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Clifton Williams: "Symphonic Dance No. 3 – “Fiesta”

October 1, 2015

Symphonic Dance No. 3 – “Fiesta”

Clifton Williams

Born: March 24, 1923, Traskwood, Arkansas

Died: February 12, 1976, Miami, Florida

Original Instrumentation: Orchestra

Rescored for Symphonic Band by Clifton Williams, 1967

Duration: 7 minutes

Composed: 1964

 

Clifton Williams, Symphonic Dance No. 3 – “Fiesta”

 

Fiesta is the third in a set of five Symphonic Dances composed by Clifton Williams on a 1964 commission from the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation, commemorating the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra’s twenty-fifth anniversary. In the original suite, each of the five dances represented the spirit of a different time and place relative to the background of San Antonio, Texas. Fiesta is an evocation of the excitement and color of the city's numerous Mexican celebrations. The modal characteristics, rhythms, and finely woven melodies depict what Williams called “the pageantry of Latin-American celebration - street bands, bull fights, bright costumes, the colorful legacy of a proud people.” The introduction features a brass fanfare that generates a dark, yet majestic atmosphere that is filled with the tension of the upcoming events. The soft tolling of bells herald an approaching festival with syncopated dance rhythms. Solo trumpet phrases and light flirtatious woodwind parts provide a side interest as the festival grows in force as it approaches the arena. The brass herald the arrival of the matador to the bullring and the ultimate, solemn moment of truth. The finale provides a joyous climax to the festivities.

 

The first performance of the complete set of dances took place on January 30, 1965, under William’s baton. After achieving success with the San Antonio Symphony, Williams refashioned the set for symphonic band, and Fiesta was premiered at the American Bandmasters Association convention in Miami, Florida, on March 4, 1967, by the University of Miami’s “Band of the Hour,” under the composer’s direction.

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