An analysis of Johan de Meij's UFO concerto for euphonium and wind orchestra through the lens of conductor and soloist, with a list of original euphonium solos accompanied by wind band (2007-2014)
Pohly, Linda, 1954-
This study provides an analysis of Johan de Meij’s UFO Concerto for Euphonium and Wind Orchestra based on the analytical method in Jan LaRue’s Guidelines for Style Analysis. The performance concerns of the soloist and issues of importance for the conductor are also discussed. Additionally, I provide insights garnered from interviews with the composer, the conductor of a premiere, and a soloist of a premiere. My own thoughts as a euphonium player and conductor also are included. An important observation I made was that of the recurring de Meij Chord/Gamelan Chord and Introductory Theme/Gamelan Theme, which are prevalent through much of the piece. This chord structure was used also in de Meij’s, Extreme Make-Over and Planet Earth. Composer de Meij and soloist Adam Frey both stated that the concerto’s form is through-composed. In my analysis, however, I identified the form as a quasi sonata-allegro form as explained in Chapter III. This piece is challenging for soloists because of its range, awkward fingering combinations/articulations, its multi rhythmic layers, and its length. Frey compared the UFO Concerto to several works that have become standard for solo euphonium and band. However, he notes that the ensemble for the UFO Concerto is given the task to play many of the same passages that also were written for the soloist. My discoveries concerning conducting issues include the need for the conductor to prepare the ensemble, as well as communicate with the soloist, because of some inherent musical liberties and intricate musical moments found in the piece. Based on the interview with Richard Good and my personal findings, this study confirms that a conductor must pay special attention to proper balance and the rhythmic challenges created by de Meij. An interview with Johan de Meij, the composer, explored the motivation, compositional background, and highlights of the piece that were not explicit in his program notes. De Meij also discussed his views on identification of the themes and the Gamelan Chord that was central to much of this five-movement work. Richard Good, a conductor who premiered the work, provided insight on conducting this concerto, especially regarding collaboration with the soloists. An interview with Adam Frey, who performed in the Asian premiere of the UFO Concerto, touched on aspects of preparation and on collaboration challenges. Transcripts of these focused interviews are found in Appendices B, C, and D. An important addition to this study is my list based on Adam Frey’s “Music for Euphonium and Wind Band,” found in the Guide to Euphonium Repertoire: The Euphonium Source Book. Appendix A lists original works for Euphonium and Wind Band written between 2007 and 2014. This list helps to place the UFO Concerto in the wider historical context of the euphonium repertoire.