Women of Music

Bella’s Groove (composition)

Having started out life as a short trumpet trio, Bella’s Groove was expanded and transformed into a full-band piece to feature the youngest member of the Delano Community Band, percussionist Isabella Coccolutto.

Polly Oliver (composition)

This English folk song tells the tale of a young woman who dresses as a male soldier to follow her true love off to war. This arrangement by Minnesota native Thomas Root is in the DCB library.

Michelle, Eleanor Rigby, Yesterday (composition)

[This recording was made during a concert by an ensemble from the Conservatorio José Guadalupe Velázquez. An audience member (not the school) recorded it, likely with a mobile phone. It’s obvious the microphone used was optimized for voice and did not have a very wide frequency response. Thus, the recording came out way over-modulated (especially in the loud sections) with too much emphasis on the mid- and higher frequencies (above c. 500 Hertz). I did what I could given the time I had. Here’s a link to the original for comparison: https://youtu.be/rh9wepOkJQI]

Shelley HansonEl Gato Montés (The Wildcat)

Shelley Hanson, a Twin Cities composer, arranger, teacher, and professional musician, has an affinity for writing and performing folk music. She teaches at Macalester College and leads the group Klezmer and All That Jazz. Klezmer and All That Jazz recorded traditional and her original music for the award-winning audio book version of the classic Yiddish folk tale The Dybbuk.

Principal clarinetist of the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra, she has recorded orchestral and chamber music for Virgin Records, Teldec, Innova, and others, and was a soloist for the soundtrack of the feature film Out of the Wilderness. She is the founding director of the Macalester College Wind Ensemble (St. Paul, Minn).

Her compositions have been performed on every continent except Antarctica. As a conductor, record producer, and clarinetist, she has performed as a soloist with many ensembles: the Minnesota Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, the Las Vegas Philharmonic, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the U.S. Air Force Band, among others.

Dr. Hanson received her Ph.D. in performance, music theory, and music literature from Michigan State University, and has conducted university orchestras and wind ensembles as a faculty member of several universities. She is also on the artistic staff of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies.

El Gato Montés (The Wildcat) – From Manuel Penella’s 1916 opera El Gato Montés (The Wildcat): a matador sings exuberantly to his beloved young gypsy woman that he will fight the bulls for her.

Anne McGinty – (composer)

This contemporary American composer is one of the most prolific female wind band composers, having composed over 200 published works ranging from beginning band to string orchestra to flute ensemble pieces. Her work is lauded as being both entertaining as well as highly educational. Notably, McGinty was the first female composer commissioned to write an original work for the United States Army Band.

She is a life member of the National Flute Association and served on it’s Board of Directors. She taught flute at several colleges in the Mid-West, taught flute and chamber music to underprivileged children and was leader of a Royal American Regiment Fife and Drum Corps. She also was the editor of a flute column for a music magazine and co-founder of the NFA Newsletter, now known as “The Flutists’ Quarterly”.

Although no longer performing as a flutist, Ms. McGinty remains well known as a flute choir specialist and was the first person to convince two major educational music publishers to publish a series for flute choir. She has composed and arranged music for solo flute, flute with piano accompaniment, flute duets, trios and quartets, as well as flute choirs.

She has received annual composition awards since 1986. She received the Golden Rose Award from the Women Band Directors National Association and the Outstanding Service to Music Award from Tau Beta Sigma, a national honorary band sorority. She is listed in Who’s Who of American Women and the International Who’s Who in Music.

Her interests include weight lifting, reading murder mysteries, learning to play the bagpipes and nurturing her two cats, Starz and Stripes.

The Red Balloon

  • The Red Balloon – An original composition based on a painting the composer saw just once. The painting showed a small child and a grandfather, facing away. The two people and the background were done in white on white. The only color in the painting was the red balloon, held by the child. The music depicts the balloon floating in air. (This composition is in the Delano school music library.)


Highlights from Wicked (composition)

The musical Wicked by Stephen Schwartz (book by Winnie Holzman), is based on the Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (published in 1995). Maguire’s story is itself a retelling of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. and the 1939 MGM movie, The Wizard of Oz. It tells the story of what happened in the Land of Oz, but from a different angle:

A young woman with emerald green skin is smart, fiery, and misunderstood. She possesses extraordinary talent. She meets a bubbly blonde who is exceptionally popular. Their rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships…until the world decides to call one Good and the other Wicked. (This arrangement is in the Delano school music library.)

Richard WagnerRide of the Valkyries

The prelude to Act III of Wagner’s Die Walküre is better known for its use in the movie, Apocalypse Now, than as a piece of music written about women. As the introduction to the third act, The Ride of the Valkyries – as the prelude has become known – starts with the Valkyries (warrior maidens raised by the god Wotan) riding back from battle before they gather on a mountaintop. Die Walküre is the second of four music dramas that make up Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.

John Philip SousaThe Fairest of the Fair

“The Fairest of the Fair” is generally regarded as one of Sousa’s finest and most melodic marches, and its inspirations came from the sight of a pretty girl with whom he was not even acquainted. It stands out as one of the finest examples of the application of  pleasing melodies to the restrictive framework of a military march.

The Boston Food Fair was an annual exposition and music jubilee held by the Boston Retail Grocers’ Association. As the Sousa Band was the main musical attraction for several seasons, the creation of a new march honoring the sponsors of the 1908 Boston Food Fair was a natural outgrowth of a pleasant business relationship.

In fairs before 1908, Sousa had been impressed by the beauty and charm of one particular young lady who was the center of attention of the displays in which she was employed. He made a mental note that he would someday transfer his impressions of her into music. When the invitation came for the Sousa Band to play a twenty-day engagement in 1908, he wrote this march. Remembering the comely girl, he entitled the new march “The Fairest of the Fair.” (This original Sousa version is in the DCB library.)

Other music for or about women

Georges BizetGypsy Dance (from Carmen)

The opera Carmen is set in southern Spain and tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery gypsy Carmen. José abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts from his military duties, yet loses Carmen’s love to the glamorous torero Escamillo, after which José kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of proletarian life, immorality, and lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage, broke new ground in French opera and were highly controversial.

The Gypsy Dance occurs in Act 2 of the opera. This arrangement is in the Delano school music library.

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov – Procession of the Nobles (from Mlada)

Mlada. Written between 1889 and 1890, Mlada is a story of ancient pagan Slavs in which the title character is killed in the first act, but she haunts the characters through-out the opera-ballet. The most-often performed piece of music from the opera is Procession of the Nobles, which occurs in Act Two, Scene 3.

Prince Yaromir’s fiancée, Mlada, has been poisoned by a neighboring prince, Mstivoy, so that his daughter Voyslava may marry Yaromir instead, thus uniting the two realms. Voyslava asks the goddess of darkness, Morena,  to make Yaromir forget his first love. A festival follows with guests from other countries, including Lumir, a Czech, Representative national dances take place. Mlada’s ghost rescues Yaromir from the unwelcome attentions of Voyslava. On a mountain during a witches’ sabbath, various attempts are made to seduce Yaromir, but Mlada protects him from all of them, including a vision of Cleopatra. Yaromir now appeals to the sun god Radegast for advice, and the priest, Veglasniy, reveals Voyslava’s guilt. She confesses and begs for mercy, but Yaromir kills her and Morena appears to take her off to hell. She then conjures up a great storm which destroys the city and its inhabitants, uniting Yaromir and Mlada in death. (This arrangement is in the Delano school music library.)

Nurit HirshBa-Shanah ha-Ba’ah

Ba-Shanah ha-Ba’ah (Next Year)

One of Israel’s most prolific and diverse composers, Hirsh has written over 1,000 songs, scored over a dozen movies, and received wide recognition for her work: won the ACUM (Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers in Israel) life achievement award for songwriting (2001); the lifetime achievement award from Bar-Ilan University (2006); and the 2006 Woman of the Year award from Lions Club Israel. In March 2016, it was announced that Hirsh would receive the Israel Prize. In July, 2018, Nurit received the “Hallel v’Zimrah” award at the 29th North American Jewish Choral Festival. Her compositions have garnered her numerous awards internationally in Japan, Chile, France, Portugal, Brazil, and Israel. One of her most famous and widely known compositions is Ba-Shanah ha-Ba’ah (Next Year, lyrics by Ehud Manor). This arrangement is in the Delano school music library.

Richard WagnerElsa’s Procession to the Cathedral

Lohengrin is the story of Elsa, a princess in Brabant (now called Antwerp), who is rescued and wedded a by a knight in shining armor who insists on remaining nameless. Drama and tragedy ensue, ending with the death of several characters in typical Wagnerian fashion. Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral comes at the end of Act II, when Elsa is on her way to be married to the knight, who we later learn is Lohengrin, knight of the Holy Grail. Even in its original form, this section is almost a band piece, dominated by winds and percussion. It has become a staple of the band repertoire as a standalone piece. (This arrangement is in the Delano school music library.)

Ludwig van BeethovenMoonlight Sonata

Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was dedicated to the countess Giulietta Guicciardi. An almost-perfect piece to program since 2020 is also the 250th anniversary year of Beethoven’s birth. The challenge is finding a musically-decent concert band arrangement of it! Two examples of what’s currently available:

Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven, arranged by Andrew F. Poor

Moonlight Marimba by Ludwig van Beethoven, arranged by Larry Daehn

Gioachino Rossini Overture to L’italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers)

Rossini’s comedy about a woman determined to save her lover from a cruel fate. Composed in 1813 and based on a libretto by Angelo Anelli written in 1808, L’italiana has really progressive views on women at a time when they had very little rights or independence. It’s a feminist celebration written by two 19th-century men that easily translates to the 21st-century. The overture is well-known among concert bands.

Giuseppe Verdi – Triumphal March from Aida

Aida. A story of love and betrayal against the backdrop of war. An Egyptian princess (Amneris) is jealous of the love her slave (Aida – an Ethiopian princess) has for an Egyptian military leader (Radames). One of the more popular concert band arrangements from the opera is the Triumphal March.

Jerry Herman – Hello Dolly

The 1964 musical based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce “The Merchant of Yonkers,” tells the story of a strong-willed matchmaker who travels to Yonkers, New York to find a match for the miserly “well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder. The title song was once almost universally recognized in the US. This particular arrangement is for concert band with full rhythm section.

Julie GirouxOpa!

Julie Giroux studied composition with John Williams, Bill Conti and Jerry Goldsmith, to name a few. An accomplished performer on piano and horn, her first love is composition. In 1985, she began composing, orchestrating, and conducting music for television and films. Within three hours after arriving in Los Angeles, she was at work on the music for the Emmy Award winning mini-series North and South, followed soon by work on the television series Dynasty and The Colbys, as well as the films Karate Kid II, White Men Can’t Jump, and Broadcast News. She received her first Emmy nomination in 1988 for North and South Part II – Love and War, and over the next three years was nominated each year for her arranging and original compositions for the Academy Awards show. To date, Julie has well over 100 film and television credits and has been nominated for an Emmy several times. When she won her first Emmy Award, she was the first woman and the youngest person ever to win the award in that category. Julie has also been privileged to arrange for Celene Dion, Paula Abdul, Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, Madonna, Reba McIntyre, Little Richard, Billy Crystal, Michael Jackson and many others.

She began writing music for concert band in 1983. Since that time, she has composed and published numerous works for professional wind ensembles, military bands, colleges and public schools and has conducted her music in clinics worldwide.

Opa! opens with a Greek prayer followed by a high energy, fun, dance conclusion. The music gradually increases in excitement and tempo ending in a frenetic explosion best described as a love of life the people of Greece continuously display in their food, reveling and music.

Other music by Shelley Hanson

Albanian DanceShota in the Kosovar dialect is the name for a wild duck (Anas platyrhynchos). It is short for Vallja e shotës, a dance and tune of the Albanian people from Kosovo. It is an idyllic dance for a girl and a boy, showing their interest in each other. At first the girl is teasing the boy; then the boy acts as though he is not interested in her; but in the end, the boy receives the scarf of the girl showing her love for him. Sometimes, the girl receives the scarf of the boy in return.

Volver a la Montaña (Return to the Mountain) – The second movement of the four-movement suite, Islas y Montañas, is based on folk tunes of the Quechua (Inca) people of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

Seis Mañuel – Popular with concert bands, this is part three of the four-movement suite, Islas y Montañas. The seis is the traditional song and dance form of the Jibaro people, the peasant farmers of the mountains of Puerto Rico. The movement Seis Manuel is based on a traditional recurring harmonic pattern called the seis mapeye over which a singer improvises a melody. In keeping with the Puerto Rican tradition of naming a seis after someone important to its creation, this seis was re-named in honor of conductor Manny Laureano (Principal Trumpet, Minnesota Orchestra), who commissioned and premiered the piece.

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