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Program Notes

Variations on a Korean Folk Song


John Barnes Chance, composer

Chance won the American Bandmasters Association Ostwald Award for this work in the year following its composition. He provided the following information concerning the work in the Journal of Band Research for Autumn 1966:

I became acquainted with the folk song Arrirang (pronounced "AH-dee-dong") while serving in Seoul, Korea in the Eighth U.S. Army Band in 1958-59. The tune is not as simple as it sounds, and my fascination with it during the intervening years led to its eventual use as the theme for this set of variations.
The work is in six sections—the opening pentatonic theme stated by the clarinets followed by five distinct variations. The first variation features temple blocks and woodwinds. Variation two is quiet and serene with the original melody, now inverted, played by the oboe. The third variation is a fast march, the fourth is broad and solemn, and the fifth is more involved with various sections of the band playing one of the two phrases heard in the opening theme.



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