David R. Holsinger
TRN Music Pulisher, 1998


As one can probably tell from the title, Adagio (1998) is not a fast composition.  Also judging from the tempo and the dedication, it is fair to assume this composition is a reflection on the life of Byron E. Grey.  The way the piece begins, warmly with single reeds, tuba, and euphonium, it’s fair to assume that the subject was unassuming.  The composer takes us all the way to the pick-up notes into 17 before we even encounter an eighth note, and when we do, these notes long, connected, lyrical phrases.  Holsinger continues to build the piece by slowly, steadily adding more instruments and more voices to the texture until measure 41 builds into a glorious trumpet, saxophone, and clarinet melodic fanfare.  Rather than “loud”, the moment is “strong”, “assured”, or “confident”.  This is the moment in the piece where Holsinger credits his friend of such calm demeanor with strength, moral fortitude, or character.  From that climactic moment, the rest of the piece finishes as it began, introspective and calm.

Performance Notes

Adagio(1998) was written in memory of Byron E. Gray, musician, educator, friend.

Musical Challenges

One may look at a 74 measure Grade 4 composition and assume there are no worries!  Add that the key signature never varies from the key of Eb Major or the meter of 4/4 time and one wonders why this is a Grade 4 composition.

Musically, this may be one of the hardest “easy” pieces of music available!  With the dynamic levels so soft most of the piece, performers must be mature enough and responsible enough to maintain very long phrases without losing the support necessary for beautiful tone and maintenance of pitch.

As the trumpet takes the lead at measure 42, the tone must stay open and clear.  Also, balance between all three trumpet voices, each other, and the rest of the band, can be very challenging indeed.  Strength should be portrayed here, not feebleness or tension.

Technically speaking, the woodwind fingers are going to get a bit of a work-out.  As with any fast technical passage, encourage the students to practice slowly!  Facility will come faster if the student takes a very deliberate pace in practicing the technique.

Surprisingly, given Holsinger’s habits, but maybe not so surprising given the subject matter, there are very few accidentals.  This allows the students to focus almost exclusively on this simple and majestic melody.

About the Composer

In 1999, award winning composer and conductor David R. Holsinger joined the faculty of Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee. He is the inaugural conductor of the Lee Wind Ensemble and teaches composition, orchestration, and conducting. He holds degrees from Central Methodist University, University of Central Missouri, and the University of Kansas.

Dr. Holsinger's compositions have won four national competitions, including a two time ABA Ostwald Award. His works have also been finalists in the NBA and Sudler composition competitions. In the summer of 1998, Holsinger was featured as the HERITAGE VI composer during the Texas Bandmasters Association convention in San Antonio. This prestigious series celebrating American wind composers was founded in 1992 and had previously honored Morton Gould, Ron Nelson, Robert Jager, W. Francis McBeth, and Roger Nixon. An elected member of the American Bandmasters Association, Holsinger's recent honors include the Distinguished Music Alumni Award from Central Missouri State University, CIDA'S 1999 Director of the Year Citation, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia's Orpheus Award, the 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award from Central Methodist College, and the 2003 Excellence in Scholarship Citation from Lee University. Surrounding the premiere of the composer's Easter Symphony, Holsinger was honored by Gustavus Adolphus College with the awarding of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for lifetime achievement in composition and presented the Gustavus Fine Arts Medallion, the division's highest award.

In the past twelve years, Holsinger has served as Visiting Distinguished Composer in Residence at eleven American colleges or universities. In addition to his university duties, Holsinger spends much of his energies as a guest composer and conductor with All State organizations, professional bands, and university ensembles throughout the United States. When not composing or conducting, he models HO scale trains.