“¡Bienvenidos!” celebrates Hispanish Heritage month

Symphonic band and wind ensemble performed a joint concert in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month in Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Photo by Taylor Blackson.

This past Saturday, the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble played a concert dedicated to Hispanic Heritage Month and performed some contemporary pieces, including a piece by George Gershwin. The concert was titled “¡Bienvenidos!”, which means “Welcome!” in Spanish. The first act was made up of three pieces performed by the Symphonic Band conducted by Assistant Professor of Music Education and Associate Director of Bands Matthew Arau. In regard to the concert name, the concert indeed felt incredibly warm, energetic and welcoming.

The Symphonic Band performed three tunes, the first being “Conga del Fuego Nuevo,” an incredibly lively opening piece that certainly woke the audience up and set the tone for the remainder of the concert. The tunes were accompanied by remarks from the conductor about each piece and the importance of honoring this particular culture and heritage.

The second piece, titled “My Consciousness…,” was a beautiful and expressive piece about the composer’s and his wife’s process of falling in love. The piece was written by Daniel Montoya, Jr. Anyone who has ever been in love would be completely caught up in this piece, as I was.

This piece was followed by an arrangement of pre-Columbian folk music. Titled “Sinfonía India,” written by Carlos Chávez, it was arranged from collected indigenous music from South and Central America. It was invigorating and eye-opening — probably the least accessible piece on the program, but also the most interesting. I am inspired that the conservatory is trying to keep these musical traditions alive. This last piece was followed by an intermission and following that the Wind Ensemble took the stage, with Kimberly-Clark Professor of Music, Professor of Music, and Director of Bands Andrew Mast taking over conducting.

The first piece, “Cuban Overture” by George Gershwin, was extremely entertaining. In the middle of the piece, there was a wild drum solo performed by three percussionists that lasted several minutes; it really helped get the audience re-engaged after intermission. The drum solo, just like the piece itself, draws on indigenous rhythmic and melodic traditions.

Next up was “Five Miniatures” by Joaquin Turina, which uses many different moods and settings in a short amount of time. The miniatures are comprised of “Promenade,” “The Approaching Soldiers,” “The Sleeping Village,” “Dawn” and “Fiesta.” All of these evoke a nostalgia for a different time and place, no matter whether that time and place is specific to the piece itself or not.

The Wind Ensemble closed out the night with “Fandangos” by Roberto Sierra, another rousing Latin piece that leaves one with a rush of joy and energy that is perfect for a fall weekend. I hope Lawrence ensembles continue to highlight particular cultures that are underrepresented in the conservatory and music education in general. This performance showed that they can accomplish this and deliver a sensational performance along the way.

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