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Music Reviews for banddirector.com
by Vince Corozine

TITLE: HOLIDAY VARIATIONS
COMPOSER: Arranged by Michael Story
PUBLISHER: Alfred Music
LENGTH: Approximately 2:00
GRADE LEVEL: Beginning Band


Holiday Variations based on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” contains some enjoyable musical moments.

The first variation is a march with the quarter note at (mm=-110), the second is a Waltz (mm=126), and the final variation is a Latin –American flavored section (=126).

The March should be played in a marcato (detached) style, while the Waltz should be in a light-detached staccato style.

Story employs an appealing use of imitation at the very beginning of the piece. The phrase builds as the low bass section starts, followed by unison trumpets and alto saxophones, and finally by the high woodwinds and F. horns. The effect builds in sonority that works very well.

A very active percussion part keeps your percussionists on their toes throughout the selection. It is varied enough not to become monotonous and to provide a challenge for the percussionists.

Instrument ranges are modest and comfortable. The clarinets are below the break; flute ascends to a C above the staff; and the bass clarinet, baritone horn, trombones, and bassoon play in unison throughout the arrangement.

The Waltz staccato section is quite effective and the legato section from measures 35 to 50 provides a wonderful contrast in style and sonority.

The third variation is a bright Latin section where the low brass and woodwinds (in octaves) effectively take up the melody. I feel that the Latin feel is sometimes lost due to the legato phrasing of the band beginning in measure 62. Perhaps a suitable contrast and variety can be added to the piece by not having the percussion play at the beginning of measure 62 and by having them reenter in measure 72.

The ending brings forth the standard whole step chord progression so often found in Latin tunes like “Tequila.”

The use of occasional breath marks in the instrument parts will help the young players to phrase more musically.

I am glad to see that the bells are not playing all the way through. They are tastefully written in this arrangement.

This selection is a well-written piece of music, with carefully notated expression markings and dynamics that will add variety to any musical program. I recommend this piece for teaching marcato and staccato styles.

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