Musical wildflowers herald spring at Purdue Bands' 'Windworks'
Anticipating the arrival of spring, Purdue University Bands’ offers musical wildflowers at its Windworks concert set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St.
Three concert bands fill the free program with works that address the exuberance of life. Percy Grainger’s “Lincolnshire Posey,” which the composer describes as “musical wildflowers,” serves as the concert’s centerpiece.
University Concert Band, guest directed by Purdue Bands graduate assistant Matthew Conaway, will present three of six movements from Grainger’s collection of “wildflowers” or folk songs – “Lisbon Bay, “Horkstow Grange” and “The Lost Lady Found.”
“The piece has a lot flavor, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever conducted before,” says Conaway who’s fascinated by Grainger’s approach in “Lincolnshire Posey.”
In the early 1900s, the idea of nationalism stirred Grainger and other European composers to look to folk music for their inspiration. Grainger was the first to go into the countryside and use a wax cylinder phonograph to record the music he found there rather than write it down by hand. Each movement of “Lincolnshire Posey,” written in 1937, is inspired by a different folksong he recorded in Lincolnshire, England.
“Grainger was very fond of this particular set of pieces. He tried to make each movement reflect the character and personality of singer, as well as the way they performed the piece,” says Conaway.
“Every movement is in a completely different style. The first one is light. It feels like a march. The second is a beautiful chorale, and the third is true dance song. The only thing that’s repeated in them is the melody. But every time it’s presented there’s a different accompaniment figure. It never sounds the same twice.”
While wind band was a favorite choice for Grainger as a composer, the 19th century German classical composer Richard Strauss never wrote for it. One of his songs, “Allerseelen,” has been transcribed for band by Albert Davis, however, and will be also be performed by University Concert Band along with two contemporary works - Philip Sparke’s lively “Festival Fanfare” and Charles Rochester Young’s “Tempered Steel.”
Young pays tribute to the human spirit in his work. “As we grow stronger and more resilient through hardship, we become ‘tempered.’ This work is a celebration of our triumph over these unavoidable hardships and obstacles we regularly face,” the composer says. “It rejoices in the tenacious and unrelenting resolve that is a part of us all.”
Director of Bands, David A. Leppla, directs University Concert Band for these pieces. Filling out the Feb. 24 program are sets by Collegiate Band, directed by Bill Kisinger, and Varsity Band, directed by Pamela J. Nave.
Robert Sheldon’s “Hill Country Holiday,” and Claude Smith’s “The Distant Trumpet” are among the works to be presented by Varsity Band, while Collegiate Band’s program is highlighted by John Phillip Sousa’s “Riders For the Flag” and Steven Reineke’s “River of Life.”
All three Purdue concert bands will be featured in concert again on April 20 as part of the Purdue Bands Showcase. The free 8 p.m. concert will be held in Elliott Hall of Music.