The Legend of HeimdallAnd other Works for Tuba and Orchestra
Concerto Del Garda
JOHN GRIFFITHS, tuba
Orchestra of the Capella of St Petersburg
By Special Arrangement
Griffiths was the Director of the Conservatory of Performing Arts at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan. He also played principal tuba and bass trombone with the Regina Symphony Orchestra. His book, The Low Brass Guide, designed as a brass pedagogy text, has been a popular teaching tool since its publication in 1980.
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Although Richard Raum is primarily a trombonist and Head of the Department of Music at the University of Regina, his conducting background is extensive. He studied conducting at the Eastman School of Music with Karl David Van Hoesen, and at the New England Conservatory with Lorna Cook Devaron. Raum has often conducted his wife’s works, including the concert version of her opera, The Garden of Alice, and the music video, Evolution: A Theme With Variations, Canada’s first classical music video with originally written music. His conducting experience includes musical theatre, chamber ensemble, and symphony orchestra.
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Elizabeth Raum is active both as an oboist and as a composer. She earned her Bachelor of Music in oboe performance from the Eastman School of Music in 1966 and her Master of Music in composition from the University of Regina in 1985. She now plays principal oboe in the Regina Symphony Orchestra.
An extremely prolific composer, her works include 3 operas, over 40 chamber pieces, 15 vocal works, choral works including an oratorio, several ballets, concerti, major orchestral works, and film scores. Pieces by Elizabeth Raum have won many prestigious awards have been heard throughout North America and in Europe, and have been broadcast extensively on the CBC. She enjoys a reputation of being one of Canada’s most "accessible" composers, writing for varied mediums and in remarkably diverse styles.
Raum has written for some of the worlds finest artists including Canadian soprano, Tracy Dahl, Swedish trombone virtuoso, Christian Lindberg, American tuba icon, Roger Bobo, Canadian tubist, John Griffiths, New York Philharmonic principal hornist, Philip Myers, and her daughter, Canadian violinist, Erika Raum.
Through her collaboration with the late John Griffiths, Raum has emerged as one of the leading composers for the solo tuba. In addition to the three concerti on the CD, she has also written several recital pieces for unaccompanied tuba, tuba and tape, and tuba and piano, as well as works for large ensemble and chamber ensemble with other instruments. In an interview that appeared in the 199 summer issue of the T.U.B.A. Journal, Raum commented on the "heroic nature" of the tuba, and it has been this sentiment that has led her to compose so extensively for the instrument.
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Heimdall was the ancient Norse god who kept watch over Asgard, the city of the gods. When he sensed danger, he would sound the alarm with his Gjallarhorn. The introduction to the first movement, Heimdall’s Gjallarhorn, finds Heimdall, portrayed by the solo tuba, brooding on the hill overlooking the city, waiting and watching. He is constantly alert and his warning calls are answered in the orchestra. An allegro agitato expresses approaching danger which culminates in three calls by the tuba echoed in the brass. But it is a false alarm and Heimdall returns to his patient waiting and watching.
The second movement, The Tale of the Bard, tells the story of Heimdall. Within the tale is heard Heimdall’s leitmotif. The bard is interrupted by a folk fiddler who entertains the people with a festive tune. He is soon joined by the rest of the string section, the music growing in intensity until the bard, himself, interrupts to bring the story back to Heimdall.
The third movement with its heavy reliance on brass and percussion is The attack on Asgard. The fury of the battle dominates, but there is also a sense of pathos over the tragedy of war. Themes from the second movement, representing peace, struggle to be heard, but are overwhelmed by the ferocity of the fight from which Asgard emerges victorious.
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Concerto del Garda was written for Canadian tubist, John Griffiths, a long time friend of the composer. Elizabeth Raum had previously written a trombone concerto called the Olmütz Concerto which was premiered by trombonist, Christian Lindberg, in 1995. The themes for the Olmütz Concerto were derived from incipits of three trombone concertos, since lost, that Raum’s husband, Richard, had found in Olomouc, Czechoslovakia. Basing her material on the 2-bar incipits, she created a 3-movement concerto written in the style of the Classical period. When Griffiths heard the Olmütz Concerto, he wanted something similar for the tuba – a solo concerto written in the formal and melodic style of an earlier era. He had recently been asked to give a recital at the 1997 International Tuba / Euphonium Conference in Riva del Garda, Italy, and he wanted to premiere a new work by Raum. The name, "Concerto del Garda," is in honor of that beautiful Italian location.
Raum originally thought of the new work as a sonata for tuba and piano and accordingly wrote a part of equal interest for the piano, but Griffiths felt the three movement work should eventually be orchestrated and he insisted it be called a concerto.
When the piece was performed in Italy, it caught the attention of internationally known tuba virtuoso, Roger Bobo. He also felt the work should be orchestrated and offered to premiere it himself for the 1998 ITEC in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
As the piece lies extremely high in the F tuba range, Raum has written adaptations for treble and bass clef euphonium and for C tuba.
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When Griffiths was invited to solo with the US Army Band, known as "Pershing’s Own," at their tuba conference in January, 2000, he asked Raum to write a new concerto specifically for that event. He gave the composer a biography of Gen. "Black Jack" Pershing in order to put a human face to this man who had become a legend. This became the original inspiration for The Pershing Concerto.
At the same time, the composer’s husband, Richard, had asked her to write a piece for euphonium and piano for him to play in recital at the University of Regina. She decided to write a three movement concerto, first for this combination, and then to rewrite it for Griffiths to play on tuba with band accompaniment, and finally, to reorchestrate it for him to play with the Regina Symphony Orchestra at ITEC 2000 in Regina. This final version is the one recorded by Griffiths and the Orchestra of the Capella of St. Petersburg.
The outer two movements, in the military band style, reflect the courage and fortitude of leaders such as General Pershing, while the inner movement is more melodic. Throughout the work, including the lyrical second movement, are the calls of the brass and the cadence of the percussion echoing the music of the military.