Repertoire Spotlight: “Fortress” by Frank Ticheli


This week we are featuring Frank Ticheli’s Fortress. Click the play button below to hear a recording of Fortress and click on the cover to follow along in the score.

Note that under the score we’ve also provided some rehearsal/performance tips from Mr. Ticheli as well as a video interview in which he talks about “Fortress.”

If you’re having trouble viewing the score below, be sure to update your Flash player and view at here.

Link to MP3 file Fortress:

Formal and Rehearsal Considerations from Frank Ticheli:

Fortress is intended to be moderately challenging to most high school bands and very challenging to gifted junior high school bands. (It is also suitable for college bands.) The piece can be divided roughly into five smaller sections, as follows:

Section I (Beginning – measure 53)
The piece begins in the percussion very quietly, All three players should be in equal balance. It is crucial that the timpani be tuned precisely as indicated. The main idea of the piece, first appearing at measure 12, dominates this section. Careful attention to balance and intonation should be given to the low brass stating the idea.

Section II (measures 54-70)
The “call motif” is developed canonically at the tritone, first as a two-part canon in tutti, then as a four-part canon by soloists. The soloists should be of equal balance.

Section III (measures 71-107)
The “legato theme” is developed through several keys, and the entire section builds gradually from piano to fortissimo.The “main idea” is recalled at measures 83-87 (trombones/euphonium) and at measures 96-99 (trumpet/horns), but it is always subordinate to the “legato theme.” At measures 100-106, the “legato theme” is passed from group to group, but it is always marked “bring out”.

Section IV (measures 108-123)
The “legato theme” is now in diminution over marcato chords in the low brass and low woodwinds. This evolved into a brief recollection of the main idea in tutti. The entire section must be very precise, but without losing intensity. A brief restatement of the legato theme at measures 122-123 prepares…

Section V (CODA)
Material from throughout the piece is recalled over a tonic pedal. The section begins very quietly and mysteriously, then gradually builds to the end. The conductor should not slow down too much at the poco rit. (measures 155-157). The first trumpets have the greatest responsibility in re-establishing the “a tempo” at measure 158.

Finally, check out this Conducting Masterclass video interview with Frank (the first of four) where he discusses Fortress. Enjoy!

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