John Zdechlik (b. 1937) is a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota. While playing trumpet and piano with his high school jazz band, he developed an interest in composition. He holds degrees in music education, as well as composition and theory, from the University of Minnesota (Ph.D. in 1970). His composition instructors included Paul Fetler and Frank Bencriscutto. Zdechlik is now retired from his position at the Lakewood Community College, where he was a Professor and Chairman of the Music Department. He has written numerous commissioned and published works for high school and college concert bands, including Celebrations, Chorale and Shaker Dance, Grand Rapids Suite, Passacaglia, and Z’s Blues.An active member of the American Bandmasters Association, Zdechlik has conducted in 35 states and in Japan, England, and Scotland.
In 1988, Minnesota native John Zdechlik was commissioned to compose a work to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Medalist Concert Band of Bloomington, Minnesota, Dr. Earl C. Benson, conductor. Serving the Twin Cities, this 70-member community concert band was awarded the prestigious Sudler Silver Scroll in 1996. Celebrations is a dynamic work that alternates between two themes. The first theme employs rapid ascending phrases in the woodwinds against a punctuated background tempo provided by the brass and percussion. A second sustained and majestic theme is interwoven into the composition to provide an opportunity to reflect on past accomplishments. Both themes combine in a final, stately conclusion.
Chorale and Shaker Dance
This 1971 composition combines a simple chorale theme, introduced by the woodwinds, with variations of the well known Shaker Hymn “Simple Gifts.” There is a progression of instrumental timbres and chord textures as the themes alternate and commingle. Brief solos for flute, clarinet, saxophone, and trumpet occur at tempo changes. The brass and woodwinds exchange the themes as time signatures cause an increase in both tempo and intensity. Sustained brass sections play the chorale with woodwinds performing a fiery obligato based on the Shaker hymn as the development peaks. A demanding timpani part punctuates the dramatic ending.
Psalm 46 is based upon the chorale melody from “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” the best known Martin Luther hymn, which was composed sometime between 1527 and 1529. The hymn’s words paraphrase Psalm 46. Zdechlik’s setting is divided into four major sections with a wide variety of styles and meters that draw to a powerful heroic conclusion. The work, originally published in 1971, is dedicated to Mr. Leon Titus and the Concordia College Band, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Sing My Tongue, Alleluia
Sing My Tongue, Alleluia was written in 2006 under commission from the St. Benedict/St. John’s University Wind Ensemble, St. Joseph, Minnesota. The composer provided the following program note:
“The work is based on the plainsong chant Pange Lingua. The piece begins with a vocalization of the common Alleluia and is followed by a statement of the chant melody in the low reeds. Three variations follow: a chorale prelude setting which is very lyrical, an asymmetric rhythm variation, and finally a free variation based upon the first phrase of the plainsong. The piece concludes with a restatement of the theme in the low brass. The opening Alleluia is then restated and the piece ends quietly.”
Earl Zindars was born in Chicago in 1927 and lived his last 42 years in San Francisco, passing away in 2005. He received his Bachelor of Music Degree from De Paul University, his Master of Music Degree from Northwestern University, and undertook post graduate studies at Oxford University as a Fullbright Scholar, Notre Dame University, and Columbia University. He taught composition, theory, percussion, and jazz at San Francisco State University for six years. His professional percussion credits include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Radio City Music Hall, the San Francisco and Oakland Symphony Orchestras, major recording and television studios, and countless smaller venues across America. As a composer, Earl enjoyed seeing many of his jazz works become standards around the world, thanks in large part to his longtime friend, the legendary pianist Bill Evans, featuring Earl's pieces on his records. His classical compositions have also been performed around the world. His wife, daughters, friends, and fans continue to promote and perform his works in his honor.
A timpani solo heralds the start of this brass fanfare that is filled with polytonality reminiscent of works by Vincent Persichetti. It progresses with climbing chords to a melodious center section featuring a solo trumpet. Building momentum, the fanfare reaches a final climax punctuated by the timpani once again.