Master composer to be celebrated in Fresno as FPU hosts David Maslanka April 26-28

By wayne.steffen on April 20, 2017 @ 3:20pm

A composer considered the wind band’s Beethoven will work with area public school music educators, high school and university students and be honored by a concert of his works during a visit to Fresno April 26-28, 2017, hosted by Fresno Pacific University.

David Maslanka, D.M.A., took brass, woodwind and percussion ensembles forever beyond the boundaries of marches and half-time shows with the premier of “A Child’s Garden of Dreams” in 1982. “Basically, overnight he changed the scene,” said Erik Leung, D.M.A., FPU assistant professor of music and director of bands.

“He was one of the first composers who set the wind band and wind ensemble apart,” Leung added. “As my teacher, Gillian Mackay (professor of music at the University of Toronto), says, ‘He’s like our Beethoven.’”

Highlights of the visit include:

  • A “Maslanka Celebration” concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 28, in Butler Church, 4884 E. Butler Ave., Fresno. Ensembles will be the FPU Symphonic Band, No Strings Attached Wind Quintet and the Perfect Fourths Saxophone Quartet. Admission is $10 for general audiences, payable at the door.

  • A clinic with the Clovis High School Band in the CHS band room, 1055 Fowler Ave., Clovis.

  • A rehearsal with the Clovis West High School Wind Symphony at 12:30 p.m. April 28 in Butler Church.

Among Maslanka’s 150-plus works are more than 50 for wind ensemble, including eight symphonies, 17 concertos, five saxophone quartets, four wind quintets, a mass and many concert pieces. His compositions have been published by Carl Fischer and other firms and recorded on labels such as Naxos, the world’s largest independent classical label.

Maslanka served on the faculties of the State University of New York at Geneseo, Sarah Lawrence College, New York University and Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York before becoming a full-time freelance composer in 1990. He now lives in Missoula, MT.

Born in New Bedford, MA, Maslanka earned his bachelor’s degree from the Oberlin College Conservatory, spent a year at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and finished his master’s and doctorate at Michigan State University. Among his composing awards are three from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Getting the master to Fresno took a mix of hopefulness and coincidence. In the fall, Leung; Allan Durst, D.M.A, who leads the FPU Jazz Band; and Audra Loveland, in charge of No Strings Attached, had each decided independently to have their ensembles play a Maslanka piece this year. “We came up with this crazy suggestion—why don’t we invite him?” said Leung, who is acquainted with the composer. Schedules aligned, and “we’re pinching ourselves,” Leung added. “This is a very big deal.”

For more information, contact Erik Leung at 559-453-2029 or erik.leung@fresno.edu or Judy Cockerham at 55-453-2267 or judy.cockerham@fresno.edu.