The following information was received from the Manchester Symphony Orchestra website:
"Manchester Variations" was commissioned by the Manchester Symphony Society in 1985. Composed by Dr. Gary Deavel, it is dedicated to Robert Jones and the Manchester Symphony Orchestra.
Dr. Deavel graduated from Manchester College in 1952, received his Master's degree from the Sherwood Music School (1956), and his Doctorate from the Eastman School of Music (1970). He was the instructor of piano and organ at Manchester College for many years and served as Chair of the Music Department.
He provides the following notes on the Manchester Variations.
In 1977, Patricia Helman wrote the words and I the music for the college song, "Manchester Fair." In these variations I have used six motives from that song. They appear in various melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic disguises -- some more transparent than others. Their order is frequently rearranged. Only in the finale do they unmask and conform to their original shape and order.
The work is comprised of an introduction and five variations. The "Introduction" is in a moderately slow temp and presents the three principal motives and their mirror images. The first variation is a quick "March." The woodwinds are features, backed by drum and triangle. The second variation is an "Elegy." The oboe solo at the outset is derived from the principal motive, but cast in a medieval mode (Phrygian). The third variation features frequently changing meters and is called "Dance." The string motive heard at the beginning and end of the variation is taken from the bass line of the first phrase of the song. The fourth variation is called "Ballad." The bassoon plays a mirror version of the principal motive decorated by an obligato line in the violins. The resulting duet features open fourths and fifths -- intervals frequently prominent in country music. The fifth variation of "Finale" begins in a gigue rhythm. The woodwinds, brass and strings each have the gigue figure in turn. The full orchestra concludes with a complete statement of "Manchester Fair." There is a brief coda with references to the "Fight Song" (oboe), "Alma Mater" (flute) and "Manchester Fair" (clarinet).