World Premiere of Andrew Boysen Jr.’s new piece “Prometheus” takes the McHenry County Honor Band to a new level

By Ally Jorgensen

On Saturday, Jan. 25, Woodstock North High School hosted its 44th Annual McHenry County Honor Band Festival. Students in the McHenry County area were selected to play in the band after a short audition process. They then participated in a long three days of rehearsal before their performance. Many of the student musicians participating were from our own, Huntley High School. 

After a few days of long, strenuous rehearsals, the students put on an outstanding performance. 

The pieces played at the concert include “Persephone Overture,” composed by the guest conductor and commissioned composer, Andrew Boysen Jr., “Xerxes,” by John Mackey, “Odysseus and the Sirens,” by Dana Wilson, and the world premiere of Boysen’s new piece, “Prometheus.”  

Boysen, the current director of bands at the University of New Hampshire, was hired to compose a piece for the event as well as conduct the band. 

While in the process of composing his new piece, Boysen explained that he was working with lots of unique chord progressions and stumbled upon the story of Prometheus on accident. He decided that he was going to use his story for inspiration. 

In Greek mythology, the Titan Prometheus was known for being a trickster and the giver of fire and metalwork to the humans. As a result of this wonderful gift of fire, mighty Zeus punished him for stepping out of line. Prometheus was chained to a boulder and left for a midday snack to the eagles. It was made sure that his liver was eaten out of him every day for all of eternity. 

Throughout the piece, the different instruments tell the story of Prometheus from exhilarating brass parts, distinct percussion moments, and beautiful woodwind features. 

One truly memorable moment from the piece was the sound of a huge chain being dropped on the floor, echoing throughout the auditorium. The different sounds and styles allowed the audience to visualize the story in their heads. It was like you could see Prometheus struggle as he was chained to his rock of punishment. 

Boysen explained that it is always great to work with talented musicians, and it is especially fun when he gets to conduct his own pieces. 

“It’s always a cool experience to bring a new piece to life,” Boysen said. 

Boysen also expressed that honor bands and premiers are great learning experiences and he would jump at any opportunity to work on music with other people. 

Festivals like these are also great learning experiences and lots of fun for the students involved.

 “It’s just always a blast. Playing with a bunch of other people who are pretty good,” first chair bass clarinetist, Luke Ozimek said. 

Things like MCHB are definitely great for student musicians looking for a little bit of a challenge outside of their regular band class. 

“It’s definitely great to play with a band that is well-practiced [and] well prepared,” first chair bassoonist, Korey Krajecki said. 

Overall, it is safe to say that the concert and premiere was a huge success.