P. Gilroy studied with her during his undergraduate years at California State University, Long Beach. Nick always had wonderful things to say about Dr. deAlbuquerque and it was clear to me that he respected her tremendously. He really enjoyed working with her.

In writing Furioso I was quite confident that I was writing for a very fine high school honor band. This composition is not meant for the average school band but only for a group with mature players who are ready for a challenge. The tempi and dynamic ranges are extreme to say the least. Intense and persistent energy is essential for a successful performance. And only a seasoned conductor with experienced players could survive the constant shifting of meters.

The majority of the composition is focused in d minor although it certainly strays into other key areas at times. The introductory material is wild and passionate, and it should be presented in an almost raucous fashion. The upper woodwinds play a one measure accented pattern that is both dissonant and repetitive. In a spirit that might be described as schizophrenic, the 7/8 metered woodwinds yield to a repeated ‘d’ from the marimba assuring the listener that no matter how wild and outrageous this introductory material may be, Furioso will be grounded in d minor. After this intense introduction, a simple and quiet melody is presented by the upper woodwinds in 7/8 meter (2,2,3) combined with 3/4 and 4/4 meter. Accompaniment is provided only by the marimba and some light percussion.

Furioso wanders through a variety of moods and feelings while always maintaining or increasing a nervous energy and pulse. Eventually the piece wanders towards a massive arrival (measure 196) with percussion providing a heavy rock feel that climaxes in Db. Once the loud sounds subside from the crashing climax, the persistent marimba prevails like a puff of smoke, with the repetitive statement of a fragment from the work’s main theme, although this time, a pair of repeated 7/8 figures are written in 4/4 and 3/4 to set up a series of victorious sounding chords primarily from the brass. Introductory material is employed once again, only faster now, to bring this exhilarating work to a fantastic close.

A minimum of seven percussionists is required for a fine performance of this work. The mallet and timpani parts are important and challenging in their own rite, but the two best percussion players should be assigned to 1) Percussion I, player 1 and 2, respectively.

Regarding measure 196, it is suggested that the four percussionists (Perc I, both players and Perc II, both players) each have a large bass drum on its side or a large & low floor tom and a suspended splash or China cymbal. For the best effect, have these four “stations” spaced evenly around the back of the band. Please note that these four players should only be spaced out like this for measures 196 through 205. Furthermore, the players should proceed quietly as they move back to their normal positions while the marimba continues in measure 205 and beyond.

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