After spending a good amount of time walking the exhibition floor and connecting with friends and colleagues this morning, I made my to the concert of the Spring High School Wind Ensemble. They played with great precision, especially under their own conductor, Gabriel Musella. I found their percussion section, with their very demonstrative musicality and clean playing, especially riveting to watch.

Scherzo a la Britten – John Leszczynski

The Garden of Earthly Delights (Act 2, scenes 3 & 4) – Leroy Osmon

Thematic Variations on Dona Nobis Pacem – James Sudduth

Tribute – Robert Rumbelow

Cloud Dancing – Larry Clark

Chant de Noel – Mike Story

Carol of the Bells – arr. Vic Flowers

Twitch – Nathan Daughtrey

Symphony no. 3 (movement 4) – Vittorio Giannini

Old Scottish Melody – Charles A. Wiley

Academic Festival Overture – Johannes Brahms, arr. Patterson

The Gallant Seventh – John Philip Sousa, arr. Bourgeois

The first tune was a technical showpiece that sounded quite hard and never really gelled. The Osmon was primal and riveting – I have written about it previously here. The Sudduth was a great addition to the holiday concert repertoire, with lots to keep the percussion busy and some interesting thematic treatments. The Rumbelow wove together bits of band classics.  The Clark was standard grade 1 fare, while the Story (also grade 1) worked well for the ensemble. The Carol of the Bells was an interesting contemporary arrangement. The highlight of the program came with the Daughtrey, which featured a reduced ensemble with clarinet solo and a lot of energy made up of different ensemble colors. The Giannini is a classic, which unfortunately had some seams showing, and which I’ve written about here. The Wiley was an arrangement of “Auld Lang Syne.” The Brahms was another wonderful technical and musical showpiece. I have also written about the Sousa in the past, here.

This afternoon, epic world-strider Jason Caslor gave a presentation about improvisation in large ensembles. He is working on a database of wind band music that uses aleatory, which is really quite fascinating. You can see his presentation notes at his website.

The final concert of the day featured our hosts, the VanderCook College of Music Symphonic Band, led by Charles Menghini and Stacey Larson Dolan. Every year, I am blown away by how well this group plays after so many hours and days of playing host to this enormous conference.

At the End of the Rainbow – Richard Saucedo

Legacy Fanfare – Jack Wilds

Urban Dances – Eric Morales

Evening Song (Abendlied) – Josef Rheinberger, arr. Shelley Hanson

Serenade for Solo Alto Saxophone and Band – Frank Bencriscutto

Eye of the Hawk – Susan Botti

Russian Christmas Music – Alfred Reed

Cheerio March (Sing and Whistle) – Edwin Franko Goldman, arr. Johnnie Vinson

Speak to Me – Dana Wilson

Evening Song – David Gorham

Jeu de Cartes (II. Jack of Spades) – Bart Picqueur

A Child’s Lullaby – Robert Sheldon

Lost Vegas (III. Fever) – Michael Daugherty

The Saucedo was essentially a minor key jig. The Wilds was a fairly typical grade 2 piece with constructively busy percussion parts. The Morales was built on interesting rhythms and some jazzy harmonies, but it struck me as noisy by the end. The Rheinberger was the big stunner on this concert. It is a new transcription of a gorgeous mid-1800s choral piece that is sure to enter the standard wind repertoire very soon. The sax Serenade would be a fun piece to feature your young band with a distinguished sax soloist. The Botti started as a percussion piece and became something like a rock number. Russian Christmas Music needs no introduction (although I for some reason have yet write about it!). The Goldman was very typical of his march style, with the trio first sung, then whistled, then played. The Wilson was deliciously sparse and rhythmic, and uniquely familiar to me from my experience with at a conducting workshop – read more here. The Gorham was certainly not a grade 1 as stated, but it was a very nice piece to listen to and would work for some level of young band. The Picqueur was basically a jazz band tune with awesome solos by the featured saxophone quartet. The Sheldon was very sweet, and succeeded largely thanks to Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser’s conducting. The Daugherty, with its extremes of color and excellent rhythmic basis, was a perfect way to end the concert and the day.

Just one more morning to go. It’s been a great Midwest!