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Fantasy Variations (on a theme by Niccolo Paganini), the theme being the 24 caprici op.1 violono the solo, composed by James Barnes in 1989 is a piece for concert band. The difficulty level is grade 5+ to grade 6, so this is a hard piece. Our symphonic band is playing this for a concert in March, and probably for district and/or state contests. This is quite possibly the best piece that I have ever performed. It is both difficult and fun to play, a combination rarely found in an average piece.

It opens with the theme, highlighted by an oboe solo. After that, 20 variations on this theme are played through, thus the name.
Variation I: Basically the theme played, developed to include the entire ensemble, with melody played by the flutes and clarinets.
Variation II: A slower melody, played by the oboes and clarinets.
Variation III: The "Trombone Special." The first comic relief section. The 2nd and 3rd trombones (that's me) play two notes, followed by the 1st trombones playing a high, whiny, glissando, all muted. Four measures in, the contra-alto clarinet plays a very low melody. My personal favorite.
Variation IV: The flutes play a very fast dance-like melody.
Variation V: The next four variations are slow melodies played by various instruments. This one is oboes.
Variation VI: Bassoon.
Variation VII: Clarinets.
Variation VIII: Saxophones.
Variation IX: Speeds up again, melody carried by bass clarinet.
Variation X: Similar to IX, played by clarinets.
Variation XI: Very fast, Russian sounding melody played by trumpets.
Variation XII: Slower, foreboding melody played by trombones.
Variation XIII: Another good one, trombones and saxophones play a duet that sounds like boss music.
Variation XIV: A continuation of XIII. Hardly warrants its own section.
Variation XV: Comic relief #2. Tuba and baritone quartet. Have you ever heard tubas playing (trying to) sixteenth notes?
Variation XVI: This is my least favorite. Bland, boring, little distinct melody.
Variation XVII: Percussion solos. Very fast, very good sounding. Another favorite.
Variation XVIII: Similar to XVII, with flutes and oboes playing melody.
Variation XIX: Sets up the final variation, almost everyone plays the booming melody.
Variation XX: Same as Variation I, ending similar to the beginning.

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