Album Title: Wind Band Masterworks Volume III
Title: BLUE LAKE OVERTURE
Composer: John Barnes Chance
Performer: The Texas A & M University Symphonic Band
Conductor: Timothy Rhea
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Here is an exciting, festival type overture. It is varied in tone color but unified in theme.
Written in 1971 and dedicated to the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp of Twin Lake, Michigan, this exciting overture displays the composer’s command of time, meter, and instrumentation. Beginning with a trademark opening tempo marking of slancio (with impetuosity), the initial motive is heard in the horns. The pulsing 3+3+2 pattern transitions into a soft waltz and a restatement of the initial theme. The energy of the opening returns to carry the work to its finale.
Rhythmic themes are developed leading to a four-part conversation tossed between all sections of the band, beginning in the woodwinds. One needs strong players, particularly in the low brass and horns, to effectively perform this demanding piece. There is lots of imitation throughout, and the emergence of very dissonant chords leads effectively to a grand pause (GP).
Immediately the musical scenario shifts to a waltz, which is reminiscent of French Circus music. A flute solo takes us to a forceful theme stated by unison horns. As in the “Rocky Point Overture”, the percussion is used to link phrases together and to punctuate the rhythms played forcefully by the ensemble.
A moving pedal point (ostinato) in the high woodwinds encases dissonant chords, building to a colorful ending. The polyrhythmic effect leading to a powerful ending is very effective.
This piece derives its energy from the rhythms and not from the brass volume. The 3+3+2 grouping of eighth notes is unusual, but works well once the instrumentalists understand the phrasing concept. This is a great teaching tool for musical phrasing, and one will need players that are technically proficient (who have a developed agility and dexterity) in order to perform this piece well. The challenging use of dynamics and the appealing rhythmic motives combine to make this a showcase for the musically mature band.
Highly recommended for high school and college level.