- Fascinating Ribbons, for wind ensemble
- Helix, for tuba & wind ensemble
- Partita for wind ensemble
- As The Scent Of Spring Rain, for wind ensemble
- Ritmo Jondo (chamber version for percussion, hand-clappers, clarinet & trumpet)
- Las Campanas, for wind ensemble
- Fandangos, fantasy for orchestra
Fascinating Ribbons is both the title of an excellent work for symphonic band and an equally fascinating disc from Summit Records featuring the University of New Mexico Wind Symphony under Eric Rombach-Kendall. It features seven works, including four recording premieres, with Joan Tower's tight, exciting, and colorful band work "Fascinating Ribbons" (2001) leading off the program. Symphonic band programs like these are always a great way to get to know the works of composers you've never heard. Other than Tower, the living composers presented are Stephen Gryc, who was educated at the University of Michigan and teaches at Hart College; Jonathan Newman, who is a member of the composer's collective BCM International and Roberto Sierra, who needs no introduction to those even moderately interested in contemporary music. Sierra's work "Fandangos" (2001) is a blast; one is tempted to describe it as "Soler on steroids," but it contains so many other elements: wry, tongue-in-cheek quotations, free-form freak outs, and a seemingly endless variety of instrumental colors. Newman's "As the Scent of Spring Rain..." (2003) is a beautiful and visionary piece that easily could have gone longer than its concise five-minute length without doing any harm. Of the more historically oriented pieces on Fascinating Ribbons, the standout is the vibrant and lively music of Carlos Surinach; "Ritmo Jondo" (1952) is just the right mix of folk motifs, exotic, and the elements of surprise and challenge. It also betrays an interest in the music of Kurt Weill, something you wouldn't readily associate with Surinach, who didn't arrive in New York until 1951, but Weill's invisible presence would have thoroughly permeated the atmosphere of the social circles in which he was circulating. USC's Robert Linn, who was a student of Ingolf Dahl, is represented by "Partita" (1980), an enjoyable seven minutes spent mostly in pleasant, jazzy secundal harmony, though the piece as a whole seems a little off-balance, in A-B-A form with an overripe B section. Warren Benson's "Helix" (1966) features tuba soloist Sam Pilafian, who is a living legend among tuba players and potentially a good catch for a project such as this one. Pilafian sounds great, but Benson's piece hasn't held up very well and seems rather trite overall; it is the weakest entry on the disc. One thing Fascinating Ribbons establishes without question is that they have one heck of a good symphonic band down there at the University of New Mexico. However, Fascinating Ribbons goes beyond that in providing a little insight into music the second half of the twentieth century and the first years of the twenty first.