By Steve Hodges
Challenger Band Series
Azure Hills is a lyrical ballad that presents the band with many opportunities for expressive playing. The theme is lightly presented by the flutes, then followed by another statement in the trumpets with added textures in the accompaniment. The second statement features some interesting harmonies by the woodwinds before leading into a very expressive final presentation of the melody with an added woodwind countermelody. A stirring variation and development leads to a very effective and climactic ending where melodic motives are passed from section to section as the piece winds down to a quiet, reflective conclusion.