Copyright © 2018 by Jeremy Bell

Celtic Wedding

Celtic Wedding is a beautiful and challenging work for wind ensemble that will be published with Alfred Music in 2018.  The opening section sets the scene of the wedding ceremony and starts with a simple arpeggiated figure in the harp and the melody in the oboe.  When the melody transfers to the flute, the clarinets and bassoon softly enter to add to the harmony before the focus then shifts to the warmth of the lower brass.  More of the ensemble is introduced as the opening section comes to a close and the main theme enters in the flute and piccolo.

 

The main theme is written in two different styles. The first incarnation, still depicting the ceremony, is a strathspey, which is a slow and stately dance tune in 4/4 time that is heavily ornamented and makes extensive use of the Lombard rhythm or “Scotch snap,” which is a short, accented note followed by a longer one.  This rhythm combined with the folk-style ornamentation in the melody is what creates that characteristic sound associated with Irish and Scottish music.

At measure 41, the ceremony gives way to the reception and the style changes to a jig in 6/8 time with a swung feeling, and it's in this section that the bodhrán or "Celtic frame drum" is introduced.  The bodhrán is played by using a stick or "tipper" in one hand while the other rests on the inside portion of the skin and can be used to change the pitch and timbre of the drum based on the hand's placement. In measure 63, the jig adapts the melody from the strathspey in measure 22 to the new time signature and the wedding bells can be heard, celebrating the happy marriage.  After a restatement of several of the themes, the piece builds to an exciting finish to close out this wonderful work.

Celtic Wedding is a unique and challenging work that incorporates multiple musical elements that perfect for teaching the history, style, and components of Celtic music.  It’s a fantastic piece that your ensemble will love to play.

Celtic Wedding was chosen as a highly recommended piece in the Reviewer's Choice section of The Instrumentalist Magazine.   Written by John Thomson, the review stated:

      The work will program well in a number of situations, but a successful performance will require close attention to the varied articulations and ornamented rhythmic figures as well as the other stylistic details.  An engaging composing for performers and audience alike, this well-constructed new selection might also be an ideal fit for adult community bands.

Celtic Wedding is published by Alfred Music Publishing and is also available at J.W. Pepper .

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