James Swearingen
Birch Island Music Press, 1984


Aventura (1984) opens with a largo chorale in the key of f minor, slowly building a fortissimo crescendo into the presto section at measure 9. The presto section is marked by driving percussion and a primarily eighth note rhythm in the trumpet alternating every measure with a quarter note rhythm in the low brass.  At 19, the low brass takes over the eighth note figure and alternates measures with the quarter note figure in the woodwinds.  Measure 27 finds a mezzo piano eighth a note driving ostinato in the flute, leading to lyrical flowing melodies in F Major by the other woodwind instruments.  At 56 the band returns to the f minor motif, though still maintaining the presto tempo.  An adagio section follows at measure 72, with solos in the flute and euphonium and other instruments reduced to one on a part. The F Major motif is restated at measure 90, building energy until the ensemble makes a final return to f minor to finish the piece.

Performance Notes

Aventura (1984) was commissioned by and dedicated to the Clayton High School Concert Band in Clayton, Missouri, directed by Carol Shannon and Michael

Musical Challenges

As with many Swearingen works, transitions between tempos will be a major concern throughout Aventura. The members of the ensemble will need a strong awareness of pulse and the conductor’s baton at all times. Added to the transition in and out of tempos, the piece is constantly moving back and forth between the minor and Major tonalities, requiring even more vigilance.

Articulations in this piece need to played very precisely so as to not get “bogged down”.  Especially in the presto sections, all parts should be played in a light, playful manner, with nothing heavy being allowed to come through.  During the largo and adagio sections, care should be taken to maintain the dark, brooding quality of the key as the ensemble also listens down to the base of the pyramid for balance and blend.

Solos in flute and euphonium need to performed by students with beautiful vibrato in their tone!  Without the warmth provided by the characteristic vibrato, the solos at measure 84 can just become shallow, lusterless, and boring (the recording on this CD is definitely an example of the wrong way to perform these solos!).

While percussion has much to do, the percussionists must always be aware of the melodic voice.  This is one of the many pieces where if you notice the percussion, then they have done something wrong!

About the Composer

James Swearingen's talents as a performer, composer/arranger and educator include a background of extensive training and experience. He has earned degrees from Bowling Green State University and The Ohio State University. Mr. Swearingen is currently Professor of Music, Department Chair of Music Education and one of several resident composers at Capital University located in Columbus, Ohio. He also serves as a staff arranger for the famed Ohio State University Marching Band. Prior to his appointment at Capital in 1987, he spent eighteen years teaching instrumental music in the public schools of central Ohio. His first teaching assignment took him to the community of Sunbury, Ohio. He then spent fourteen years as Director of Instrumental Music at Grove City High School where his marching, concert and jazz bands all received acclaim for their high standards of performing excellence.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Mr. Swearingen manages to be very active as a guest conductor, adjudicator and educational clinician. Appearances have included trips throughout the United States, as well as Japan, Australia, Europe, Canada and The Republic of China.

Mr. Swearingen's numerous contributions for band have been enthusiastically received by school directors, student performers and audiences worldwide. With over 500 published works, he has written band compositions and arrangements that reflect a variety of musical forms and styles. Many of his pieces, including 86 commissioned works, have been chosen for contest and festival lists. He is a recipient of several ASCAP awards for published compositions and in 1992 was selected as an Accomplished Graduate of the Fine and Performing Arts from Bowling Green State University. In March of 2000, he was invited to join The American Bandmasters Association, considered to be the most prestigious bandmaster organization in the world. Mr. Swearingen received the 2002 Community Music Educator Award given annually by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. In that same year, he became conductor of the Grove City Community Winds. This highly talented ensemble consists of many fine musicians from the central Ohio area. He is a member of numerous professional and honorary organizations including OMEA, MENC, ASBDA, Phi Beta Mu and Pi Kappa Lambda.

On June 20, 2009, The American School Band Directors Association, Inc., presented Mr. Swearingen with the A. Austin Harding Award.  This prestigious award is presented annually by the organization and is reflective of valuable and dedicated service to the school bands of America.