Fanfare and Celebration

Fanfare and Celebration was commissioned by the Houston Symphony Orchestra to mark the occasion of Sergiu Comissiona’s first concert as its principal conductor. Composed in the spring of 1980, it received its world premiere on September 6, 1980 by the Houston Symphony, Sergiu Comissiona, conducting. Since its premiere it has rapidly found favor with conductors and orchestras throughout the country.

The work opens with a figure which translates into music the sweeping lines of the Houston Symphony’s then-current logo, which was an artist’s impression of a conductor’s upbeat. It can clearly be heard, three lines sweeping down then up again, first in the woodwinds then later in the upper strings. This opening flourish is immediately answered by a fanfare-like motive in the brass, both of which figure prominently throughout the rest of the work.

The lyrical middle section, composed in the style of an English ceremonial procession, is a deliberate remembrance of the past contributions of outstanding English conductors, particularly Sir John Barbirolli, to the tradition of the Houston Symphony. But the music soon returns to the celebratory thoughts of the present with which the work opened, as the motives of the conductors’ upbeat figure and the fanfare grow ever stronger.

The work ends with a canon featuring each section of the brasses in unison, marked con tutta forza (“with full strength”), during which each section is taken to the top of its range, followed by the final working out of the opening motive and the ultimate assertion of the tonic D major triad.

This brief overture embodies the spirit of a fanfare as well as a sense of joyous ceremony. Its sonorities reflect the optimism of the major triad as well as the dynamism of the minor second.

Program Notes by Samuel Jones