Riverbend Rhapsody

David Shaffer
Birch Island Music Press, 1991


Riverbend Rhapsody (1991) begins with a slow and majestic 7 measure chorale-style introduction.  At measure 8, the band begins a more marcato section with separated quarter notes in rhythmic unison.  At 12, the clarinets and alto saxophones introduce the marcato theme, joined 4 measures later by flute and oboe.  The trumpets then take over this same marcato theme at measure 20.  The entire band executes a slight ritardando leading into measure 31 where the piece returns to the tempo and lyrical style presented in the introduction.  After the 10 measure lyrical chorale, the ensemble returns to the marcato style theme until the end of the piece.

While the piece is written to a younger band, there are plenty of opportunities for musicianship in this ABA (with an introduction) form piece.  The exciting marcato section keeps younger students excited, while the majestic chorale provides an opportunity to teach lyrical, chorale-style playing.

Performance Notes

Riverbend Rhapsody (1991) is a piece written in ABA form as part of the Barnhouse Young Concert Band Series.

Musical Challenges

While this composition appears to be a pretty straight-forward ABA style piece in the key of Eb Major, there are several potential pitfalls to avoid.  With 2 clarinet parts, 2 alto saxophone parts, and 2 trumpet parts, the texture of Riverbend Rhapsody is a little denser than many other Grade 1 compositions.  This necessitates independence in each of these three voices, which would imply a little more advanced ensemble.  The percussion parts, on the other hand, are so basic that they could be very frustrating to a percussionist who is able to play at the same level as the rest of the ensemble.  It makes this writer wonder is this piece was commissioned for a band with a weak percussion section or if Mr. Shaffer just ran out of energy before getting to the percussionists!

There are several opportunities to focus on intonation, especially in the introduction and the chorale-style “B” section.  A couple of accidentals could trap a younger musician, specifically the trumpet 1 written B natural in measure 22
and the alto saxophone 1 written F sharp in measure 14.  For some reason, young bands love to confuse their concert A naturals and A flats!

Finally, tempo transitions aren’t too difficult, but do need to be addressed, particularly the ritardando into the “B” section at measure 29 and 30.  Special attention should be given to the moving quarter notes in the clarinet and alto saxophone voices at that point to lead the ritardando into the slower section.

About the Composer

David Shaffer was born in Columbus, Ohio and attended Grove City High School, Grove City, Ohio. He holds a Bachelor Degree from The Ohio State University and a Master of Music Degree from Miami University (Ohio). Mr. Shaffer has taught in
the Hamilton, Ohio; Northridge, Ohio; and Wyoming, Ohio schools. Mr. Shaffer has been associated with the Miami University Marching Band for 30 years a Graduate Assistant Director (1978-80), Assistant Director (1980-97) and has been the Director for the past 11 years. Under his direction, the Miami Band has performed twice at the University of Michigan, West Virginia University and the University of Cincinnati. In 2000 and 2005, the Miami Band performed a combined half-time show with the Ohio State University Marching Band. The Miami Band has performed for seven regional Bands of America Contests and is currently hosting one of these yearly events at Miami University. In 2003 the Miami Band performed as the “Santa Band” in the 77th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

In addition to his involvement with the Miami University Marching Band, Mr. Shaffer has over 250 compositions and arrangements in print.  His compositions have been used at clinics and music festivals around the world and have been placed on contest required-performance lists in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Mr. Shaffer has been the recipient of the ASCAP Standard Award in Music Composition for 18 years.

Under the direction of Mr. Shaffer, the Wyoming High School String Orchestra performed as the opening group at the 1984 Mid-West National Band and Orchestra Director's Clinic in Chicago. Additional Mid-West conducting appearances were in 2000 and 2001 when Mr. Shaffer guest conducted his compositions with the Robinson School Band, Fairfax, Va., and the South Central Middle School Band, Cartersville, Ga.

Mr. Shaffer is in demand as a conductor for new music reading clinics, music festivals, and music education seminars. During the Summer of  1986 and 1992, he served as instrumental director for the Saskatchewan School of  Fine Arts. In February of 1997 he conducted a program of his music, with the China Youth Corps Band in the National Concert Hall, Taipei, Taiwan. Mr. Shaffer is a past adjudicator for Drum Corps International and Drum Corps Midwest and has judged championship events for both organizations.