Looking for a Solo & Ensemble Festival selection? I’ve collected some of my favorites – all of them are approved on the MSHSAA prescribed graded music list, and yet they’re not the same ones that everyone plays in this book and this book (so the judges aren’t sick of hearing them!).
Samuel Barber: Canzone
Why You’ll Love It: Barber (1910-1981) was an American composer perhaps most famous for his Adagio for Strings. This melody has a few twists and turns in its history: Barber first composed it as part of his Elegy for flute and piano, composed in 1959 for the flautist Manfred Ibel. Then, he expanded on its ideas in the second movement of his Piano Concerto (Opus 38), which won him the Pulitzer Prize for music. Finally, he re-transcribed it for flute and piano, giving us the beautiful Canzone we have before us today. Its long, sustained phrases and simplicity despite its many accidentals gives us great practice in the ways something that looks complex on the page can still sound clear and restrained in performance.
Vittorio Monti: Czardas
Why You’ll Love It: Monti was an Italian composer who lived 1868-1922. This piece is perhaps his most famous, originally written in 1904 for violin (or mandolin) with piano. It’s based on the Hungarian folk dance csárdás, a name with its roots in an old word for “tavern.” You’ll get a chance to show your versatility with 7 sections that all have their own distinct personality. You’ll also get a chance to show your virtuosity, because certain passages in this piece really move!
Donald E. Matthews: “And Winter Ends…”
(MSHSAA #: 9139 | Buy online at JW Pepper)
Why You’ll Love It: The publisher’s description says that “this lyric work celebrates the coming of spring with flowing lines and a sense of expectation” – which is enough to make me want to play it! The harmonies are intriguing and the melody alternates between sustained passages and quick notes. It’s almost as though you hear the ice melting and the world gingerly waking up.
Charles E. Bley: Los pájaros cantores (Songbirds)
(MSHSAA #: 4691 | Buy online at JW Pepper)
Why You’ll Love It: As flutists, it seems we’re always imitating birds! This piece is bright and cheerful – sure to put a smile on your face.
A small disclaimer: While I’ve done my best to be accurate here, please remember MSHSAA is the expert on its own festival and might update their rules at any time. So be sure to check their website and verify your plan with your band teacher!