Concert Band


A Musical Crossover for Wind Orchestra

Concert Piece, Sacred Music
Grade Level:
Performance time:
Full Score + Parts
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I composed “Crossbreed” as a commission for the Ellwangen youth band and its conductor Wendelin Dauser honoring the 1250th anniversary of the town Ellwangen. I tried to learn a lot about the town and talked to many culturally knowledgeable persons. This finally gave me the idea to search for a central theme that is well-known and used in Ellwangen’s civic life. I found “Segne du Maria”, a hymn in honor of Virgin Mary, that many citizens associate with their town and their (Christian) life. There were many musical ideas in my head and I was deeply inspired by this hymn, the town and its history, so I decided to write a composition in the form of an “audio picture book” like the beautiful picture-book that the town had given me as an inspiring present which I wanted to set into music in my own way. The beginning of the piece presents the hymn in a festive quartet for two trumpets and two trombones. With gratitude and appreciation for his life’s work, I chose a setting by Siegfried Rundel. He knew more than most arrangers how to transform the simple yet earnest message of traditional songs and hymns for wind instruments. The beginning of “Crossbreed” is supposed to be played behind the audience, so the listeners can focus on the music and themselves before the full band joins in after the first verse. One of the many drafts I had created suddenly showed the opportunity to add fragments of “Segne du Maria”. After the original theme is presented for the first time little segments lay on it like a veil as it merges into one sound. The atmosphere changes with the shift to Db minor and F minor. A poco a poco accelerando leads to a miniature waltz, depicting a walk through Ellwangen during fall. The beauty of the town center and its architecture along with its friendly inhabitants bring a feeling of happiness. This invites us to pause for a moment and reflect upon what is important. I was compelled to let my mind wander and enjoy the town’s special charm. The next part of the piece brought the idea for its subtitle and shows Ellwangen’s rich history. Fragments of the hymn from the introduction initiate an intense fusion of highly diverse cultural elements. Ellwangen always maintained Christian-influenced relationships with Balkan regions. The music, branching out more and more, is like a dream– similar to the very special and unique feeling I had while writing this composition. Links and connections continue to emerge. The town’s rich history and cultural heritage are an enormous source of inspiration. Now the music gives the impression we are rapidly flipping through the “audio picture book” – and suddenly we end up were we (probably) have been before: the last station of our journey is in the magnificent Basilika of St. Vitus. The finale starts, like the beginning of the piece, with a plain quartet, becoming denser and more intense. The ending of “Crossbreed” is not only an homage to a favorite composer, but also an effort to make the wind band sound like a church organ. The composition ends just as an anniversary should be celebrated: full of solemnity and glory.

Thiemo Kraas

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