Second Essay for Symphonic Band
by: Mark Camphouse
My dear friend and colleague Alfred Watkins possesses many unique and outstanding qualities, both personal and professional. But when I hear the name Alfred Watkins, the first word that comes to mind is teacher … a truly great teacher. Through his distinguished leadership as a masterful and motivational teacher, he has touched the lives of countless young people over the years, enriching them, enlightening them, inspiring them, and somehow always being successful in teaching them to become better musicians and, ultimately, better human beings. To me, this will be his legacy.
How can a composer possibly capture (through sound) the above mentioned qualities and accomplishments? The truth is you cannot. When I first started to sketch this work last fall, I decided to not try to create a musical ‘portrait’ of Alfred Watkins, per se. What I did try to do was to create a piece for Alfred that would ‘speak’ to him harmonically, melodically, and texturally, and that would be enriching and challenging for players and accessible to audiences. Most importantly, I tried to create a piece that Alfred would believe in, and would want to teach with great enthusiasm to school and community bands throughout the United States and hopefully beyond.
During my 20-year friendship with Alfred, we have had many spirited discussions about politics, calmer conversations about our wonderful respective families, and some very enlightening talks about music, the band profession, and yes, about the art of teaching. I can honestly say that I have learned a great deal about music, teaching, and life from Alfred Watkins.
While Second Essay for Symphonic Band is one of my few non-programmatic works, there are contrasting moods and emotions that range from dissonant incisiveness to quiet tenderness, tempi that range from very slow to those that are very energetic, and orchestration that ranges from very thin and transparent textures to very full and rich ones. (Hmm… maybe this is a programmatic piece after all!) I am very excited and honored to have the opportunity of conducting this afternoon’s premiere performance of this 7 minute, Grade 5 work with the outstanding musicians of the Cobb Wind Symphony.
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"Alfred Watkins and the Lassiter High School Band: A Qualitative Study
by: Sue Samuels
"An Historical Narrative of His Musical Life and Work with the Lassiter High School Band"
by: Matthew J. Thomas
In 2009 and 2010, two doctoral dissertations were written centering their subject matter on his life and his work at Lassiter. They are: Alfred Watkins and the Lassiter High School Band: A Qualitative Study by Sue Samuels, a dissertation submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Auburn University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Auburn, Alabama December 18, 2009 and Alfred L. Watkins:
An Historical Narrative of His Musical Life and Work with the Lassiter High School Band by Matthew J. Thomas, a Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, The Florida State University, School of Music, Degree Awarded: Spring Semester, 2010. In 2014, Watkins’ former students and friends commissioned composers Mark Camphouse and James Curnow to write works honoring Mr. Watkins and his career: “Second Essay for Symphonic Band” and “Lexus for Solo Trumpet, Winds and Percussion.”
Watkins Commemorative Program
"Nexus for Solo Trumpet, Winds and Percussion"
by composer James Curnow | 2014
The word nexus is defined as a tie or link between people and events. "Nexus, for Solo Trumpet and Winds," includes several links between composer James Curnow and educator Alfred Watkins, to whom the work is dedicated. A well-known theme (particularly to Mr. Watkins' students) is drawn upon as the piece utilizes two primary musical settings - an energetic and agile scherzo that appears in the beginning and again at the end, contrasted with an expressive Ballad theme.
The soloist at the premiere (and on the recording) is Christopher Watkins, Alfred's son, a member of the United States Army Band "Pershing's Own" in Washington, DC. This is a well-crafted and rewarding work for soloist and band alike. The premiere was performed in the beautiful Lassiter Concert Hall by an ensemble of Mr. Watkins' former students with the composer James Curnow conducting.