program notes by composition > A > American Overture for Band

American Overture for Band

Joseph Wilcox Jenkins

American Overture for Band calls for skilled playing by several sections, especially the French horns. It is written in a neo-modal style being flavored strongly with both Lydian and Mixolydian mode. Its musical architecture is a very free adaptation of the sonata form. The music material borders on the folk tune idiom, although there are no direct quotes from any folk tunes. It was the composer’s first band piece and remains his most successful work.

Joseph Willcox Jenkins (b. 1928) was born in Philadelphia. He began composing as a child, as part of his piano instruction. Before switching to a career in music he received a pre-Law degree at St. Joseph's College. He earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music. He then served on the arranging staff of the U.S. Army Field Band in Ft. Meade, Maryland where he composed this work to showcase the superb horn section. He received his doctorate at Catholic University and re-enlisted to serve as chief arranger and assistant conductor of the U.S. Army Chorus. During this time he composed several works for band and wrote nearly 300 choral arrangements. In 1959 he was awarded a Ford Foundation fellowship to be composer-in-residence at Evanston Township High School. He taught music at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh from 1961 until 2001 and now serves as Professor Emeritus.

Last updated on July 17, 2013 by Palatine Concert Band