Wind Symphony

Wind Symphony

Nov 11, 2021

Wind Symphony

Join the Wind Symphony for their final concert of the semester. Featuring Roger Zare’s captivating “Mare Tranquillitatis,” Ida Gotkovsky’s enthralling “Poème de Feu,” CU Boulder Professor of Composition Carter Pann’s “Labyrinth” and Omar Thomas’ “Come Sunday.”

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Performance date and time

Thursday, Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m. MST

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Zare: Tranquilitatis; Pann: Labyrinth; Gotkovsky: Poème du feu; Thomas: Come Sunday

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Program notes

Mare Tranquilitatis

Roger Zare (b. 1985)

I was commissioned in the summer of 2007 by Jeffrey Bishop to write a short piece for his string orchestra at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Kansas City. They premiered the string version of this work on February 12, 2008. In 2012, a consortium of wind ensembles around the United States commissioned a transcription of this work for band, and it was premiered throughout the 2012-2013 season. In 2016, I arranged this work for saxophone ensemble. In 2018, upon meeting Nomad Session, I arranged this piece for wind octet, which they premiered during in the fall of 2018. During the summer of 2019, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, I arranged this work for clarinet choir.

Mare Tranquillitatis translates to “Sea of Tranquility,” and is the famous location on the moon where Apollo 11 landed and the first man set foot on the lunar surface. The music seeks to capture a dichotomy of emotions—tranquil beauty and restless isolation. All of the musical material is derived from only two ideas—the descending fourth heard in the opening bar, and the flowing and surging melody heard not long after. These two ideas trade back and forth within a contrapuntal texture, swelling and flowing as they interact with each other. The music recedes into a quieter realm and a quartet of soloists emerges, juxtaposing the lush full textures with a delicate and intimate passage. After many peaks and dips, the emotional arc of the piece culminates in the long-awaited return of the second theme. It grows and transforms into a sweeping gesture, bringing closure to the pent-up tension from before. What follows is an epilogue, and the piece ends with one final tender moment with the solo quartet. —Program note by Roger Zare


Carter Pann (b. 1972)

My new work Labyrinth for Ithaca College could have easily been titled as my Third Symphony. The work is larger in scope than every other work of mine for winds, save perhaps my first symphony. The piece is cast in two parts, each consisting of two movements. As it happened I wrote the movements backwards (fitting for something called Labyrinth). The size of the band is on par with that of Karel Husa’s Music for Prague 1968 with one exception: there is an electric keyboard part which lends certain moments in the piece an “other-worldly” ambience ... sounds that are altogether different from anything possible from acoustic instruments.

At the risk of sounding obvious or mundane, I have had two words floating around my brain for the composing of this piece—HUGE and melodic. My predisposition to create inherently melodic music is inescapable at this point in my career. This is the kind of music I have gravitated towards since beginning at the piano so long ago. I don’t write ambient or spectral music ... nor do I write music full of effects or shock value. The crafting of melodies with import has always made the process of my composing the most satisfying. The very last movement of Labyrinth is gargantuan and should leave the audience and players sonically drenched by the end.

I’m so honored to have this opportunity to compose for Ithaca College’s 50th anniversary of that seminal work of Karel Husa’s. I have known Music for Prague for as long as I’ve known serious music for winds. It is my aim that every moment of Labyrinth offers the players as much to bite their teeth on as it leaves the audience mesmerized from front to back. —Program note by Carter Pann

Poème du feu

Ida Gotkovsky (b. 1933)

Ever since the beginning of man, Fire has been particularly revered. Legends on its origin abound, each one conferring upon it a sacred feature; legends making of Fire a link between Creature and his Creator.

Thus the Celtic tradition brings us a myth close to Zarathustra’s: During the ceremonies heralding in the new-year, men would light two hearths. The first one which had been watched and honoured all the year round would be coming to its end, while the second, according to the memorial and magic process composed by the two celestial and earthly elements, gave birth to the new Fire.

When the two glowing furnaces were blazing in all their splendour, the entire village, men, flocks and herds, in a long procession passed between the two Fires: The two movements of the poem. Everyone rejoiced to have mastered this divine gift.

This vision has inspired the composer. Poème du Feu is an original work for large wind orchestra. It is composed then of two movements.

The first movement—Maestoso—is a Fire of gigantic proportions, the Spring of life which makes us relive the first moments of creation.

The second movement—Prestissimo—being at the heart of human achievement, is a power of revelation, an impetuous power which raises man to level of demiurge and which finishes in the Fire apotheosis and, in this way, granting Prometheus’s wish. —Program note by Ida Gotkovsky

Come Sunday

Omar Thomas (b. 1984)

Come Sunday is a two-movement tribute to the Hammond organ’s central role in black worship services. The first movement, Testimony, follows the Hammond organ as it readies the congregation’s hearts, minds, and spirits to receive The Word via a magical union of Bach, blues, jazz and R&B. The second movement, Shout!, is a virtuosic celebration—the frenzied and joyous climactic moments when The Spirit has taken over the service. 

The title is a direct nod to Duke Ellington, who held an inspired love for classical music and allowed it to influence his own work in a multitude of ways. To all the black musicians in wind ensemble who were given opportunity after opportunity to celebrate everyone else’s music but our own—I see you and I am you. This one’s for the culture! —Program note by Omar Thomas

This event will be available both in-person and via livestream. We advise arriving early to secure a seat. Seating is general admission on a first-come-first-served basis.


Donald J. McKinney

Read Bio for Donald J. McKinney


Derek Stoughton

Graduate Teaching Assistant

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