Luther: in Canon


For concert wind band.

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(Hersey High School – Mike Fansler, conductor)



Luther: In Canon was commissioned by a consortium of wind bands at the collegiate, high school, and professional levels to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. 

For concert band
Duration: 6 minutes. 

piccolo, 3 flutes, 2 oboes, english horn, 2 bassoons (cross-cued where needed) Eb clarinet (opt but preferred), 3 Bb clarinets, bass clarinet soprano (cross-cued where needed), alto, tenor, baritone saxophones 4 horns, 3 Bb trumpets, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone
euphonium (2 players), tuba harp
(may use piano as substitute), double bass (cross-cued where needed) timpani + percussion (6 players) [Perc 6 cued in other parts, in case of player shortage] 

Chimes, Vibes, Marimba (5-octave), Orch Bells, Xylophone Cymbals: Sus Cymb, Cymb a2, Splash Cymb TamTam, Triangle, Tambourine, Wood Block Snare Drum, Bass Drum, 2 mid-Toms 

Program notes — from the composer:

When approached by Bill Perrine (lead consortium member) to compose a 2nd work in honor of the Lutheran 500th anniversary (the other being “this is most certainly true”, commissioned by another consortium led by Jim Ripley), I agreed immediately.
I knew that I had more to say about the subject, and given that the aforementioned was an introspective, somewhat tortured work, I felt I could add some uplifting nature to the celebration as well.

I will confess that he inspiration for “Luther: in Canon” comes directly from the finale of Holst’s 2nd suite for band (IV. “Fantasia on the Dargason”). Like so many others, I have always loved his compositional process of opening with the canonic figure, only to reveal the true hymn later in the work. And so – in “Luther: in Canon“, I do the same. The process of coming up with unique sounds, colors, harmonies and rhythms to accompany the canon is both daunting and exciting, especially since there are already so many settings of Luther’s most famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress” (Ein feste Burg). It is the surprise textures that give me the most pleasure, as composer, and therefore, hopefully the players and audience as well.

I tried to give most everyone a shot at the canonic material. I also scored the wood block quite liberally, hoping to use it as a tool to symbolize the hammering of the 95 theses, but also, in conjunction with other percussion, to give the work a bit of a busy nature, so as to suggest that though the Lutheran practice has been around now for 500 years, there is, and always will be, work to be done.

Lastly – the title. I had decided to write the work in canon long before deciding a title. The title actually came last.
It occurred to me that the obvious pun (“Lutheran canon”) might not be so bad, given that “canon” has both liturgical and musical meanings. I hope others take it in the spirit is intended, and don’t find the word-play at all demeaning to the seriousness of the celebration of 500 years!

Jim Stephenson, June 29, 2017

I would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to those who participated in bringing this consortium together:

Lead Commissioner
Dr. William M. Perrine, Concordia University Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor MI Consortium Members 

Dr. Patrick Carney, Limestone College, Gaffney SC
Dr. Rod Chesnutt, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers FL
Dr. Charles Conrad, Indiana Wind Symphony, Carmel IN
Mr. Michael Flanagin and Dr. Chris Lessly, Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion IN Mr. Adam Friedrich, Concordia Lutheran High School, Ft. Wayne IN
Mr. Nick Harding, Christ our Rock Lutheran High School, Centralia IN
Dr. Guy Holliday, California Baptist University, Riverside CA
Mr. David A. Leach, Pioneer High School, Ann Arbor MI
Mrs. Lindsay Mueller, Valley Lutheran High School, Saginaw MI
Mr. Jeff Seighman and Eddie Hirst, Walker High School, Walker LA

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