Sometimes it’s difficult for music teachers to decide what their students are “up to”, when it comes to choosing music.
But you’re a music teacher and you think outside the box. Everything about your music classes doesn’t revolve around Old School classics. You want to mix it up a bit. To do that, turning to some fabulous music pieces for high school level youth orchestras from less venerable sources may be in order.
The 20th Century brought forth more in terms of symphonic music than many believe. Of course, you’re a music teacher, so you know that. All the same, we’d like to offer these selections as possible diversions from the standard fare, starting with the less complex pieces and moving up in difficulty as we go.
Greek Suite, Berthold Goldschmidt (1936).
Goldschmidt is having something of a special moment, in terms of interest in his work. This piece is relatively simple, in terms of rehearsal, due to the repetition of themes throughout.
Featured are 8 folkloric motifs, arranged for orchestral performance by Goldschmidt. While less challenging that some pieces, Greek Suite offers enough interest to keep students engaged, as they learn.
Aufbruch, Detlev Glanert (1986).
A reflection on romantic music from a contemporary perspective, the title of this piece means “departure”, but can also be interpreted as “breaking away”. Specifically, Glanert was seeking a platform for contemporary ideas built on traditional themes when he produced this piece.
Written expressly for performance by the Hamburg Youth Orchestra, Aufbruch is an ideal way to introduce your students to modern interpretations of the classical settings their learnings are built on.
Les Amants magnifiques, Andre Jolivet (1960).
Written as music to accompany the staging of the French playwright, Moliere’s, work of the same name. Jolivet produced a neo-classical re-visioning of the original music’s themes, in effect bringing them forward into the 20th Century.
This piece can be taught and readied for performance in the space of a school term. Each of its sections has its own heartbeat, a feature which won’t be lost on your students.
Symphonic Suite from “On the Waterfront”, Leonard Bernstein (1955).
This emotionally powerful, dramatic piece was produced by the great Bernstein as a setting for the Academy Award-winning film, starring Marlon Brando. The gritty dockyard backdrop of the film was his inspiration.
Featuring blues inflections and parts for reasonably accomplished brass (particularly trumpet), the Suite is relatively simple technically and beloved of audiences everywhere.
We hope you’ll find a place for these fabulous music pieces for high school level youth orchestras in your musical curriculum. They’ll introduce your students to a road less traveled (in musical terms) and inspire them to greater heights of achievement.
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