I am home, and the fully remote WASBE blogging begins with a Canada and video game themed day (you’ll see). The remote blogging almost got me into trouble yesterday, as I nearly left out a concert! Today, I will discuss the morning repertoire session and the three concerts. When I don’t know a piece, I will attempt to find a recording on the Internet so as to deliver something resembling and opinion. Today’s repertoire session again featured a Canadian band that is doing double duty as a concert ensemble. Tomorrow’s will be the same. Oh, Canada! The repertoire included:
Visionary for Wind Ensemble by Kenneth Froelich
Miniatures Brasilianes (select movements) by Hudson Noguiera
Motus Agni by Patrick Hahn
Sea Goddess by Hioaki Kataoka
All of these are new to me, which means the repertoire committee is doing a great job! I could find no recording for the Froelich, save one that Gilroy Publications website that required a login for a listen. This is no way to promote music, folks. The bits of Noguiera I heard on YouTube are by turns lyrical and seriously dance-like, and they use the resources of the wind band well. The piece certainly possesses a distinctly Brazilian flavor. The Hahn betrays the composer’s youth (born 1995) with its wandering textures and rapidly shifting colors. It is almost too busy to know what to listen to. Sea Goddess starts with a loud chord and then lets percussion take the lead (mostly) to build a seascape. Its reliance on percussion effects and pretty but unchallenging melodies doesn’t do much for me. It later gets into a groove that sounds like video game music, specifically a Mega Man level.
The first afternoon concert featured the Pacific Symphonic Wind Ensemble led by David Branter, also the stars of yesterday’s repertoire session, making it officially Canada Day at WASBE! Their concert included:
Commando March by Samuel Barber
The Banks of Newfoundland by Howard Cable
Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble by Frank Ticheli (soloist Michelle Anderson)
Connections by David Branter
Pavanne by Morton Gould
Seaquam: A Journey to the Sky by Fred Stride
Commando March sounds like the World War II propaganda piece it was meant to be. It is clever and soldier-y, with a solid and satisfying ending, but it lacks Barber’s famous lyricism. The Cable provides a varied and interesting, if a little bit standard, take on what I’m guessing is a melody from Newfoundland. The Ticheli sounds true to his idiom, yet it also captures well the spirits of its respective dedicatees, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein. I was unable to find a recording of the Branter. David, I would be very happy if you could send one once you have it! Pavanne is a light romp, showing the more pops side of Gould’s well-known compositional skill. The bits of the Stride that I could hear through Amazon’s preview function sounded like percussion effects and moody woodwind solos. I would have to hear more to really understand it, and I can do it if I purchase the PSWE CD on which they recorded it. Clearly, this group has a history with this piece. I hope it shows!
Fall Fair by Godfrey Ridout
Ar-gard by Kitti Kuremanee
Riften Weed by Julie Giroux
Colour Wheel by Malcolm Forsyth
Dreaming of the Masters III by Allan Gilliland (Jens Lindemann, trumpet soloist)
Masque by Kenneth Hesketh
These again were all new to me. Fall Fair is a lively overture like a great many others that we have all heard before. Ar-gard is percussive, expressionist, and rather dark and brutal. It has a very distinctive sound, perhaps indicative of the fact that it is the only band piece (let alone piece of art music period) by a Thai composer that I have ever heard. Riften Wed is based on a town in the world of the video game Skyrim (one of my favorites before conducting study consumed my life). There is a lot to like in the melodic writing, and I WILL be programming this some day. Thank you, Julie, for legitimizing the time so many of us have spent playing this excellent game – I will have to fire up the game and visit Riften again to properly study this piece! I could not find a recording of Colour Wheel. The Gilliland is a romp through various jazz styles that is sure to be thrilling with Jens Lindemann as soloist. The Hesketh is boilerplate concert closer that is by turns aggressive, light, and lyrical.
The Lone Star Wind Orchestra from (where else?) Texas presented the evening’s concert under the leadership of legendary conductor and prolific recording producer (and, little known fact, fellow Connecticut native!) Eugene Migliaro Corporon. While I have never heard the Lone Star players, Corporon’s bands at the University of North Texas are known for their quality sound and precision. Their mostly-American program consisted of:
Circus Overture by William Bolcom
Luminosity: Concerto for Wind Orchestra by Joseph Schwantner
An Gé Fhiáin/The Wild Goose by Ryan George
Bells Across the Atlantic by Adam Gorb
Aspen Jubilee by Ron Nelson
Jungla by Ferrer Ferran
Once again, I am facing a lot of repertoire I’ve never seen before. That is part of the reason we go to (or, in my case now, follow from afar) conferences. The Bolcom is brand new, so no recording exists for me to listen to. Ditto the Schwantner. The Gershwin is an old, light show number that sounds like an interlude. It must mark a good change of mood before the George kicks the band back into high gear. The Wild Goose sounds like a technical tour-de-force for many of the band members. All of these notes do seem to be in service of a program, so they are not wasted, however some sections (on the recording) do seem to be overlong and perhaps a little more challenging than they absolutely need to be.
The Gorb makes fun and interesting use of bell motifs. It seems not quite a fitting entry to the Nelson, whose opening resembles the former piece. Once it gets going, however, Aspen Jubilee settles into a hoe-down-inspired grove. Its middle section is among Nelson’s most beautiful and colorful lyrical writing. The Ferran appears to be set in the African jungle, as the percussion at the beginning do not hesitate to remind us. Parts of it seem a little on the nose for my taste.
Three more concerts tomorrow!