Lawrence bands tell stories in “Vignettes”

On Friday, April 15, the Lawrence University Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble came together in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel to present a program entitled “Vignettes.” Conductors Matthew Arau ‘97 and Andrew Mast chose each piece in the program with the intention of telling a story.

The Lawrence University Symphonic Band, conducted by Arau, began the concert with “Shortcut Home” by Dana Wilson, published in 2003. Its dissonant fanfare and changing meters provided listeners with an intriguing and appropriate opening to the program. The Symphonic Band then performed Vincent Persichetti’s “Divertimento for Band” composed in six short movements, where each movement represented a part of a larger picture. Lively conducting from Arau as well as expressive solos from many different members of the Symphonic Band made this piece an audience favorite. The Symphonic Band then continued with “Four Scottish Dances” written by Malcom Arnold and arranged by John Paynter. Its highlights were guest harpist Tammy Naze and a lovely solo by sophomore and oboist Manuel Ferreira. This piece’s last movement was a lively dance whose exciting end rounded out the Symphonic Band’s set and marked the end of the concert’s first half.

The Lawrence University Wind Ensemble, conducted by Mast, opened the second half of the program with “D’un Matin de Printemps” composed by Lili Boulanger and arranged by Francois Branciard. This piece truly showcased the Wind Ensemble’s ability to play busy, technical passages as well as more expressive, whimsical ones. The Wind Ensemble continued their set with “Mojave” by Michael Torke, which featured alumnus Mike Truesdell ‘07 on marimba. “Mojave” was a smooth, rhythmic dance, whose ending showcased Truesdell’s technical abilities, even though the piece harnessed Truesdell’s more finessed, engaging style most of the time. The Wind Ensemble finished their set and the program itself with “Emblems” by Aaron Copland, a standard. Mast explained that the composer, Aaron Copland, once described emblems as “symbols, or meanings for other things,” but eventually expressed that it is up to the listener to decide what an emblem means to them. The piece featured rich, vivid textures and bright, full sounds. Its hopeful and lively ending closed the concert fittingly.

“Vignettes” featured both the collaborative creativity and solid leadership of Mast and Arau, while exhibiting the artistic and technical abilities of each ensemble. The works chosen provided listeners with a story from start to finish –- and a delightful, diverse one at that.