James Swearingen
C. L. Barnhouse, 1981


Invicta (1981) is an exciting overture that appeals to performers and audience members alike.  Beginning with an energetic maestoso fanfare introduction in the key of Bb Major, the performers immediately draw the attention of the audience!

At measure 9, a syncopated low brass accompaniment figure leads into the first statement of the flowing, lyrical theme 1 in the clarinet and baritone voices.  Flutes and alto saxophones join in to the melody at measure 30.  An energetic, syncopated, accented rhythmic unison figure at measure 25 provides a brief interlude before the trumpets take over theme 1, balanced by a counter-line in the upper woodwinds and yet a third line in the horn and alto saxophone, all still occurring over a low brass/reed syncopated ostinato pattern.

Beginning at measure 53, horn and euphonium lead a rallantando diminuendo into theme 2, which enters in the key of Ab Concert,in 2/4 time, and in the horn and alto saxophone at 62.  As with theme 1, Swearingen develops this section by layering more and more voices, so that by the time the key changes back to Bb Major at measure 86, there are five distinct lines weaving around each other.

Finally, at 144 the ensemble revisits theme 1 and finishes with a strong coda section in this ABA style composition.

Performance Notes

Invicta (1981) is dedicated to Mark S. Kelly, director of bands at Bowling Green (Ohio) State University.

Musical Challenges

Right off the bat I want to question this piece as a Grade 3.  With all of the musical lines bouncing off of each other, this piece requires a tremendous amount of facility, maturity of tone, and awareness of balance and harmony, not to mention 203 measures of musical focus and intensity.

This is a tremendously exciting piece of music, and your students will love to play it!  In addition to items listed above, tempo transitions are very important in this piece.  While there are several, the biggest pitfalls tend to happen with the horn/euphonium lead at measure 53 heading into theme 2, the snare lead coming out of measure 124 back to theme 1, and in the two Maestoso measures at measure 198.  Tempo can also be a challenge at 86 with so many parts at once.

Finally, students should be encouraged to play 4 measure phrases on any of the lyrical passages in theme1 or theme 2.  Younger students will have a tendency to breathe every two measure if allowed to do so.  Sustaining those phrases shouldn’t be too difficult, but will not happen automatically.

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.