Student Questions and Answers, part 1

Q: What made Cody write this music for us?

The Cochran Wrenn Duo commissioned composer Cody Forrest to write this piece to be performed by flutist Bonnie Cochran, guitarist Bryan Wrenn and the Marlborough High School Wind Ensemble.

Q: Why does no one play in the beginning?

In the first few measures of Lux Arcana, Cody introduces the passacaglia theme that is the basis for the whole 1st movement of the piece. The beginning of the piece is a guitar solo, so no one in the Wind Ensemble plays during those measures. This will make more sense the flute and guitar begin rehearsing with the Wind Ensemble.

Q: How did we get chosen for this?

After conceiving the idea for InConcert, Bonnie Cochran and Bryan Wrenn talked with several local band directors and trusted advisors about the idea. In the end, we chose to collaborate with the Marlborough Public Schools Music Program because: 1) Bonnie Cochran wanted this project to benefit the community in which she lives, 2) Wind Ensemble Director Gary Piazza expressed excitement about the collaboration and how this type of project could benefit his students, and 3) Bonnie and Bryan saw that InConcert had the potential to benefit the Marlborough community to a much greater degree than the other communities we were exploring.

Rhythm, Melody, Passacaglia & Toccata: 5th In-class Session at MHS

We began our 5th session with the Marlborough High School Wind Ensemble with a quick review of our work together last spring. We also looked at and played the rhythms and melodies created by the students in the MHS Wind Ensemble  during one of our in-class sessions in May 2017. These melodies and rhythms made their way into the composition created by Cody Forrest for InConcert.

We also learned a few terms that are found in the piece:

  • Concertino – a musical composition for a solo instrument(s) accompanied by an orchestra or band. When performing a concertino, the soloists usually stand in front of the band or orchestra near the conductor. A concertino is a shorter version of the concerto. 
  • Passacaglia – an instrumental musical composition consisting of variations, typically over a ground bass and in moderately slow triple meter.
  • Ground Bass (or Ostinato Bass) – a short, recurring melodic pattern in the bass part of a composition that serves as the principal structural element.
  • Toccata – (“to touch”) A piece in a free and idiomatic style, usually for keyboard and often in several sections and incorporating virtuoso elements designed to show off the player’s ‘touch’. Several 20th‐century composers have used the term toccata for movements of orchestral works. (Paraphrased from Oxford Dictionary of Music.)

To illustrate the concepts of the passacaglia, we listened to Britten’s Nocturnal , and to hear an example of a toccata, we listened to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565.

At the end of class, we discussed student impressions of the piece and the experience of hearing new music.

What is Chamber Music?

Chamber Music is simply music written and performed by a small number of musicians (usually 2-9) with one player to a part.

Chamber music is usually performed without a conductor, so the musicians themselves have to learn to work together and communicate without words during performance and rehearsal.

One of the great things about chamber music is that it can be performed in a smaller space than a concert hall, which allows the audience to feel more a part of what’s going on rather than simply spectators.

The term originally referred to music that was not intended to be performed in church, the theater or a concert hall, but rather to be performed in a “chamber” or room of a home. But now chamber music is performed everywhere, from homes to concert halls.

What Does It Mean to Commission a Piece of Music?

“To commission music is to pay a composer to write a particular composition for a specific purpose or event.” (According to New Music USA)
For InConcert, we are commissioning a composer to write a piece of music for us to perform alongside the Marlborough High School Wind Ensemble.

What is a Concertino?

As a part of InConcert, a composer will be writing a concertino to be performed by the Cochran Wrenn Duo with the Marlborough High School Wind Ensemble. But what exactly is a concertino?

A concertino is a musical composition for a solo instrument or solo instruments accompanied by an orchestra or band. When performing a concertino, the soloists usually stand in front of the band or orchestra near the conductor.

If you have heard of a concerto, you may be wondering what the difference is between a concerto and a concertino. A concertino is just a shorter version of the concerto.