Music for Band/Wind Ensemble

Click on the provided links to view the score, hear a recording, and/or order the piece. If your group plans to perform one of my pieces, I would love to hear from you!


Grade I-II
Bridget Cruise – For teaching music and expression you can’t do much better than Bridget Cruise. Based on a theme by Turlough O’Carolan, the clearly marked changes of tempo and the ebb and flow of changing dynamics will enhance the performance as well as assist in teaching expressive playing. Limited ranges and technical demands make this useful with bands at various levels. Very Grainger-ish.


Desert March – A beginning band piece with lots of teaching opportunities and fun to play (even has some foot stomping!). Imagery of soldiers marching through the desert.


The Good King’s March – This clever Grade I march is perfect for your next holiday program, incorporating the popular Christmas carol ‘Good King Wenceslas.’ All sections of the band have their moment in the spotlight during the brief 1-1/2 minute duration.


Let Thy Spirit – this piece is designed to be a companion piece to Tschesnokoff’s most famous hymn, “Salvation is Created,” lovely and accessible.


Processional – Full of dynamic and style contrasts, percussion, and excitement, Processional is a great opener or closer for young band appropriate for any concert, commencement, or festival! Add to that a short fugal passage and you get a piece that you, your band, and your audience will enjoy.


Grade III
Alchemy: Spirit Into Sound – The first in the “Dark Ages Trilogy,” Alchemy, explores the Medieval idea of turning metals into gold. As musicians, we turn our spirits into sound.
An excellent introduction to aleatoric playing, this piece is an exciting closer or opener. Exciting percussion!


All Creatures of Our God and King – based on the harmonization of Ralph Vaughan Williams, this traditional hymn gets the royal treatment from the opening fanfare, to a fugue, to a very powerful ending that will bring the house down.


Battle of the Washita – a programmatic work depicting Custer’s famous “Battle,” which could be more aptly described as a massacre. Beginning at dawn and proceeding through the attack (Custer brought a band along to play “Gary Owen”), then the killing of 800 horses, to the final march back to Fort Supply, Oklahoma, this piece is chilling and brings to light a dark period of American history.


The Black Sea – The Black Sea has been a region of conflict for centuries. This piece is aggressive, involving mixed meter and lots of percussion. The inspiration is from a poem by Robert Bly: “Ah, on this planet we are born again and again. A gold sun rises in the East, but for us, it is a black sun. Each time the black sun rises, dazzling and tremendous, its sadness flows into us. ‘If this sadness could not flow out ofme, it would kill me.’
I listen and I see a horse-dragon swim up out of the Blak Sea. It climbs into the air. Play on, play on- what can we do but long for this dragon-water from the Black Sea to fall on us?”


Evensong for Rilke – inspired by this poem from his Book of Hours

You are not surprised at the force of the storm-
you have seen it growing.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
The immense loneliness begins.

Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be the earth now, and the evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.


Fanfare Magnificat – This stately march, with chorale section, was inspired by English brass band traditions and has moments of power and beauty. The main theme is borrowed from the first four notes of Flourish for Wind Band and Toccata Marziale by Ralph Vaughan Williams, in respect for years of inspiration. Great for a concert opener, contest, or commencement.


Gateway Overture – St Louis is often called the “Gateway to the West,” and in honoring that spirit, it expresses that feeling of hope and potential. This is the first piece I wrote upon arriving in St Louis. After a brief canonic opening introducing the primary theme, Gateway Overture moves into a quick march-like statement with the backdrop of a full percussion section. Ostinatos throughout the ensemble make this a very accessible piece for younger ensembles.


Illuminations: Visions of Hildegard Von Bingen – The Illuminations of Hildegard von Bingen were paintings of her mystical visions in which she saw the human being as a representation of the entire universe. She was a shining light in the Dark Ages. Using fragments of her chants, Gackstatter adds a powerful rhythmic accompaniment creating a haunting, yet driving work with some aleatoric passages. Part two of the Dark Ages Trilogy


The Land (from the Grouse Creek Symphony) – Extracted from Gackstatter’s a larger work, Grouse Creek Symphony, based on landscape art of the vast central plains of America, The Land is wondrous in its expanse and scope, often upbeat and fun yet sometimes somber. This work is an expression of the many moods and majesty one finds simply by looking out to the lands surround us. Very Copland-esque.


Lullaby for Evangelina – is a hauntingly beautiful arrangement of the popular tune “Hush, Little Baby” for solo flute and band. Gackstatter employs some unique effects throughout the piece, such as humming wine glasses and quiet vocal whispers. Written to honor the birth of Evangelina Brown (daughter of Tony and Jennifer Brown), Evangelina is a “rainbow child,” meaning a child born after a miscarriage, in this case twins. My sister Patty and I are also twins as well as “rainbow” children.


The People (from Grouse Creek Symphony) – A subtle beginning leading to an exciting motive and up tempo tune defines this classic piece by Gary Gacksttter. The People features a memorable melody with exciting treatment of percussion as well as woodwinds and brass. Jump aboard the fiddle express, The People will take you on an enjoyable ride.


The Sky (from the Grouse Creek Symphony) – one part of a larger work based on landscape art of the vast central plains. The prairie sky is wondrous in its expanse and scope, always changing and inspiring. This work is an expression of the many moods and majesty one finds simply by looking upward.


There Was A Pig Went Out To Dig (Grainger) – This delightfully rollicking Grainger tune has been masterfully set for wind band by Gary Gackstatter, freely tossing the melodies around the ensemble and remaining true to Grainger’s quirky & descriptive style markings.


The Water (from Grouse Creek Symphony) – The Water opens with a lush chorale in the woodwinds. A peaceful, rolling 6/8 follows conjuring up images of a running stream running through the Flint Hills of Kansas.


Gargoyles – premiered at MMEA with Clayton HS Band under the direction of Rob Nichols, this piece is about the symbolism and legends about Medieval gargoyles!


Grade IV
Aztec – Inspired by the Aztec Death Whistle used in pre-Columbian Aztec warfare, this piece is an exciting work using the death whistles in very strategic parts. Not for the faint of heart!


Flying – Exciting addition to any program, featuring the flutes and an open percussion jam. Inspired by this poem by Rilke: If I don’t manage to fly, someone else will. The Spirit cares only that there be flying. As to who happens to do it, in that he has only a passing interest.


Here Be Dragons – As the title implies, you are about to enter a realm of mystery and excitement! Ancient cartographers labeled unexplored regions on their maps as “terra incognita” and in one instance wrote Here Be Dragons, signifying the peril that lay ahead. Experience the adventure of such a place through music and unusual sounds with this creative and imaginative work. The third part of the Dark Ages Trilogy.


Nimus Capulus (Too Much Coffee) – Written to be a percussion showpiece in a Latin style, Nimus Capulus is fast, frenetic, and fun—a challenge for the entire group. With a fugue in the middle section for the woodwinds, optional open percussion improvisations, and brass shouts throughout, the piece gives everyone a chance to shine. By the way “Nimus Capulus” is Latin (of course!) for “too much coffee.”


Silly Circus Suite: Music for an Imaginary Cartoon – conjures up images of an animated cartoon of a rather low-budget circus, complete with tumblers who are in sore need of more practice, a ballerina who could use a diet, as well as their imaginary audience. A piece of exaggeration and fun, conductors are encouraged to take liberties and go for expression and comedic effects.


Path of Totality – Before scientists could predict a total eclipse, there were many instances of madness and even death from the chaos caused by the sun disappearing. Path of Totality tries to capture the feeling the ancients must have felt seeing such an omen in the sky: the opening moments of anxiety descending into hysteria, then the gratitude felt as the light returns..


Journey of the Spirit –


A great resource for sheet music: Midwest Sheet Music