This one time, at band camp, they played Perthshire Majesty

14 Jul

I love going to my middle-school-aged son’s concerts, for reasons other than the obvious.

Because I’ve never heard any of the many orchestras or bands he’s played in perform Coltrane or Steely Dan or Dylan or Sonny Rollins or any of my other favorite musicians or their work (the theme from The Beverly Hillbillies being the lone exception).

Most often they play some European composer whose name is hard to pronounce or a Middle American maestro of marches, neither of which I know.

But all of them, no matter their country of origin or genre of music, are good in ways different from jazz or rock as poetry. And invariably I sit, listen, and wonder how I could have pursued so much music and missed something so obviously worthy.

Today’s revelation was an American composer named Samuel R. Hazo, by way of Pittsburgh. I had never heard of Mr. Hazo or his music until performed today by the Seminole Band on the last day of band camp at Florida State University (how proud I would be to say my son was in the Seminole Band at FSU was yet another revelation today).

Turns out my ignorance was my loss. I don’t know if all of Mr. Hazo’s pieces are as beautiful as the Perthshire Majesty — the one the Seminole Band played today — but I aim to find out.

You won’t learn by Wikipedia, because about all Hazo’s page there has is a list of his works and the information he is not Samuel John Hazo the author (who, by a fantastic coincidence unreported on the composer’s Wikipedia page, is the composer’s father).

Hazo’s own web page tells more: his education (Duquesne University), year of birth (1966), awards won (as teacher, composer and alumnus) and work associations (James Earl Jones, Brooke Shields and, most impressively, Lucinda Williams). And that the Perthshire Majesty was written by Hazo for a friend/conductor whose ancestry dates back to the Scottish county of Perthshire.

It can’t tell you how beautiful a piece of music Perthshire Majesty is. If you need to, you’ll have to learn that for yourself. Click the link above to hear the Columbus State University Wind Ensemble perform Perthshire Majesty — they do an able job of approaching the heights the Seminole Band reached today.



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