Looking at the program for the University Wind Orchestras’ concert on Tuesday, I knew it would be a good one. Rachmaninoff, Bernstein, along with names and compositions I didn’t recognize, but was wholly eager to hear. On the stage, I noticed they had brought out the big guns: the contra bassoon. For those of you who aren’t bassoon players like myself, the contra bassoon is basically the Holy Grail of the reed instruments.
The concert opened with the most contemporary piece of the night: Octarine Spark by James M. David. Written in 2009, Octarine allowed for the wonderful display of swelling brass, flittering and precise flutes and clarinets, a strong stomping bass section, and a punchy percussion. From the first build to the final percussive crash, the piece was captivating. Then they moved on to the most classically beautiful piece of the night, Vespers, Op. 37 by Sergei Rachmaninoff, performed with all of the gentle grace and powerful beauty of the God he wrote it about.
Then they moved on to the second movement of Jeremiah by Bernstein, titled Profanation which was described by the conductor himself as “dance-like in a creepy way” and certainly fit the bill. Then the sophisticated and multi-culturally influenced El Muro (The Wall) by Ricardo Lorenz. Sinfonia No. 4 by Walter S. Heartley, which over four movements beautifully explored the depth and range of each voice in the Wind Orchestra. It concluded with The Wild Rumpus by Stephen David Beck. A Turkish styled piece with odd dissonance and a stomping energetic feel, depicting parts of the wild rumpus of the Wild Things from the much loved story Where The Wild Things Are.
“Most of the time the Wind orchestra concerts put me to sleep. But I was wide awake for this one.” One of my music major friends commented to me after the concert. Indeed, falling asleep was not an option during this concert. Altogether, it was enchanting. The contemporary pieces had both power and finesse, enough to enchant and inspire. Looking around Ruby Diamond, I felt the audience was much too small for such a grand display of art.
I had a professor once tell me that there was no need to go to New York or London and hear their philharmonic orchestras. The bands that we have here at FSU are just as good, in his opinion. The students in those programs work day in and day out, hours and hours of rehearsal often for just one big performance. The chance to hear them should not be passed up. While they’re not quite the New York Philharmonic, they are probably the closest you can get without leaving Tallahassee, or possibly even the state of Florida.
I could go on for far too long praising the bands of FSU and the musical experiences they provide, but I’ll leave you with some information. The Symphonic Orchestra has their concert this Saturday, October 11th. The Symphonic Band performs the following Monday, October 13th. Both, I’m sure, are going to be spectacular concerts you won’t want to miss. The rest of the performance schedule can be found at the College of Music Box Office (room 101 in the Westcott Building) or online.
by ROBERT COCANOUGHER / staff writer
Below is a video of the 2013 FSU wind orchestra performing “Apollo Unleashed” from Ticheli’s Symphony No. 2