The Murray State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble will present its annual President’s Concert on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at 8 p.m. in Lovett Auditorium on campus. This will be the third performance by the ensemble this fall.
Dennis L. Johnson, MSU director of bands and orchestra and conductor of the wind ensemble, notes that the concert program is demanding, yet varied. “We have really hit the ground running this semester with appearances at Night of Stars and the department’s Collage Concert, but now it is our chance to shine. I think the audience will truly enjoy the variety of works we have scheduled.”
The President’s Concert has come to symbolize a salute to the students, staff, faculty and administration of Murray State University as the new school year unfolds. “It’s basically a musical tribute to all the various agencies of the university who do such great work day in and day out,” Johnson said. “The wind ensemble and I are extremely proud to be a part of this tradition”.
Opening the concert will be the “march” from Symphonic Metamorphosis by Paul Hindemith. Written originally for orchestra, the composer himself asked that a wind band arrangement be undertaken for which his colleague at Yale University, Keith Wilson obliged. “It’s an exciting and challenging march,” noted Johnson, “and was the concluding movement in the larger work.”
David Gillingham’s Waking Angels features a smaller version of the wind ensemble with the addition of piano, synthesizer and varied percussion. The work was inspired by the poem, Mercy, by Olga Broumas. It is one among a collection of poems on the subject of AIDS by various poets called Poems for Life. Through the imagery of music, Waking Angels emanates the mysteriousness, the pain and the ruthlessness of the disease. “It also provides us with the warmth and comfort of hope and the peace of eternity,” said Johnson.
The full wind ensemble returns to the stage for a lighter work called Smash The Windows. The work is based on a traditional Irish jig with the same name. To quote the composer, “it is a work that moves rapidly forward, never stopping until the unique ending.”
“After such an emotional work as the Gillingham, I figured we just needed some good rollicking fun and this piece provides that,” noted Johnson.
A world premiere follows with the wind ensemble performing Boris Pigovat’s Idyll. Pigovat was born in Odessa, U.S.S.R., but immigrated to Israel in 1990. He has since won many awards for his compositions both in his country and throughout the world. About this work Pigovat writes, “I wanted to depict an incredibly beautiful and calm place which is completely detached from our anxious world. I wanted to embody (in sound) the atmosphere of appeasement and oblivion.” The wind ensemble has previously premiered works by Pigovat including, Song of the Sea at its 2005 appearance in Carnegie Hall.
Concluding the concert will be In Wartime by Pulitzer Prize winner David Del Tredici. Originally written at the onset of the second Gulf War, the work is divided into two parts – Hymn and Battlemarch. Musical material superimposed over the hymn, Abide with Me, gives the listener the impression of soldiers in prayer before battle. A long drum roll announces the “battle” with the ending section building to a momentous climax. “I programmed this last since we won’t have anything else to give after this piece,” observed Johnson.
The Murray State Symphonic Wind Ensemble has gained a national and international reputation due to its many invitations to appear at state and national events and, most recently, at the famed Carnegie Hall in New York City in the spring of 2005.
The ensemble also appeared as a feature ensemble at the International Wind Band Conference in Manchester, England. The group was selected to perform for the College Band Director’s National Association Convention (CBDNA) in February of 2006 and in the spring of 2009 the ensemble will appear in a special invitational concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Tuesday’s concert is free and the public is urged to attend.