Chant & Celebration

Sandy Feldstein & John O'Reilly
Alfred Publishing Company, 1980


As the title implies, Chant and Celebration (1980) is designed in two parts.  The “chant” is an andante section in the key of g minor which features a call and response between the woodwind and brass voices using only eighth, quarter, half, and whole note values.  The chant ends on a full g minor chord, and leads right into the allegro “celebration” where the flutes and clarinets have an energetic quarter/eighth note melodic theme accompanied by quarter note chords in the brass and saxophone voices.  The piece concludes without ever returning to the more somber “chant” motif.

As a musical experience, Chant and Celebration provides young musicians with an excellent opportunity to hear and perform modal melodies while feeling comfortable in keys related to their Bb Major “home key”.

Performance Notes

Though Chant & Celebration (1980) is written for a very beginning band, it allows the young performers to play in modes and tonalities normally reserved for more advanced ensembles.  Students should pay close attention to beautiful, clear tone as they sustain the chorale section.  Likewise, the celebration section should be played with clear tone, not too heavy, and not too fast.  The celebration should be more “stately” than fast, with a sense of self-importance.

Musical Challenges

The composers do an excellent job of writing to the very beginning student.  For this reason, there are no inherent range issues or problems with basic tone production. Students can focus on making this piece musical!  Students should take care to make sure there is a good balance between the flute and clarinet “call” and the brass and saxophone “response”, as there could be a tendency for the brass section to play much stronger than the upper reeds. Similarly, instruments need to be aware of balance as they head into the allegro “celebration”, as again the brass and saxophone lines may have a tendency to be too heavy for good balance.

It would be a good idea to point out the change from A natural to A flat concert at measure 24 (allegro), this is a concept students must learn early and reinforce often, and the composers provide an excellent opportunity for just that here! Another challenge caused by immature playing will be sustaining the long four measure phrases in the “chant” section.  Reminding students that softer playing may allow for longer phrases could help in two areas here:  Balance and phrasing.

Surprisingly for a well written piece, the percussion parts are utilitarian at best.  The director may consider using mallet instruments on the flute part, or writing in a part for triangle, suspended cymbal, or anything.  The weak percussion parts are really the only drawback to this well-written piece for very beginning band.

About the Composers

Sandy Feldstein

Sandy Feldstein was a highly respected performer, composer, arranger, conductor and educator of national prominence. He was the recipient of numerous degrees, including a doctorate from Columbia University, and was an ASCAP award-winning composer. In the area of percussion, Dr. Feldstein distinguished himself as a leader in percussion education. As past president of the Percussive Arts Society, he was cited by that group for his contribution to the world of percussion. He was a frequent guest lecturer and clinician at universities and music conventions throughout the country. Regarded as a superstar in the educational field, Sandy Feldstein's music and books are still used by hundreds of thousands of young people all over the world every day. He was keenly attuned to the needs of the teaching community, and for that reason, he will always be known as an innovator in educational music. The industry lost Sandy as a great pioneer with his passing in 2007, but his dedication to music will never be forgotten.

John O'Reilly

John O'Reilly is one of the most-performed composers of band music in the world today. A recipient of numerous ASCAP awards, he has studied composition with Robert Washburn, Arthur Frackenpohl, Charles Walton and Donald Hunsberger. Mr. O'Reilly graduated from the Crane School of Music, State University of New York at Potsdam. In addition, he is the recipient of a Master of Arts in Composition and Theory degree from Columbia University. His years of teaching experience at elementary through college levels has provided him with insights and sensitivities to the needs of both student and educators. As co-author of Accent on Achievement, the Yamaha Band Student and Strictly Strings, Mr. O'Reilly has made a major impact on contemporary instrumental music education.