Commissioned by the 7th Grade Band of Saint Anthony Middle School, Saint Anthony Village, Minnesota, Christian Ravndal, director, Slow March with Celebration was composed in 1990 and premiered at Saint Anthony Middle School in 1991.
The piece takes as its structural inspiration the traditional New Orleans funeral music played by brass bands. A slow dirge is played as the funeral cortege exits from the church and begins the journey toward the cemetery, after which the music becomes festive and up-tempo to send the soul off to a happier place.
The materials presented in the first movement are transformed and developed in the second movement. A modal diatonic scale over a pedal point in the bass serves as the foundation for both movements.
A very slow tempo, a very solemn mood, and a very legato style will best serve the first movement. The second movement should be lively, and rhythmically precise, with a bit of New Orleans jazz style.
Conductors and players who wish to become better acquainted with New Orleans brass band music might seek out recordings by the Eureka Brass Band, or the more contemporary Dirty Dozen Brass Band.