Concert Programs

USC Thornton Winds: Emblems concert program

March 29, 2024
7:30 p.m.

The USC Thornton Winds are led by guest conductor Gary W. Hill in an evening performance.
Gary W. Hill is one of the most sought after guest conductors and clinicians in the instrumental music education field. He is a Professor Emeritus of Music and Director of Bands at Arizona State University.
The program features “Energetically” from Chen Yi’s Dragon Rhymes, Le Bal de Béatrice d’Este by Reynaldo Hahn, Vivid Dreams by Catherine Likhuta, Emblems by Aaron Copland and Kevin Day’s Concerto for Wind Ensemble.


“Energetically” from Dragon Rhyme

Chen Yi
(b. 1953)

Le Bal de Béatrice d’Este
I. “Entrée pour Ludovic le More”
II. “Lesquercade”
III. “Romanesque”
IV. “Iberienne”
V. “Léda et l’oiseau”
VI. “Courante”
VII. “Salut final au Duc de Milan”

Reynaldo Hahn

Vivid Dreams
I. “Cradle in the Forest”
II. “Octopus”
III. “Urban Secrets”
Kira Goya, french horn

Catherine Likhuta
(b. 1981)


Aaron Copland

Concerto for Wind Ensemble
I. “Flow”
II. “Riff”
III. “Vibe”
IV. “Soul”
V. “Jam”

Kevin Day
(b. 1996)

Program Notes

“Energetically” from Dragon Rhyme
Chen Yi
Dragon Rhyme is in two movements: I. “Mysteriously–Harmoniously,” and II. “Energetically.”
The first movement is lyrical, and the second powerful. Featuring the basic intervals found in Beijing Opera, the thematic material in both movements is matched, and used economically for development throughout the work. The instrumental texture is rich in colors, from transparent and delicate to angular and strong. Taking the image of the dragon, which is auspicious, fresh, and vivid, the music is layered and multidimensional, symbolizing Eastern culture; when it meets the world, it becomes a part of the global family. Commissioned by the National Wind Ensemble Consortium Group, Dragon Rhyme was premiered by the Hartt Wind Ensemble at Carnegie Hall.
-Chen Yi
Le Bal de Béatrice d’Este
Reynaldo Hahn
Although today Reynaldo Hahn is mostly remembered for only a few of his more than one hundred vocal compositions (melodies), in his day he was recognized for his contribution to opera, operetta, concertos, quartets, ballet, and piano pieces. He had an enormous influence as the director of the Paris Opéra, conductor at the Salzburg Festival, and music critic for le Figaro. His contribution to wind chamber music comes in the ballet suite Le Bal de Béatrice d’Este. Le Bal has become an increasingly popular work ever since its premiere in 1905. It was written for two flutes, oboe, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, trumpet, piano, two harps, and percussion. Le Bal was commissioned by the prominent French flutist, Georges Barrére and premiered on March 28th, 1905 at the Salle des Agriculteurs by the Societé Moderne d’Instruments a Vent with Hahn conducting from the piano. Today, Le Bal is performed in both collegiate wind band and professional orchestral settings and is considered by many to be standard repertoire for the wind chamber music ensemble.
The title comes from Béatrice of the house of Este, one of the most loved of the princesses from the Italian Renaissance. She lived a short life, from 1475-1497. She married Ludovico Sforza in 1491 when she was sixteen years old and became the duchess of Milan. Ludovico Sforza’s original name, Lodovicus Maurus, is the source of his nickname “Il Moro” and the source of the title of the first movement. The Duke was a great supporter of the arts and was known for having a keen intellect and discerning artistic tastes. He employed many artists, most notably Leonardo Da Vinci, and it is during this time at the Milanese court that Da Vinci created some of his best work, including the fresco of the last supper and a portrait of Béatrice d’Este which he presented to Béatrice as a wedding gift. In Le Bal de Béatrice d’Este, Reynaldo Hahn chose to evoke an evening in the palazzo of this Italian noblewoman. Each one of the movements was meant to represent either a character from the court, or one of the Renaissance dance forms.
-Jared Chase
Vivid Dreams
Catherine Likhuta
Vivid Dreams was originally written for low horn and piano, commissioned by low horn virtuoso Denise Tryon. A year later, this concerto version for low horn soloist and wind ensemble was created.
When writing Vivid Dreams, I decided to highlight he horn’s unique storytelling abilities and to musically depict three stories:
“Cradle in the Forest”
“Urban Secrets”
The cycle opens with the solo horn prologue, as if inviting the audience to listen to the stories about to be told. “Cradle in the Forest” is a creepy lullaby-gone-wrong, with some unexpected turns. “Octopus takes” us on a short journey into the strange world of this fascinating creature, through the 8-note enigmatic ostinato. Finally, “Urban Secrets” is a brisk walk through hidden alleys of a busy city (such as New York, Chicago or Melbourne). There is a moment in this movement where, amongst all the surrounding busyness, one stops for a minute to peek through a window of a dance studio, where couples are dancing waltz. Then it is back to the noisy city life.
-Catherine Likhuta
Aaron Copland
In May, 1963, I received a letter from Keith Wilson, President of the College Band Directors National Association, asking me to accept a commission from that organization to compose a work for band. He wrote: “The purpose of this commission is to enrich the band repertory with music that is representative of the composer’s best work, and not one written with all sorts of technical or practical limitations.” That was the origin of Emblems. I began work on the piece in the summer of 1964 and completed it in November of that year. It was first played at the CBDNA National Convention in Tempe, Arizona, on December 18, 1964, by the Trojan Band of the University of Southern California, conducted by William A. Schaefer.
Keeping Mr. Wilson’s injunction in mind, I wanted to write a work that was challenging to young players without overstraining their technical abilities. The work is tripartite in form: slow-fast-slow, with the return of the first part varied. Embedded in the quiet, slow music the listener may hear a brief quotation of a well-known hymn tune “Amazing Grace”, published by William Walker in The Southern Harmony in 1835. Curiously enough, the accompanying harmonies had been conceived first, without reference to any tune. It was only a chance of perusal of a recent anthology of old Music in America that made me realize a connection existed between my harmonies and the old hymn tune.
An emblem stands for something – it is a symbol. I called the work Emblems because it seemed to me to suggest musical states of being: noble or aspirational feelings, playful or spirited feelings. The exact nature of these emblematic sounds must be determined for himself by each listener.
-Aaron Copland
Concerto for Wind Ensemble
Kevin Day
After several fruitful conversations with Dr. Cynthia Johnston Turner, Director of Bands at the University of Georgia, the concept for the Concerto for Wind Ensemble began to take form. We had talked about doing a potential commission for the UGA Hodgson Wind Ensemble, and ultimately the conversation led to the idea of doing a substantial work to further the wind band repertoire. I knew off that bat that I wanted to write something that reflected my upbringing as a young black man and the musical culture that I grew up in, which hasn’t always been represented in concert band music.
My experience and the inspiration for this work come from a world of various intersections. My father, born in West Virginia, was a hip-hop producer in the late 1980s who worked in Southern California, and my mother (also from West Virginia) was a gospel singer. During my childhood, I grew up listening to hip-hop, R&B, jazz, and gospel music, while simultaneously, I was learning classical music through playing in band, and later orchestra. I was playing jazz & gospel music on piano, while also playing classical music on euphonium and tuba. This dual learning environment had a huge impact on my musicianship and my development as a composer. While these worlds had been separated in my head when I was growing up, in this work I intentionally wanted to merge them together in new fusions, paying homage to my parents, the culture I grew up in, and to the wind band world.
What came from this concept is this Concerto for Wind Ensemble, a five-movement work for band that is my most ambitious composition to date, and a work that took almost two years to compose. The movements entitled “Flow,” “Riff,” “Vibe,” “Soul,” and “Jam” reflect the various musical styles that I have been immersed in. “Vibe” and “Soul” are specifically dedicated to my parents, without whom I could not have made it this far. I am immensely grateful to Dr. Turner and to the consortium members of this work, who believed in my vision and sought to bring this work to life.
I’m happy to share this contribution and love letter to the wind band and to the culture.
-Kevin Day

About the Artists

Gary W. Hill
Conductor Gary W. Hill
Gary W. Hill — Professor of Music and Director of Bands, Emeritus, at Arizona State University, where he taught from 1999-2019 — is one of the most sought-after guest conductors and clinicians in the wind band field. As a conductor, appearances in more than a dozen countries and throughout the United States have included performances with many professional ensembles, numerous college and university wind bands and orchestras, myriad high school and collegiate honor ensembles (including dozens of All-State bands), at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, and at World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles’ conferences. As a clinician, Hill has presented hundreds of workshops on conducting and rehearsal technique for music teachers of all levels and has worked with thousands of bands and orchestras and their teachers. Professor Hill is currently a Conn-Selmer Educational Clinician.
Prior to Hill’s appointment at ASU, he was Director of Bands at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music (1986-99), at Texas A&M University-Commerce (1982-86), and Associate Director of Bands at the University of Colorado, Boulder (1980-82). He also served as Founding Music Director for the Kansas City Youth Wind Ensemble and the conductor of newEar, a professional chamber ensemble devoted to contemporary music. Hill began his teaching career in Michigan, where he was Director of Bands for the Traverse City (1977-80) and West Bloomfield (1974-77) public schools.
High school, university, and professional ensembles under Hill’s direction have given performances for the National Band Association, the Music Educators National Conference (NAfME), the College Band Directors National Association, the American Bandmasters Association, the International Horn Symposium, the National Flute Association, at many state conventions, and throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Performances conducted by him have consistently drawn praise from composers, performing musicians, and critics alike for their insightful, inspired, and cohesive realizations, and for their imaginative programming.
During Professor Hill’s 39 years as a collegiate conducting teacher, he taught scores of undergraduate and graduate conducting students and served as the primary mentor for 55 MM & DMA wind band conducting majors, 8 who became conductors of US Armed Forces’ ensembles and other professional groups, and 44 who won university teaching positions.
Hill remains active as a guest conductor, teacher, and clinician, and continues to be involved with research concerning the exploration of biochemical reactions spawned by musical processes, the neurobiology of the art and craft of conducting, and the past, present, and future of instrumental music in schools. Additionally, he is a passionate lover of dog training and the sport of dog agility, and frequently weaves lessons learned from this pastime into his teaching.
Professor Hill is the author or co-author of numerous articles published in music journals (CBDNA Journal, WASBE Journal, Bands of America, National Association of Schools of Music, AMEA Journal, etc.) and in other journals, proceedings, and books, including: the Acoustical Society of America; The Oxford Handbook of Making Music and Leisure; and in the journal Hormones and Behavior. Hill has discussed his research as a speaker at numerous regional, national, and international meetings.
Professor Hill is a member of many professional organizations,including the American Bandmasters Association and the College Band Directors National Association, for which he hosted the “Fiftieth Anniversary National Conference” (1991), co-hosted the 2019 biennial national conference, as well as the joint conferences of the North Central and Southwestern Divisions in conjunction with The Society for American Music (1998), served as president of the Southwestern Division (1989-91), and as national president (2003-05).
Kira Goya
Horn player Kira Goya
Kira Goya, born and raised in Mililani, Hawaii on the island of Oahu, is currently pursuing a Graduate Certificate Program in Performance at the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music, studying with Julie Landsman. Kira currently holds the 4th horn seat in the Billings Symphony in Montana and is the 2nd horn in the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra here in California.
Before moving to LA, she received a Master of Music from the University of Colorado Boulder, in 2023, studying with Michael Thornton. During that time, Kira was fortunate to hold orchestral positions in the Fort Collins Symphony and the Longmont Symphony Orchestra. She also performed with ensembles including the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra. Prior to that, Kira earned her Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music, studying with W. Peter Kurau and received a minor in social and developmental psychology from the University of Rochester in 2021.


Alicia Kim
Antonina Styczen-Leszczynska
Dennis Papazyan
Ellen Cheng
Sylvia Ettinger
Alicia Kim
Antonina Styczen-Leszczynska
Dennis Papazyan
Alex Changus
Jingming Zhao
Katarina Lukich
Monica Song
Sara Petty
English Horn
Monica Song
Anders Peterson
Andrei Bancos
Bram Schenck
Chanul Kim
Elad Navon
Insoo Oh
Louis Milne
Melissa Frisch
Yan Liu
Yoo Min Sung
Callahan Lieungh
Christopher Lee
John Gonzalez
Taki Salameh
Jerver Hernandez
Aria Morgan
Collin Juniper
Ezequiel Castaneda
Gaoyuan Chen
Isaac Ko
Joshua Hebert
Julianna Townley
Reese Whitley
Sophia Flores
Wyatt Grose

Abraham Murillo
Evelyn Webber
Jean Smith
Lauren Goff
Rebecca Barron
Reese Romero
Steven Phan
Amy Millesen
Ben Gunnarson
EJ Miranda
Jazzmine Van Veld
Jorge Araujo Felix
Kobi Sampson-Davis
Lauren Spring
Alicia Miller
Kevin Truong
Pablo Castro
Sean Cooney
Stephen Hannan
Arisa Makita
Stephen Morman
Alan Lu
Logan Westerviller
Preston Spisak
Brandon Lim
David Lee
Leigh Wilson
Marcos Salgado
Preston Spisak
Tyler Stell
String Bass
Jared Prokop
Seoyon Susanna MacDonald
Carter Williams
Paulina Delgadillo