Purdue’s “Windworks” offers kaleidoscope of concert band music
Music for remembering, music for circus fans, music for sailors, music for folk song lovers and much more can be found in Purdue Band’s annual “Windworks” concert on Saturday, Feb. 19.
Set for 8 p.m. at the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St., Lafayette, the free concert features the Varsity, Collegiate and Purdue Concert Bands in a kaleidoscope of contemporary and classic tunes written for wind bands.
No Purdue “Windworks” concert is complete without John Philip Sousa and his lively “Circus Galop” and “Washington Post March” provide bright musical colors. Ralph Vaughn Williams “English Folk Song Suite” and Clare Grundman’s “Fantasy on American Sailing Songs” offer a more pastel musical landscape.
Striking the concert’s most reflective note is Andrew Boysen Jr.’s contemporary take on a 13 th century requiem mass, “Grant Them Eternal Rest,” that’s dedicated to all those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
Purdue Concert Band director David Leppla says the piece literally stopped him in his tracks the first time he heard it, and made him want to bring it to greater Lafayette audiences.
“I was listening to music on my car CD player to pick tunes for the season when this came on,” he says. “I was so riveted by it I had to pull off the interstate into a rest area so I could just listen to it. I’ve never gotten so caught up emotionally in a piece as I did this one.”
Many compositions have been written in the aftermath of 9/11, but this one stands apart from the crowd. That’s most likely due to the fact that Boysen’s creativity was heightened when the tragedy struck. He had just finalized ideas on Sept. 9, following months of research, for a commissioned piece reflecting on aspects of childhood. Although he was ready to compose it, he threw everything out on Sept. 11 and started over.
“The overwhelming emotions that I experienced on that Tuesday were something that I had never before experienced in relationship to an event outside my personal sphere. I can’t begin to explain them. I simply knew I had to express them somehow,” the composer says.
Leppla feels the finished piece, which Boysen calls “a prayer to bless those who died so needlessly,” to be “one of the most unique works I’ve ever directed.”
Overall there’s a quiet reflectiveness to the piece, but sections marked by bizarre percussion effects - that include using a string bow to draw a ringing sound out of a marimba and a screeching sound out of a gong - definitely capture the full-blown fear and panic of that tragic day.
Besides the spotlight on the Purdue Concert Band’s percussion section, two instrumental soloists will also find themselves in the spotlight – pianist Stefano Chesi, a graduate student in physics, and flutist Elizabeth Darrah, a senior pharmacy major from Dublin, OH. At times band members will also act as a chorus in the piece.
“I’ll enjoy hearing the reaction to this piece,” Leppla says. “A number of university bands around the country are programming it. For a new piece, it’s gained pretty widespread acceptance.”
Performances by the Pamela Nave-directed Varsity Band, and the William Kisinger-directed Collegiate Band set the stage for the Purdue Concert Band at the Feb. 19 event.
Varsity Band’s line-up includes “The Jig is Up” by Daniel Kallman and “Nathan Hale Trilogy” by James Curnow among other works. Collegiate Band performs the Vaughn Williams and Grundman works along with Vincent Persichetti’s “Pageant” and Clifton Williams’ “Symphonic Dance No. 3 Fiesta.”
The three bands will again in featured in concert in April as part of the season finale Purdue Bands Showcase. The performance is set for 8 p.m. April 23 in Elliott Hall of Music. Admission is free.
For more information on Purdue’s bands and orchestra call (765) 496-6785.