Video Performance Feature:

"Crown of Thorns" by David Maslanka
     Performed by the University of Oklahoma Percussion Orchestra

     Under the direction of Dr. Lance Drege

Mallet Selection for this Piece:

Pesante Series Keyboard
Soft. Little attack‚ yet capable of projecting low register voicing.
L = 16 3/8"
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Gifford Howarth Signature Keyboard
Very soft. Huge sounding low-end mallets. Great for cello suites or general use bass mallets. Produces a full overtone-rich bass sound.
L = 17 5/8"
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Ney Rosauro Signature Keyboard
Medium. For full and extremely rich sound throughout the keyboard.
L = 15 3/4"
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About the piece:

Crown of Thorns (1991)

Premiered 11/91 by the University of Oklahoma Percussion Orchestra, Richard Gipson, conductor
Commissioned by the University of Oklahoma Percussion Orchestra/Richard Gipson

“The title Crown of Thorns is an obvious reference to Christ’s Crown of Thorns, but the name first came to me as a possible title for a piece from seeing a plant called “Crown of Thorns” at the New York Botanical Gardens. Crown of Thorns is a rambling, thorny desert plant from the Middle East, with small green leaves, and small, pretty red flowers. The rambling, interweaving, vine-like stems suggested music to me.

As I meditated on the words “Crown of Thorns”, and on the plant, and on the idea of a work for keyboard percussion ensemble, the following image arose:

a darkening sky

seven stars are visible:

the seven-starred halo

the golden light

the hands of blessing

The seven-starred halo is a transcended image of the crown of thorns. It is the crown of highest spiritual power arrived at through the greatest depth of suffering. The imagery is Christian, but the experience transcends religion, and is universal. The music is at times sober and reflective, but more often filled with a liberated energy and joy.”

     – David Maslanka

About the composer:

David Maslanka was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1943. He attended the Oberlin College Conservatory where he studied composition with Joseph Wood. He spent a year at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and did masters and doctoral study in composition at Michigan State University where his principal teacher was H. Owen Reed.

Maslanka's music for winds has become especially well known. Among his 40-plus works for wind ensemble and band are Symphonies 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9, 12 concertos, a Mass, and many concert pieces. His wind chamber music includes four wind quintets, two saxophone quartets, and many works for solo instrument and piano. In addition, he has written a variety of orchestral and choral pieces.

David Maslanka's compositions are published by Carl Fischer, Inc., David Maslanka Publications, Kjos Music Company, Marimba Productions, Inc., the North American Saxophone Alliance, OU Percussion Press, and TrevCo Music, and have been recorded on Albany, Reference Recordings, BIS (Sweden), Naxos, Cambria, CRI, Mark, Novisse, AUR, Cafua (Japan), Brain Music (Japan), Barking Dog, and Klavier labels. He has served on the faculties of the State University of New York at Geneseo, Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York, and since 1990 has been a freelance composer. He now lives in Missoula, Montana. David Maslanka is a member of ASCAP.

For more information:


About the conductor:

Dr. Lance Drege

An associate professor in the School of Music at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Lance Drege directs the percussion program, teaches applied percussion, conducts the OU Percussion Orchestra, and teaches other percussion related courses. He is presently completing his twenty-second year on the faculty at OU. From 1997-2002, Drege also served as Assistant to the Director for the School of Music. His principal teachers include Dr. Richard C. Gipson and Dr. Cort McClaren. Prior to coming to OU, Drege taught public school instrumental music in Hobart, OK and Elk City, OK. Drege has been Principal Timpanist with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra since 1999 and was a member of the percussion section of the symphony for the previous nine years. He has twice served as the Oklahoma State Chapter President for the Percussive Arts Society and is a recipient of the 1992 Presidential Distinguished Educator Award.

Learn more about the Percussion Department at the University of Oklahoma by visiting: