Last month we announced the winners of the “Take Your Music Further with Garritan” composition contest. This week we’ll meet another of the winners, Bojan Hoover, who received a runner-up prize for his composition Sagarmatha. Bojan is an instrumental music teacher at Rosemount High School in Rosemount, MN, a drum corps veteran, and an active percussion performer.
I recently caught Bojan between class to talk a little about the contest, Finale, and his music.
Scott Yoho: What was your introduction to Finale?
Bojan Hoover: My band director in high school first introduced me to Finale my freshman year. He required us to download Finale Notepad and write something with it as an introduction to notation software.
During my junior year of high school my parents bought me the full Finale 2003 version. Then I started getting a little more serious, arranging pieces for percussion ensemble and music that I could play with my friends. Now I use Finale when I write or arrange music for the marching bands and drumlines that I teach.
SY: Can you tell me about your creative process on this piece?
BH: I’m a percussionist by trade. Whenever I write something new, I go to my marimba and start writing from there. I initially downloaded the motif and started playing around with that, seeing what type of keys it could be played in, seeing what time of tempos it could be played in, different types of ornamentation, how it could be extended.
Once I located a key, I started to write a baseline ostinato on the marimba that worked well with the motif. From that point I began to layer in other voices and discovered different ways in which I could sneak the theme back into the piece.
SY: Where does notation enter your process? Do you scratch things on paper first?
BH: I go straight to software. I try to formulate a few ideas in my head before I start writing it down, and then enter them into Finale so that when I layer different parts together I can hear what they sound like. Some things I’ll write in Finale, and some things I’ll come back to the marimba to write. Occasionally I will play along with Finale’s playback system and experiment with different harmonic or melodic lines.
SY: Are there certain composers that influenced this piece or your work in general?
BH: I have a strong marching percussion and drum corps background, so I’m influenced a lot through that activity. And also as a percussionist, some of the larger names in the percussion world, like Nebojsa Zivkovic, Ney Rosauro, Keiko Abe—those famous composer/percussionists who compose and perform their own music. They influence how I perform, so in a sense, they influence how I write too.
This piece was written for band with the hopes that one of my bands could play it. This is the first band piece I’ve ever written, so I might also cite some composers that have written specifically for the band idiom like Gustav Holst, Percy Granger, and David Maslanka. I wouldn’t say that my music sounds like theirs, or is trying to imitate theirs, but they are composers whose music I listen to and enjoy performing.
SY: Tell me a little more about what bands you teach:
BH: I teach band, grades 9-12: It’s one of the larger band programs in the state. We have more than 400 students in band. There are three full-time directors and we team-teach a lot. We have six concert bands, I teach two of them, and we co-teach the marching band, jazz band, and pep band. I also teach low brass lessons, percussion lessons, and percussion ensemble.
SY: I don’t imagine this leaves too much time for composition.
BH: I don’t write as much as I would like, but I was glad I was able to put this piece together in time to submit it.
SY: We are too! Where were you when you learned you were a contest winner?
BH: I was actually at school. I knew it was going to be announced that day, so I checked on my lunch break. I opened up the window and there I was.
SY: Were you in the secret teachers lounge?
BH: I was just in the band office.
SY: When I was a kid, we believed that the teacher’s lounge (which was forbidden territory) was really spectacular—like the Bat Cave, only with pool tables, pinball machines, and bowling lanes—all the good stuff.
BH: We might have that; I’m just too busy to look for it!
I’d like to thank Bojan for taking the time to talk with us. If you have a minute, share your thoughts with us by clicking on “Comments” below.