Nov 15, 2018

Wind Symphony

There is a live stream of this event on Nov 15, 2018 at 7:30pm

Wind Symphony

Wind Symphony

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Composed of the most outstanding wind, brass and percussion students in the College of Music, the Wind Symphony is dedicated to performing the finest wind repertoire in performance at Macky Auditorium.

Performance date and time: 

Thursday, Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m.

Program: 

Joan Tower: "Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, No.1"; James Syler: "Love Among the Ruins"; Igor Stravinsky: "Symphonies of Wind Instruments"; Zhou Long: "Concerto for Wind Symphony: Ancient Echoes" 

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Program Notes

Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, No. 1

Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, No. 1,
was inspired by Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and employs, in fact, the same instrumentation. In addition, the original theme resembles the first theme in the Copland. It is dedicated to women who take risks and who are adventurous. Written under the Fanfare Project and commissioned by the Houston Symphony, the premiere performance was on Jan. 10, 1987, with the Houston Symphony, Hans Vonk, conductor. This work is dedicated to the conductor Marin Alsop.

—Note by the composer

Love Among the Ruins

In recent works, I’ve become interested in music that creates a space for contemplation and a journey between two points. The subject in this work is love as a timeless force—its continuation in our lives beyond the grave, throughout

time and space and amidst the personal loss, difficulties or ruins of our lives. The title is from the poem Love Among the Ruins by Robert Browning. This is not a concerto in the traditional sense, but rather a work that features the viola for its color, expressivity and voice within a narrative; that narrative is left to the listener. I use a transformational technique where music that appears in the beginning is gradually transformed into new ideas, which are then transformed

into even newer ideas. It is always evolving as
a metaphor for love as a transforming force. It also borrows from a previous work titled Fields that I’ve always felt there was more to say before and after it. The phrase by the Roman poet

Virgil seems to have become appropriate for this work—Amor Vincit Omnia (“Love Conquers All”). —Note by the composer

Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles, Miles and miles
On the solitary pastures where our sheep

Half-asleep
Tinkle homeward thro’ the twilight, stray or stop As they crop—
Was the site once of a city great and gay,
(So they say)
Of our country’s very capital, its prince
Ages since
Held his court in, gathered councils, wielding far Peace or war.

Now the country does not even boast a tree, As you see,
To distinguish slopes of verdure, certain rills From the hills

Intersect and give a name to, (else they run Into one)
Where the domed and daring palace shot its spires

Up like fires
O’er the hundred-gated circuit of a wall Bounding all
Made of marble, men might march on nor be prest
Twelve abreast.

And such plenty and perfection, see, of grass Never was!
Such a carpet as, this summer-time, o’er-spreads And embeds

Every vestige of the city, guessed alone,
Stock or stone—
Where a multitude of men breathed joy and woe Long ago;
Lust of glory pricked their hearts up, dread of shame
Struck them tame;
And that glory and that shame alike, the gold Bought and sold.

Now—the single little turret that remains On the plains,
By the caper overrooted, by the gourd Overscored,

While the patching houseleek’s head of blossom winks

Through the chinks—
Marks the basement whence a tower in ancient time
Sprang sublime,
And a burning ring, all round, the chariots traced As they raced,
And the monarch and his minions and his dames Viewed the games.

And I know, while thus the quiet-coloured eve Smiles to leave
To their folding, all our many-tinkling fleece
In such peace,

And the slopes and rills in undistinguished grey Melt away—
That a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair Waits me there

In the turret whence the charioteers caught soul For the goal,
When the king looked, where she looks now, breathless, dumb

Till I come.

But he looked upon the city, every side,
Far and wide,
All the mountains topped with temples, all the glades’
Colonnades,
All the causeys, bridges, aqueducts,—and then All the men!
When I do come, she will speak not, she will stand,
Either hand
On my shoulder, give her eyes the first embrace Of my face,
Ere we rush, ere we extinguish sight and speech Each on each.

In one year they sent a million fighters forth South and North,
And they built their gods a brazen pillar high As the sky

Yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force— Gold, of course.
O heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns! Earth’s returns

For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!
Shut them in,
With their triumphs and their glories and the rest! Love is best.

Symphonies of Wind Instruments

In 1908, on the death of his beloved teacher Rimsky-Korsakoff, Igor Stravinsky responded
by composing a work in his memory which was conceived in terms of instrumental ritual and
which he afterwards remembered as the best work of his early period—the Chant funebre —later, unfortunately, lost. Ten years later, the death of
his admired colleague, mentor and friend Debussy caused him to write another memorial composition which stands among his most characteristic and influential masterpieces—the Symphonies of
Wind Instruments, dedicated “To the memory of Claude Achille Debussy.” Debussy died on March 25, 1918. Stravinsky’s earliest sketches for the work that become the Symphonies, including
most of the principal motifs, date from July 1919 and are scored for harmonium. In April 1920, he was invited to contribute a piece to a Debussy memorial supplement of the new musical journal La Revue musicale, and in June he wrote the
final chorale (which had not been among the original sketches). Between July and November, he composed the whole work and scored it for
24 woodwind and brass instruments. The work
is not a “symphony” in the accustomed sense; Stravinsky went back to the word’s ancient connotation of groups of instruments sounding together, and used the plural to indicate that the music is made up of several of these instrumental colloquies. He described it at various times
as “a grand chant, an objective cry,” and “an austere ritual which is unfolded in terms of short litanies between different groups of homogenous instruments.” The overall form of the piece is an apparent challenge to all previously accepted canons of musical architecture. It is a kind of mosaic, made out of discrete blocks of contrasting material, separate yet interlocking, in different but closely related tempi. Stravinsky’s description of the music as a “ritual” however gives the clue to its expressive nature: this is an instrumental liturgy, a burial service, the chorale rounding off the proceedings in something like a Byzantine Alleluia. In this sense Symphonies of Wind Instruments is the forerunner of such later Stravinsky works as the Mass and Requiem Canticles.
—Note by Malcolm MacDonald

Concerto for Wind Symphony: Ancient Echoes

Concerto for Wind Symphony: Ancient Echoes is my first large-scale work for symphonic winds.
It is based on the ancient epic Nine Odes by Qu Yuan (c. 340-278 BC). Throughout the creative process, I realized that this was not just an ancient epic about the Sidian ceremony; I was deeply affected by its romantic rhyme as well. I gained a newfound appreciation for the work of poet Qu Yuan, who borrowed the imagination

of the gods to express his deepest thoughts
and feelings of love (except in the first and last chapters, which are carols). His poetry helped establish both a musical tone and a set of ideas for the entire symphonic epic. This piece is based on the beauty of the poetic rhyme in these Nine Odes. To me, they are odes to humankind, God and earth; this is the idea I pursued while composing. Ancient Echoes includes six movements featuring a variety of instrumental combinations. The second movement, The Ruler within the Cloud, and the third movement, To the Lord of the River Xiang, feature the woodwinds and percussion, while the rest of the movements rely on the full wind symphony to evoke manyvivid musical characters. These characters reflect dualities within the Han-Chu culture: ancient yet new, elegant yet natural, all while entertaining the human, praising God, and offering odes to the earth. The opening movement, Dong Huang Tai Yi (“The Almighty Lord of the East”), usesa bright, full sound and a dance-like rhythmic horn call. The second movement, Xiang Jun (“To the Lord of River Xiang”), I integrated the upsand downs of a Hunan folk tune into the solo woodwinds; here, the musical mood gradually becomes a light allegretto. It’s like a soaring ina dream. The music eventually aligns with the meaning of the verse as it calms down into deep thoughts of love. The fourth movement, ShanGui (“The Goddess of the Mountain”), is like a piece for a capella choir. I always felt that the wind ensemble is simply an enlarged choir. The fifth movement, Guo Shang (“For Those Fallenfor the Country”), pertains neither to God nor a single person, but to all fallen heroes. Guo Shang segues immediately into the finale, Li Hun (“the Last Sacrifice”), which is also performed with full force. This attacca approach fuses the ode to the heroes with the final divine comedy, which in turn achieves the climax of the whole epic.

—Note by the composer

Featuring

Donald J. McKinney

Director

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Read Bio for Donald J. McKinney

Resources

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