Wind Ensemble gears up for Chicago tour –ama

Amelia Perron

The posters advertising the next Wind Ensemble are not a joke: The group really does have a concert Saturday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. in the chapel, just three weeks after their last performance.
“It’s kind of like building a house in a week,” director Andrew Mast remarked.
Furthermore, it won’t be a particularly easy program.
Saxophone player Mike Barnett observed, ” The Gates [piece] isn’t hard, exactly.”
“It’s just that the publisher decided to print it in C-flat instead of B for that part with the runs,” said the junior — a notational choice that makes a hard part harder.
But Mast, still riding on the momentum of the last successful concert, is all confidence. “It always comes together,” he said.
The short concert cycle is just another way to challenge a strong group of musicians. “I strive for variety,” he explains. “Our next concert isn’t until April.”
The program itself also offers variety. While the last concert featured music for film and theater, this program is summed up by its title, “Flights of Fancy.”
“It’s not a theme, exactly,” said Mast. “It’s what evolved. One of the main pieces on the program is called ‘Icarus and Daedalus: The Fantasy of Flight,’ by Keith Gates, and there’s also a piece called ‘Three Fantastic Dances,’ by Turina.”
The Gates caught the interest of euphonium player Alison Boguski. “It has a dreamy, fantasy-like mood to it,” the sophomore described, “and there is an awesome tuba solo near the beginning.”
It’s a good concert for awesome tuba solos: Teacher of Tuba Marty Erickson will be performing a concerto by Bruce Broughton. “He’s terrific,” said Mast of his colleague.
Erickson’s students are effusive in speaking of their professor. “Marty is a very charismatic performer and a big name in the tuba world,” said junior tuba player Beth Wiese. “It should be a great performance.”
Boguski is equally impressed by Erickson’s teaching. “I am amazed by his technique and discipline, but I am also amazed by how he is always happy and very encouraging,” she said. “He is not only a supportive teacher, but a phenomenal player.”
Wiese went on to describe the concerto. “The Broughton has a very contemporary feel and is pretty technical as far as tuba solos are concerned,” she observed.
“Also, he chose the Broughton to commemorate the recent death of Tommy Johnson — a big time studio tuba player and teacher — for whom Broughton wrote the work,” she added.
“[Erickson] could have played any of about 20 pieces that he has ready in his repertoire,” Mast remarked. “But this one is near and dear to him because it’s dedicated to a friend and colleague.”
While the name “Bruce Broughton” may not carry quite the weight that John Williams’ does, having written a number of award-winning scores he’s “actually a big dog in Hollywood and L.A.,” according to Mast.
Other pieces on the program include a work by Jules Strens, “a Belgium composer who probably no one’s ever heard of,” Mast observed.
“His ‘Danse Funambulesque’ is kind of a combination of Debussy and ‘Rite of Spring,'” he said with a laugh.
There will also be a set of three marches. “We have a Sousa march, a slow piece by Wagner, and a piece by Prokofiev,” said Mast, closing out a diverse program.
“We’ll be taking this entire program when we go on tour to Chicago in March, as part of the Focus on Chicago initiative,” Mast explained. “It should be fun and accessible for all.