New Beginnings A Collaborative Concert featuring the GSU Campus Orchestra and Concert Band

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

5 P.M.

Rialto Center for the Arts

Opening Night

Brian Balmages (b. 1975)

T. Devin Reid, conductor

When Tracey Filben approached me with the idea of writing a piece for band and orchestra in memory of her student Jim Gracey, she made a few things abundantly clear. They did not want the piece to be somber; rather, they wanted it to be more of a celebration of life. She told me that Jim was quite the character and was full of life. In addition to playing clarinet and viola, he had a strong affinity for the stage and loved musicals. He was certainly a bright light with a glowing personality.

In thinking about all of this, it became clear to me what direction this piece would go. I decided that this would be the overture to a yet-to-be-written musical, one that Jim would be starring in. It is exciting, full of life, and highly rhythmic and energetic. In addition, there are specific nods to Jim’s instruments, clarinet and viola. I view this as the ultimate celebration: when the curtain comes up, the spotlight turns on, and the magic begins as the show finally reaches its “opening night.”

The piece is dedicated to the John Marshall High School Band and Orchestra, Jim Gracey, and his family. May this be one of countless opening nights as the piece continues to receive performances all around the country and the world.

-Program Note by the composer


from Samson and Delilah

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) / Arr. Merle J. Isaac

Stephanie Morera Cordoba, graduate assistant conductor

French composer Camille Saint-Saëns lived a long life and enjoyed a long career. His operatic masterpiece Samson et Dalila was first staged in 1877. You know the plot if you’re up on your Bible, or if you’ve seen Cecil B. DeMille’s 1950 epic film Samson and Delilah. Saint-Saëns’s opera adheres to the original story. Samson is the would-be liberator of the Israelites from the snares of the evil Philistines. The beautiful Philistine maiden Dalila, rejected by Samson, has sworn vengeance on him. She discovers that the secret of Samson’s power lies in his hair (celebrities ever after would note this) and manages to practice her barbering skills on him, rendering him helpless. He is blinded and put on display in the Philistine temple. His prayer for one last surge of strength is granted and he dislodges the temple pillars, bringing the roof down on the godless crowd.

Moments earlier that crowd, now silent, had gathered to witness Samson’s humiliation and had delighted in the Bacchanale. Taking its name from Bacchus, mythological god of wine and fertility, a bacchanale is a dance that puts a premium on sensuality and abandon. Saint-Saëns’s Bacchnale opens with a twisting melody that could charm a snake from its basket. This is followed by a passage that begins as though it might have come from a nineteenth-century Parisian dance hall. These elements alternate until the appearance of a lovely tune, full of longing; but the music hall and snake-charmer music have the final words.

- Program Note by the San Francisco Symphony

Themes from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Paul Dukas (1865-1935) / arr. Jim Higgins

Meeka Sivilay Smith, graduate assistant conductor

Dukas based The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on a poem that Goethe wrote one hundred years earlier, called Der Zauberlehrling. The poem tells of a sorcerer who can turn a broomstick into a real servant. The sorcerer’s apprentice overhears the magic formula and, one day when the old man is gone, tries it out. Sure enough, the broomstick does his bidding and starts bringing water from the nearby river to fill his bath. There is a problem. The apprentice does not know how to turn the magic off. As the water in the house begins to rise, the boy desperately axes the broom into pieces. Now, to his horror, each piece of the broom is bringing in the water. In the midst of the chaos, the sorcerer returns home. “Sir, my need is sore,” the apprentice cries. “Spirits that I've cited/My commands ignore.” The sorcerer says the magic word and restores order.

-Program Note by the Lansing Symphony Orchestra

Waltz from “The Sleeping Beauty”

Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) / arr. Merle Isaac

Tania Maxwell Clements, conductor

The Sleeping Beauty is a ballet in a prologue and three acts, first performed in 1890. The music was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (his opus 66). The score was completed in 1889, and is the second of his three ballets. The original scenario was conceived by Ivan Vsevolozhsky, and is based on Charles Perrault's La Belle au bois dormant. The premiere performance took place at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on January 15, 1890. The work has become one of the classical repertoire's most famous ballets.

-Program Note by the Roger Fiske

Bugler’s Holiday

Leroy Anderson (1908-1975)

Leonardo Barrios, Rex DiPietro & Douglas Escobar , graduate trumpet soloists

Tania Maxwell Clements, conductor

Bugler’s Holiday is one of the best-known pieces of band literature written by the band master Leroy Anderson (1908-1975). It was not until 1954 that Anderson again composed a piece featuring the trumpet. He wrote Bugler’s Holiday as a solo piece for three trumpets accompanied by a band. At that time, Anderson had his own ensemble that was recording for Decca Records. He hoped Bugler’s Holiday would become a hit, possibly helping the group surpass the success of their previous gold-record album released in 1951.

The solo trumpet parts in Bugler’s Holiday are written to imitate the sound of a bugle, a brass instrument without valves that is commonly used for military calls and fanfares. Anderson intended for the soloists to stand in front of the ensemble instead of sitting in seats among the band. Since the premiere of Bugler’s Holiday 60 years ago, the piece has remained a favorite among crowds and trumpet enthusiasts.

-Program Note Travis Bender


from Symphony No. 1 – “The Divine Comedy”

Robert W. Smith (1958-2023)

T. Devin Reid, conductor

The Divine Comedy is a four-movement work based on Dante Alighieri’s literary classic of the same name. The story of Dante’s trilogy is basic: One day Dante finds himself lost in a dark wood. Virgil, a character based on the revered Roman poet, appears, and rescues him. Virgil guides Dante to a contemplation of Hell and Purgatory. Dante, having confessed his faults, and with Beatrice as his guide, is led into Paradise and attains a glimpse of the face of God.

“Paradiso” is the final movement in the Divine Comedy. Dante ascended at an incredible speed from the top of the mountain of purgatory to the first sphere of the heavens (“The Ascension,” Mvt. III). He is enamored with the sight of light, growing brighter and more intense with each sphere. The composer has called upon the mallet percussion and piano to represent those beams of light. Beginning with a single tone (beam), the intensity grows with each entrance until we are surrounded by lights of multiple colors and complexities. As the light engulfs us, we are presented with eh sounds of joy, peace, love, and hope—growing even brighter as the journey through the spheres progresses.

Dante sees a river of light that is transformed into a great rose at whose center is the wonderful source of the lights. Upon the petals are seated the saints, clad in the whitest of robes. Angels fly, like swarms of bees, up from the heart of the rose to the petals, their faces of living flame, their wings of gold, and their bodies as white as the purest snow. Dante looks to the highest tier, where Mary sits enthroned, surrounded by a thousand joyful angels. Mary is surrounded by heroines of the Old Testament: Eve, Rachel, Sarah, Rebecca, Judith, and Ruth. On Mary’s opposite side are the male figures of the Christian era: John the Baptist, St. Francis, St. Benedict, and St. Augustine, as well as Adam, Peter, Moses, and John the Apostle. The lower tiers are filled with thousands of infants, purified in their glorious innocence.

With a gracious smile from the Virgin Mary, Dante is permitted the Beatific Vision. He lifts his eyes toward the heart of the rose. Within one blinding light, he recognizes three separate lights in the form of interlocking circles (a symbol of the Trinity). Within one circle he perceives the dim image of a human face, a reminder that God lives as man on earth.

-Program Note by the composer


Tania Maxwell Clements

Tania Maxwell Clements attained a BA in Music Performance (Viola) and a Certificate of Post-Graduate Studies (Viola Performance) from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she studied viola with James Durrant. During her studies at the RCS she won the prestigious Watson Forbes Prize for Viola Playing and the Viola Challenge Prize. Her studies continued in Switzerland at the International Menuhin Music Academy (IMMA) for two consecutive years, working intensively with Alberto Lysy and Johannes Eskar. During this time she performed regularly with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and artists such as Igor Oistrakh and Donald McInnes. She was principal viola and soloist with the Camerata Lysy and performed as soloist at the Menuhin Festival, Gstaad and at festivals in France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Wales.

Upon leaving the IMMA, Tania was invited to become a founding member of the Seville Symphony Orchestra (ROSS) in Spain and from there was invited to join the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in Manchester, England as Associate Principal Viola. Whilst working with the BBC, Tania also held the principal viola position with the Northern Symphony Orchestra and was invited to perform as guest principal with the Halle Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. During this time, she was also a founding member of the Wralle flute, viola and harp Trio and the Puligny String Quartet.

Over the years she has performed with many other orchestras including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Scottish Orchestra (formerly the SNO), the BP Scottish Ensemble, the Scottish Opera Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the East of England Orchestra and the Royal Festival Orchestra. She has played at some of the world’s most prestigious venues including Covent Garden and the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Philharmonie in Berlin, Boston’s Symphony Hall, New York’s Lincoln Center, La Scala Milan in Itay, the Musikverein in Vienna and Prague’s Dvorak Hall. After moving to Atlanta in 1998, she performed with the Atlanta Symphony, Charleston Symphony, Columbus Symphony, Savannah Philharmonic and Macon Symphony orchestras, the Atlanta Chamber Players, the Kopec String Quartet, Musica da Camera, the Lyra String Quartet, and the Vega Quartet.

Tania has a prolific recording career and appears on over one hundred CD’s (and hundreds more recordings) covering orchestral, solo and chamber repertoire. She is a strong supporter of new music for the viola and has personally commissioned many new works for her instrument. She also has a very active career playing and recording with many rock bands and other artists, such as The Who, Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, Natalie Cole, Common, and many Broadway artists.

Tania Maxwell Clements is also a master teacher. Before her distinguished career teaching at GSU, she taught orchestral techniques at Chethams School of Music (a Yehudi Menuhin School) and the Royal Northern College of Music in England and has also taught at the Junior Department of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

T. Devin Reid

T. Devin Reid is currently an active musician and educator throughout the southeast. A native of Fayetteville, NC, Mr. Reid is a 2005 recipient of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Scholarship. He holds a Master of Music in Wind Band Conducting from Georgia State University and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Mr. Reid serves as the Assistant Director of Bands and Undergraduate Director at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA. In this capacity he co-teaches the Panther Marching Band, conducts the Basketball Band, conducts the University Concert Band, teaches undergraduate and graduate level conducting and band literature courses, and supervises student teachers in the field among other duties and courses. Since his arrival, the GSU Concert Band has grown to become the largest instrumental concert ensemble at the university. With Mr. Reid’s direction, the GSU Panther Band performed in 2019 as part of the Pepsi Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show, been accepted as a CBDNA Southern Region top marching band in 2020, and performed in the 2022 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA. Preceding to his appointment at Georgia State, Mr. Reid taught public school in Georgia and North Carolina and served as Graduate Assistant for the Georgia State University Bands. While teaching at James Kenan High School (NC), Mr. Reid grew the program from 0% to 10% of the school population in just three years. His ensembles performed at numerous events in and out of the community including the NC Muscadine Festival, NC PAS Day of Percussion and the Virginia International Music Festival.

Mr. Reid has presented clinics and workshops at the North Carolina Music Educators Conference, Georgia Music Educators Conference, Tennessee Music Educators Conference, South Carolina Music Educators Conference, Florida Music Educators Conference, American String Teachers Association National Conference and the Georgia State University Bands of Distinction Honor Clinic. He is a recurrent guest conductor at the International Euphonium and Tuba Festival. He is also an active concert band and marching band clinician and adjudicator throughout Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina.

As a performer, Mr. Reid is an actively sought-after musician. He was the percussionist for the popular brass quintet and Delos recording artist “Da Capo Brass”. Their debut album “From The Beginning” stormed the iTunes classical charts at #8 in January 2012. He has also been a member of the regionally acclaimed bluegrass band, “T.R. and the Boys” as baritone vocalist and mandolin player. They have three releases, and their most recent album; “Lonesome” features one of his original songs as the title track. He is a member of the National Association for Music Education, College Band Directors National Association and is an endorser for Sabian Cymbals.

Mr. Reid is happily married to his beautiful wife Amy and they reside in Powder Springs, GA with their daughter Katelynn and son Ethan.

Stephanie Morera Cordoba

Stephanie Morera Cordoba is a Costa Rican conductor who is currently studying in the USA. She is the Georgia Philharmonic’s inaugural conducting fellow and will serve as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Assistant Conductor in several family concerts this season. She attends Georgia State University where she serves as Assistant Conductor for the GSU Symphony Orchestra and works with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra of Atlanta.

Stephanie has already had a versatile career. She was the first Costa Rican woman to conduct an opera in Costa Rica. From 2022 - 2023, she conducted seven concerts with the Orquesta de Costa Rica, featuring genres such as pop, rock, blues, jazz, soundtracks, and videogames music. She is especially passionate about programming Latin symphonic music.

She conducted the premiere of “Oratorio Participativo por la Autonomía Universitaria” by the world-renowned composer Mario Alfagüel. She also conducted University of Costa Rica’s Campus Orchestra “Humanidades” premiering works by celebrated Costa Rican composers, Rocío Sans and Willam Porras.

A passionate music educator, she has been invited to guest conduct high school orchestras as well as productions of the University of Costa Rica Symphonic Orchestra and opera program. Comfortable on stage in many capacities, Stephanie served as both Conductor and actress in a Family Concert. She also works with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra of Atlanta, and the GSU Campus Orchestra.

Stephanie is a well-versed musician who grew up performing the violin. When she was 20, she performed at the internationally acclaimed Nezahualcoyotl Music Hall in Mexico and the Rubén Darío National Theatre in Nicaragua. Stephanie has two Bachelor's degrees for which she earned merit scholarships - she earned a Bachelor in Music Education from National University of Costa Rica and a Bachelor of Music in Conducting from the University of Costa Rica. During her undergraduate years, she gained versatile experiences conducting choirs, orchestras, symphonic bands, and guitar orchestras.

Meeka Sivilay Smith

Meeka Sivilay Smith is currently pursuing the Master of Music in Wind Band Conducting degree at Georgia State University under the guidance of Robert J. Ambrose. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the University Bands, she conducts and coaches a variety of ensembles, assists with undergraduate conducting instruction, and supports the operations of a large, comprehensive band program.

Prior to her move to Georgia, Ms. Sivilay served as a band director in the Mountain Home (AR) School District, where she conducted the junior high band, taught beginning woodwind classes and assisted with all aspects of the high school band program. Along with her official duties, she assisted with the guard programs and trained marching band student conductors.

Meeka graduated Cum Laude from Arkansas Tech University with the Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education. Her primary teachers were Dan Belongia and Karen Futterer. During her tenure at Arkansas Tech, Meeka served as a student conductor for various ensembles, was as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant, and served on local and district-wide executive boards of the Tau Beta Sigma music fraternity.

Douglas Escobar (L), Leonardo Barrios (C), Rex DiPietro (R)

Douglas Escobar is a Honduran born and raised trumpet player who started music at the age of 14. He earned his bachelor's degree from Columbus State University and is currently working on his second year of master's degree at Georgia State University

Leonardo Barrios is a Colombian trumpet player, who began his path in music at the age of 16. He was part of the Chia symphonic band that won second place at the World Music Competition (WMC) in Kerkrade Netherlands in 2014. He obtained his bachelor's degree from the Pontifical Xaverian University in Colombia and is currently working on his second year of master's degree at Georgia State University

Rex DiPietro is native to Georgia, from Canton, and began studying the trumpet at the age of 8 years old. He graduated in 2023 from Young Harris College with a BA in Music with concentrations in both Trumpet and Piano. He is now in his first year at GSU pursuing a Master's in Orchestral Trumpet Performance.