2019 – 2020 Season
All concerts are Sunday at 3 PM
at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library
33 Marrett Road, Lexington MA.
Concert 3, March 15, 2020
“The Mountain, the River, and the Sea”
We open with the River: Percy Grainger’s Spoon River, an American Folk Dance. Though the theme dates from Illinois in 1857, it is undoubtedly derived from Scotch-Irish dance tunes. In Grainger’s ever-creative hands, the simple two verses grow in richness, with his interesting harmonies and counterpoints, his unexpected surprises, and his zany interjections that we’ve come to know and love.
Next, the title piece of the concert is the world premier of a new composition by Kevin Krumenauer, whose Shadowlight was featured on our concert of March 10, 2019. The Mountain, The River and The Sea is a concerto for clarinet and wind ensemble, built on the challenge that the solo clarinetist, Artistic Director Matthew M. Marsit, should be able to lead the ensemble from the solo position.
Finally we will perform John Mackey’s first and only symphony, Wine-Dark Sea: Symphony for Band (2014). The name refers to Homer’s Odyssey, but scholars have puzzled over why the sea should be the color of wine: was it an incorrect translation from the ancient Greek? a lack of a word to describe a certain color? a tribal color-blindness? Whatever the case, the three movements (I. Hubris; II. Immortal thread, so weak; and III. The attentions of souls) describe the travels and travails of Odysseus, victorious in the Trojan War, but destined to pay dearly for his hubris.
Concert 2, December 15, 2019
“Folk and Film”
“Now for something a little different!”
The Charles River Wind Ensemble generally doesn’t present Pops concerts – our mission is to bring our audiences the finest of the contemporary wind literature. And this is certainly not a Holiday Pops concert where you’d hear Jingle Bells, Sleigh Ride, and other traditional seasonal favorites!
Instead, we explore “Pops” in terms of its meaning as popular music – music of the people. Of course that points directly to folk music, and in today’s world the music that accompanies films can also be viewed as a (perhaps quite sophisticated) form of folk art.
We begin with two short favorites by Percy Grainger, the Irish Tune from County Derry (“Danny Boy”) and Shepherd’s Hey. Even these simple folk tunes derived from traditional English country song, with Grainger’s ever-creative treatment, become entertaining adventures for musician and listener alike.
Our first film experience is the Harry Potter Symphonic Suite in which the magical scenes of J.K. Rowling’s beloved novels are matched by the musical magic of composer John Williams. From Harry’s owl Hedwig, to the Nimbus 2000 and a game of Quidditch, and dear old Hogwarts, you’ll re-visit Harry’s world. Continuing in the film idiom, we enter the musical world of Spirited Away, the fabulously successful Japanese animated film where a 10-year-old girl enters into the spirit world of the witch Yubaba (if you haven’t seen it, don’t wait another minute!).
Next, Jay Kennedy’s Dark City takes us into the futuristic urban dystopia of Fritz Lang’s expressionist science fiction drama, Metropolis. The mood brightens with Aaron Copland’s suite from The Red Pony, based on the John Steinbeck novella. Copland himself made the wind band transcription from his own film score.
We close the program with the 1937 composition Mannin Veen, a classic original band score based on tunes from the Isle of Man. It skillfully varies tempo and tone as it treats four favorite Manx folksongs.
2019 – 2020 Season: Concert 1, October 20, 2019
“The Sum of Our Parts”
The Mercury album containing the Eastman Wind Ensemble’s recording of the Persichetti Symphony, conducted by Ensemble founder Frederick Fennell.
• Marco Pütz, Three Sketches for Band
• W.A. Mozart, K.361, Serenade #10 in Bb Major, “Gran Partita”
• Vincent Persichetti, Symphony No. 6
Luxembourg-based Marco Pütz (1958 — ) has composed over 85 works, primarily for wind instruments and for Symphonic Wind Band, but also a musical for children, a string quartet, several compositions for chamber/symphony orchestra and a number of educational pieces. His Three Sketches for Band (1994) was designed to be played by a “fanfare band” – essentially a brass band plus saxophones and percussion (there is also a version for full wind ensemble).
Mozart’s Serenade #10, known by its nickname “Gran Partita,” may well be considered his greatest work for wind instruments. It is certainly the largest, both in terms of ensemble (12 wind instruments plus string bass and unusually large group for the era) and duration (7 movements comprising some 45 minutes of music). It is scored for pairs of oboes and bassoons, four clarinets (of which the lower two voices may be played by basset horns), four horns, and string bass.
Symphony No. 6 for Band, Op. 69 by Vincent Persichetti (1915 – 1987) is one of the most significant landmarks in the wind literature. Composed in 1956 on commission for Washington University in St. Louis, it can be regarded as the second wind symphony by a western composer (the first was Paul Hindemith’s 1951 Symphony in B-flat), and the first by an American. Compositions such as these helped to establish the wind band as a serious musical medium on a par with the symphony orchestra.
The Symphony’s traditional four-movement design belies the richness of innovation and scoring within. The ensemble is rarely brought to full-force tutti; instead, ever-changing combinations of instruments act almost as chamber groups within the overall context. The work is also notable for its novel use of both pitched and unpitched percussion to introduce melodic and rhythmic elements.
Persichetti’s Symphony No. 6 for Band was last performed by the Charles River Wind Ensemble on December 6, 2009, in a concert featuring mostly American composers. The performance was preceded by In Memoriam Vincent Persichetti, composed by one of Persichetti's students, Jacob Druckman.
Webmaster’s personal note: I began playing clarinet in the 4th grade, but didn't really practice or play much until a new band director appeared in my 9th or 10th grade. Frank B. Wickes had just graduated from the University of Delaware with a double major in clarinet performance and music education. He introduced us to the Eastman Wind Ensemble and its incomparable series of Mercury recordings under the direction of its founder Frederick Fennell. And one of the very first pieces we listened to was the Persichetti Symphony. It was simply a revelation: a whole new soundscape, new and different sonorities, all beautifully executed. This formed my concept of ideal wind music and wind performance. To return to this Symphony so many years later, and to re-consider what this music, and the wind ensemble concept, have meant to me ... it’s the enduring power of music!