I’ve been looking forward to this CBDNA convention for ages. Nature had other plans for me, however, so my planned arrival on Wednesday has to wait until Thursday. Thus, I was only able to catch tonight’s concerts via the very convenient live stream at BandDirector.com. Below are my impressions of the music, absent movement names, performer names, or any sort of program notes.
Morning Star – David Maslanka – Already established in the repertoire, a jaunty melody that is perhaps Maslanka’s most energetic piece.
The Butterfly Chaser – B. J. Brooks – Owes something to impressionism, alternately technical and lyrical, absolutely paints the picture that its title suggests.
Freebirds – Scott McAllister – Uses chords from Lynyrd Skynyrd “Free Bird” and sticks a virtuosic (INCREDIBLE) clarinet duet over it. The repeated chords, though, beg the question: Is this Pachelbel’s Canon for the rest of the band?
Liminal – John Mackey – An Air Force Band commission that I’m sure I saw Mackey describe as “theoretical” on a Facebook post. Meter is in constant flux, percussion is in constant motion.
War and Peace – Michael Daugherty – A dramatic piece that is colorful and forceful to start, (and thus sounded like war). Naturally the bassoons ushered in the peace, which was equally colorful with some minimal elements and lyricism.
Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral – Richard Wagner (arr. Cailliet) – This is an all-time classic transcription. It is also one of the top posts on this site, which you can read here to learn more about the piece.
The University of Kansas Wind Ensemble came next. Their program included:
A Glimpse of the Eternal – Aaron Perrine
La ville d’en haut – Olivier Messiaen
Knells for Bonnie – Joel Puckett – Flute soloist Sarah Frisof was amazing in this achingly lyrical and beautiful piece.
Symphony no. 4: In the Shadow of No Towers – Mohammed Fairouz – I did not catch this one, but KU has played it before and documented it well, which you can read about here.
This morning, there was flight drama, but I got here in time to catch at least some of the concerts in person. I missed Ball State University, who played the following:
Ernst Toch – Spiel fur Blasorchester
Paul Dooley – Mavericks
Chin Ting Chan – Falling Stars (premiere)
David Maslanka – Concerto No. 3 for Piano and Wind Ensemble
The late afternoon concert featured Cynthia Johnston Turner and the Hodgson Wind Ensemble from the University of Georgia. Their very unique program included the following:
Oiseaux Exotiques – Olivier Messiaen – While I recognize the detail and craft that goes into Messiaen’s work, I have a lot of trouble connecting with it on a human and artistic level, and this series of bird calls was no exception. This ensemble played it with vigor and conviction.
Beacons – Peter Van Zandt Lane – This imaginative piece was quite evocative of the programmatic content (thanks Brian Diller for the memory assist).
Honeycomb – Cody Brookshire – This one required an app to work! The audience was asked to take out their smartphones and let them play along, creating a mix of live band and antiphonal electronic sounds from the audience.
Concerto for Winds and Percussion – Christian Lindberg – Easily the most conservative piece on the program (though that is not to say that it was conservative), this piece clearly challenged these very fine players, with stunning and engaging results.
The marquee concert this evening featured the Michigan State University Wind Symphony. They played:
Cyclotron – David Biedenbender – This was a coloristic tour-de-force, which tested the extreme sounds that every instrument could make.
Aria from Music for Prague 1968 – Karel Husa – A dark slow movement featuring saxophones from Husa’s seminal work, performed as a memorial tribute.
Antique Violences: Concerto for Trumpet – John Mackey – In four movements, Mackey and soloist Justing Emmerich explored the many ways humans are violent to each other. This piece saw Mackey branching out into colonial and baroque styles in addition to his usual shtick. The program notes by A. E. Jacques (Mackey’s wife) helped bring the piece to vivid life.
Nothing Gold Can Stay – Steven Bryant – Inspired by a line from Robert Frost, this is a lyrical gem.
Petals of Fire – Zhou Tian – This colorful and playful piece suggests a composer with more up his sleeve that we will certainly hear from in the future.
See you all tomorrow!