Former Lawrence faculty composer Rogers returns

Devin Burke

This Saturday’s Lawrence University Wind Ensemble concert would have a full program even without its featured piece, Air Mosaic by Rodney Rogers. Guest artist John Harmon will join the ensemble, and the concert will feature not one but two premieres of new works. However, it is Rogers’ return to Lawrence that headlines the concert.Rogers, who now teaches at Arizona State University, taught at Lawrence during the 1990s. During his time here, he started a collaborative relationship with Robert Levy, the director of the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble, which has continued over the years. Levy has conducted many of Rogers’ works, including some of those on Rogers’ CD Complicated Optimism. This CD also features a number of the musicians with whom Rogers worked when he taught here.

Air Mosaic, a piece in three movements, was commissioned in 1991 by the College Band Directors National Association for their 50th anniversary. The organization honored Rogers with the commission based on his previous work for wind ensemble. Distinctive features of the work include the use of antiphonal trumpets and the use of the Southern hymn tune “Prospect.”

Rogers first returns to Lawrence on Saturday, but he will stay until April 7th. While here, the wind ensemble will record Air Mosaic and Rogers will give lessons and a master class to students.

One other works on the program is Alec Wilder’s 1974 Fantasy for Piano and Wind Ensemble. The piece, by far the oldest on the program, shows stylistic traits of many of Wilder’s works, including elements of jazz and improvisation. John Harmon will solo on piano.

The newest composition on the program is David Berkman’s Safety in Numbers. The work was finished just this year and the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble has the honor of performing its world premiere this Saturday. Only slightly older is Sandra France’s The Kroger March, written in 1998. Saturday’s concert will be its premiere performance on American soil.

The concert will take place in Lawrence Memorial Chapel at 8 p.m. tomorrow.