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Georgetown band to play Holsinger

Noted composer's premiere incorporates Georgetown College alma mater

By Rich Copley rcopley@herald-leader.com

Georgetown College’s Tiger Symphonic Band will play the world premiere of David Holsinger’s latest composition, “Legacy Music,” at its spring concert Thursday Photo courtesy of David Holsinger

David Holsinger's name might not rank up there with Gershwin or Copland in the household name department, but mention it to almost anyone in the world of concert bands, and their eyes light up.

That's why Georgetown College's Tiger Symphonic Band is giddy that it is playing the world premiere of Holsinger's latest composition, Legacy Music, at its spring concert Thursday.

Because of a prior commitment, the composer, based at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., can't be in Georgetown for the concert. But we asked him a few questions via e-mail.

Question: How did you ­become interested in ­composing band music?

Answer: Holsinger offered a portion of prior writing, recalling playing for a noted band composer in college: ”Two days before tour, Vaclav Nehlybel walked into our band hall, stepped on the podium, lifted his arms. ... As I watched that first slashing downbeat of the baton, I realized I didn't have a clue what his music was all about. I had absolutely no idea how "personal' music could be. In that one electrifying instant, I saw brutality, beauty, angst, anguish, joy, triumph, sorrow, exhilaration, devastation, despair, hope, faith ... all in the eyes of one man conducting his music. ... At the close of the final tour concert, I sat in the back of an empty stage and wept. I was overcome by the transformation I knew was happening in my life. I had now come face to face with my future. I wanted to be a composer.“

Q: Tell us about Legacy Music.

A: ”Professor (and Georgetown Tiger Band director Peter) LaRue asked that the piece contain, not necessarily be based on, the Georgetown alma mater. The tune is to a hymn titled Are Ye Able, Said the Master, which dates from about 1926, if I recall correctly. ...

”The "spirit' of this composition was found in a short video on the Georgetown College Web site. ... It is a short and sweet look in pictures, old and new, of the college as it grew.

”Suddenly I knew that this piece was to be more about the legacy of the college than about a single tune.

”All I can say about the music is that, in my mind, it is about the ever-winding path of time blended with fragments of a hymn tune that eventually becomes the clarion call of the past, the present and the future.“

Q: LaRue says, ”There's not a band on the planet that hasn't played a piece by Holsinger.“ How does it feel for your music to have such a presence in the world of band music?

A: ”I'm honored.

”You remember when you were little and you wanted to grow up to be a firefighter, a policeman or a cowboy? On the day I met Vaclav Nehlybel, I wanted to grow up and be ... Vaclav Nehlybel! And by God's grace, I have. I would be remiss not to say that it's been a thrilling ride!

”And what would be a perfect reward? That someone else decides they want to grow up ... and be David Holsinger. Come on, young composer! There's room.“