Bob Levy’s last concert as Wind Ensemble director will be nothing short of spectacular. The concert will feature the premieres of three works, along with a performance from saxophone soloist Sara Kind, winner of the 2003-04 Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition.The most expansive piece to be performed will be a symphony by Marty Robinson, a Lawrence alumnus. Robinson, originally from Neenah, was a trumpet student under Levy during his time here. The symphony is Robinson’s doctoral thesis, written for the degree he received from Florida State University. Robinson did his master’s work at the Eastman School of Music under Fred Sturm, who is the current director of jazz studies here at Lawrence. Next fall, Robinson will return to Wisconsin as trumpet professor at UW-Oshkosh.
Perhaps the most personal piece of the evening will be Prof. John Harmon’s “For the Love of the Game.” The piece, written specifically for this occasion, is dedicated to Levy and his life-long love of baseball. Harmon and Levy have been close friends for over 20 years, and both are passionate baseball fans. This piece aims to reflect different aspects of the game, as well as some great moments in baseball history. For example, a section subtitled “The Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff” is about the 9th-inning home run that won the NY Giants the pennant in 1951.
The piece is full of rich harmonies and expressivity reminiscent of Copland, especially in the more intimate sections. Of this, Levy says, “For me, the most poignant moment in the work is a slow lyrical section John calls ‘A Rookie Longs for Home,’ where he captures the loneliness a young player away from home for the first time might feel.”
This concert will also feature a new work by a current student. “Over my twenty five years at Lawrence I’ve been impressed with several student composers,” says Levy, “and in a couple instances I have approached them about composing a work for wind ensemble, in this case with Jonathan Roberts.”
Roberts, a senior, is a music theory/composition and theatre arts major. His piece, “Blessing,” is the first work he has written for wind ensemble. Roberts’ biggest challenge while composing this piece was keeping it simple. “There are just so many possibilities with wind ensemble music,” says Roberts. “I went through four drafts, and each time I revised the piece I had to simplify more and more.”
“Songs Without Words,” by Charles Rochester Young, is a very fitting piece to be included in Levy’s last concert. It was actually written last year for the retirement of the wind ensemble conductor at UW-Stevens Point, James Arrowood. The piece was commissioned by a consortium of 12 Wisconsin colleges and universities. This concert will premiere the work with Arrowood in attendance.
Finally, this concert will feature Lawrence junior Sara Kind playing a concerto for saxophone and wind ensemble by the Dutch composer Henk Badings. She won the Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition during first term, and has been preparing for this performance since then. Several students auditioned for the concerto competition, but, as Levy says, “Sara clearly stood out as the winner. She is a terrific musician, extremely dedicated and conscientious. It has been a joy working with her!”
Don’t miss your last chance to see Bob Levy and the Lawrence Wind Ensemble this weekend. Thanks to its impressive repertoire, high caliber players, and energetic conductor, this concert will surely be one to remember.
The Lawrence University Wind Ensemble, conducted by Bob Levy, performs this Saturday, May 15, at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel.