Lawrence ensembles prepare “Classics” concert

Olivia Hendricks

Arlen’s soulful sounds fill S.P.A.C.E. (Stephan Anunson)

After just three weeks of preparation, the Lawrence University Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble will present their “Classics” concert in the Memorial Chapel this Saturday, Jan. 23 at 8 p.m., free of charge for admission. The general public is invited to watch as Lawrence Director of Bands Andrew Mast leads the two groups in performing several of the most enduring band masterworks.
Yet while many concertgoers can easily list names of classic orchestral composers – Beethoven, etc. – it is not so easy for most to name classic band composers, much less specific pieces. So what makes a band piece a classic?
Mast explained, “Many of these pieces are classics because they have been in the repertoire for a long time. The serious wind band medium has really only been in existence for 50 to 75 years, so the importance of composers like Gordon Jacob, Vincent Persichetti and Ingolf Dahl relates to the significant literature they wrote at a time when many composers weren’t.”
For the Symphonic Band, these pieces will be Andrew Boysen’s Irish-inspired “Kirkpatrick Fanfare,” Vincent Persichetti’s “O Cool is the Valley (Poem for Band),” and Gordon Jacob’s “William Byrd Suite,” which, with movements like “Jhon Come Kiss Me Now,” clearly has ties to the Renaissance.
In the second half of the concert, the Wind Ensemble will perform Felix Mendelssohn’s “Overture in C for Winds, Op. 24,” Jan Sweelinck’s “Variations on Mein Junges Leben Hat Ein End,” and finally Ingolf Dahl’s “Sinfonietta for Concert Band,” a phenomenally challenging piece.
In fact, when asked about the greatest challenge of preparing for the concert, Mast replied, “Simple: the Dahl. What makes it great is also what makes it hard. His command of orchestration – he actively wrote for television and movies as well – stretches the player in ways that few other pieces do.
Mast continued, “For one example there is a section for clarinet where he wrote a particularly challenging line that would be difficult to execute as a solo line, but he asks that the entire section play it. The effect is amazing but extraordinarily difficult.”
However, Mast also emphasized that the piece “is simply one of my desert island pieces – not just in wind band repertoire, but any genre, medium or style. It is a masterpiece that engages the listener and performer through color, style and emotional energy.”
Family and friends who cannot make it to Appleton can simply visit http://www.lawrence.edu/conservatory/webcasts/ to hear the live concert webcast at 8 p.m. And from what Mast had to say about the effort the musicians have put into mastering this music, it’s a concert most will not want to miss.
Mast added, “I am extremely proud of the students in both the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble. They have worked extraordinarily hard to put together what should be an outstanding evening of music in only three weeks, not to mention at the beginning of a term after a long layoff.

Arlen’s soulful sounds fill S.P.A.C.E. (Stephan Anunson)

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