Wind Ensemble takes on the “Great Masterworks

Amelia Perron

With a title like “Great Masterworks,” Friday’s LU Wind Ensemble concert promises a variety of significant works.
The chronologically ordered program opens with Beethoven. Although certainly an expert in the great masterworks department, Beethoven might seem a little out of place in a wind performance. Director Andrew Mast said of the work, “This is part of an ongoing
project to study the chamber music repertoire for winds, and the Beethoven is certainly a cornerstone piece in that repertoire.” The piece to be performed is a wind octet.
Following the Beethoven is Rossini’s “Introduction, Theme and Variations,” a piece featuring clarinet professor Fan Lei. “It’s a great showpiece,” Mast said. “Plenty of slow, expressive parts, but also a lot of really virtuosic material.” The virtuosity has gone over well with the students. “Mr. Fan is spectacularly musical,” says sophomore oboist Ellen Frisbie, “I just want to sit and listen.”
The second half of the program opens with Holst’s “Hammersmith,” a personal favorite of Mast’s – although choosing a favorite “is like ‘which is your favorite kid,'” he jokes. “It’s just a great piece of music,” Mast explains. “There’s always something new.” The piece is one of Holst’s more obscure works. “Everyone knows his first and second suite. But this one, written at the end of his life, is actually one of his better works.” The title “Hammersmith” is the name of the town Holst was from, and Mast describes this piece as a “postcard of affection” for his childhood home.
Next on the program is wind ensemble perennial “Power of Rome and the Christian Heart” by Percy Grainger, a piece Mast noted as being appealing for its “different sonorities.” This is another work on this program featuring a faculty performance, this time by university organist Kathrine Handford. “It’s not an organ concerto,” Mast said, “but it does have a critical organ part.” Lawrence Symphony Orchestra aficionados will remember that two other concerts this year have featured organ. This is no coincidence; last year marked the 10th anniversary of the installation of the current chapel organ, and interest
in making use of the instrument has recently been rejuvenated.
The concert concludes with David Dzubay’s 2002 work “Ra!” based on the Egyptian sun god. This piece, which Mast calls an “active piece,” was a hit with the low wind players. Mike Barnett, a sophomore baritone saxophone player, remarked, “It’s unlike any other piece I’ve ever played – it’s really hard. But really cool.” Sophomore bass clarinetist Miles Vancura explained, “It’s the first time in history that the low winds get to go ‘BRUGH BRUGH BRUGH BRUGH.'”
In conclusion, Mast said that the concert will have great variety. “We’ve got pieces that are 200 years old and two years old and everything in between,” he said. “There should be something for everyone.