Balladair (by Frank Erickson)

Thomas Palmatier • GreatMusicReviewsMay 2022 • May 2, 2022

“Balladair” has a very special place in my heart. When I was in fifth grade band, our director, Tony Maiello (yes, that Tony Maiello) who was in his first year of teaching, programmed “Balladair.” I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and it revealed to me the way gorgeous music could make you feel. I have programed it frequently over the ensuing decades. It’s a very playable Grade 2 in B-flat Major with comfortable ranges. This is an incredible piece to enable even advanced groups to work on listening, tone quality, intonation, and phrasing. I use it frequently with my adult community band as the first piece in rehearsal to get their bodies, ears, minds, and souls warmed up.

Lest you think I’m the only fan of “Balladair,” several years ago I was the director at the Czech Youth Music Camp and we played “Balladair.” After our concert, this beatific young Czech girl asked me if I had picked the piece. When I told her I had, she said, “It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Balladair” was published in 1958 and is a perfect example that music doesn’t have to be new to be great.

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