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Wind Ensemble collaborates, connects

Amelia Perron

The Wind Ensemble Concert on Fri., April 20, while offering a variety of music, will emphasize connections and the collaborative process, according to conductor Andy Mast.
The concert will feature collaborations with Associate Professor of Music Matthew Michelic, university organist Kathrine Handford, and Professor David Becker.
The preparations will include a rehearsal with the composer of one of the works on the program.
Michelic, professor of viola, and Handford, professor of organ and harpsichord, will be performing prominent roles in Frank Martin’s “Ballade.”
“It’s almost a trio between the viola, harpsichord and harp,” Mast noted, “with just a wind accompaniment.”
The bulk of the virtuosic work will be taken on by Michelic.
“The viola soloist is challenged by writing that, although in an extremely high register, must soar effortlessly above the texture of the ensemble,” Michelic observed.
He added, “A critical and very difficult role is that of the harpsichord, played beautifully by our faculty artist Kathrine Handford.”
“Martin’s skills as an orchestrator are outstanding,” Michelic explained. “The listener hears some very beguiling sonorities in this work due to unusual combinations of instruments and pungent harmonies.”
While a viola and wind ensemble performance may seem unusual, it’s not new for Michelic. “This is my second opportunity to play the work with the Wind Ensemble,” he said, “as we performed the work here in the mid-1990s.”
Becker’s contribution to the concert will be to conduct Barber’s “First Essay,” a piece originally written for orchestra.
The collaboration with Becker is one that Mast has pursued for some time.
“Since the first day he got here I knew I wanted him to work with the Wind Ensemble,” Mast said.
“I stalked him until we found a date,” he joked, adding that Becker was equally eager for the project.
A third major collaboration is “Anahita,” by Roshanne Etezady. Mast met Etezady a few summers ago and they kept in touch enough that Etezady sent Mast a recording of the piece, both her first work for wind ensemble and her doctoral project.
“It was completely arresting,” Mast recalled. “When I first got her recording I listened to it three times straight.”
“The piece has interesting things for every member of the ensemble,” Mast commented, “not just a trumpet solo or a flute solo.”
“There’s also a great rhetoric to the piece,” he continued. “The second movement is an engaging scherzo-like movement, while the third movement is more of the adagio,” he said, contrasting the piece with typical fast-slow-fast structures.
Etezady will come to campus for the dress rehearsal and performance. Said junior tuba player Beth Wiese, “It should be a really good experience getting feedback from the composer herself.”
The final work is “Piece of Mind,” by Dana Wilson.
“This is my personal favorite for this concert,” Wiese continued. “The piece is very neat conceptually – the movements are centered around really basic ideas: thinking, remembering, feeling and being.”
“The ‘Remembering’ movement has flashbacks of jazz – almost like stream-of-consciousness,” Mast added. “It’s an inventive piece.”
“It will be a fun concert,” he concluded. “Everything has connections.