A Midwest Celebration

A Midwest Celebration was commissioned by the Decatur Municipal Band from Illinois, USA, to celebrate150 years of service to the City of Decatur, which funded the commission.

Formed on 19th September 1857, the Decatur Municipal Band is one of the oldest non-military bands in continuous service in the United States; it has been active in the community throughout its distinguished lifetime, taking part in parades, special events and presenting indoor and outdoor concerts.

At the request of the band’s music director, Jim Culbertson, Philip Sparke was asked to write a piece that could salute its long history by reflecting its varied repertoire, which consists of traditional fare, such as overtures and marches, as well as the latest original works and arrangements.

So A Midwest Celebration takes as its inspiration the popular 19th century orchestral overtures of composers such as Berlioz, Verdi and Suppé. Starting with a flourish, it is not long before the mood subsides and a lilting melody is presented by horns, clarinets and saxophones. The theme is just about to develop when it is rudely interrupted by the trumpets, who introduce a headlong Vivace section which features brass fanfares and florid woodwind figuration. Eventually the original horn melody reappears under undulating flutes but it is not long before the Vivace melodies reassert themselves until the climax of the piece is reached when the two main ideas are combined to bring the work to a close.