The Lawrence University Wind Ensemble performed their only concert for Winter Term on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The theme of the concert was “Perspectives” and included works ranging from Mozart to a 2017 piece on the topic of school shootings.
The first half of the concert consisted of “Serenade No. 10 in B-flat (‘Gran Partita’)” by Mozart. This selection included faculty members along with students in a small chamber music setting. Associate Professors of Music Nora Lewis ’99 on oboe and David Bell on clarinet, Instructor of Music Carl Rath ’75 on bassoon and Assistant Professor of Music Ann Ellsworth on horn played alongside members of the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble.
In addition to faculty members and current students, alumnus Emmet Jackson ’18 on double bass also performed in the first half of the concert in the Mozart piece. Following the “Gran Partita,” a brief intermission was held.
Following intermission, Assistant Professor of Music Matthew Arau ’97 began to conduct the group. Arau was a guest conductor for this concert, for typically Associate Dean of the Conservatory and Professor of Music Andrew Mast conducts the Wind Ensemble. Mast did conduct the first and the final two pieces.
Arau, conductor of the Lawrence Symphonic Band, guest conducted for this concert cycle due to the logistical struggles of Mast conducting for the opera as well. Arau selected and conducted two pieces, “Fanfare Ritmico” by Jennifer Higdon and “The Eyes of the World are Upon You” by Jennifer Jolley.
Jolley was inspired to create “The Eyes of the World are Upon You” after reading an article about guns being allowed on Texas campuses. The bill allowing students and faculty members to carry concealed handguns into university buildings was put into effect on the 50th anniversary of the University of Texas (UT) Tower Shootings.
This shooting at UT Austin was America’s first campus mass shooting. It took place on Monday, Aug. 1, 1966, and 17 people were killed during the killing spree. As noted in the Perspectives program, Jolley wrote “The Eyes of the World are Upon You” with the intent that “This piece is a celebration of life: to those who died that day, but also to those survived.”
Senior Liam McDonald and fifth-year Emma Reading spoke prior to the performance of “The Eyes of the World are Upon You,” describing the emotional process that went into rehearsals. Preparing this sensitive piece opened up discussions about modern violence as well as the process of grief. Arau encouraged circle rehearsals, in which students would sit in a large circle not necessarily in their respective sections. These circle rehearsals encouraged discussions as well as different emotions and potential portrayals of the piece.
Following “The Eyes of the World are Upon You,” the ensemble played “The Spheres” by Ola Gjeilo, which was performed without a conductor, forcing the musicians to be much more attentive to each other’s movements. This lack of a conductor also created an environment of collaboration, which modeled a typical classroom discussion, during rehearsals. The concert concluded with “Dionysiaques” by Florent Schmitt.
Mast referred to the concert cycle as a project and a great endeavor of collaborations amongst students, faculty and conductors. Although the theme of perspectives was chosen retroactively, the pieces and the ways they were all performed fell neatly into this idea. Following the concert, audience members were encouraged to share their perspectives or responses to any of the pieces on post-it notes that were provided in the programs.