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‘Designer’ symphony highlights Purdue Bands & Orchestra weekend
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
A “designer” romantic symphony and concert band works that do everything from blending the voices of the musicians with the instruments to taking listeners on a musical taxi ride through New York City, provide unique experiences in a pair of Purdue Bands & Orchestra’s concerts on March 1 - 2.
Windworks II features University Band and the Purdue Concert Band at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 1, in the Long Center. On Sunday, March 2, the Long Center is the also the site for the Purdue Symphonic Band’s and Purdue Orchestra’s 2:30 p.m. concert “Romantic & Contemporary Classics.” Both are free.
Orchestra conductor Andrew King introduces a “designer” approach to symphony music by taking movements from four different romantic era symphonies and presenting them in one package.
The first movement of Mahler’s “Symphony No. 5 in C Sharp” will segue into the second movement of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7 in A Major” followed by the third movement of Brahms’ “Symphony No. 3 in F Major.” The finale from Hanson’s “Symphony No. 2” brings the package to a close.
King says his unconventional approach reflects looser concert standards of the 19th century when much of the romantic music the orchestra is performing was written.
The idea of symphonies “being sacred and not clapping between movements is a modern thing,” he says. “They would not have looked at it that way at all.” Still, putting four different movements together is a step beyond the Romantics.
King decided to try the approach because it gives his student musicians a chance to work on symphonies by multiple composers. Both the young musicians, and the audience, get a chance to compare and contrast styles. “The melodic material in each of the first three movements we’ll perform is very similar in the way it’s constructed. I almost wonder if Mahler was thinking about Brahms when he wrote his symphony,” King says. While there are similarities, there are differences that stand out too.
Mahler’s music is descriptive with lots of life and death philosophy imbedded into the music, King says. “Beethoven is all about the notes. The meaning is the notes. There is no extra meaning.”
Along with the orchestra, the March 2 concert features the Purdue Symphonic Band directed by Jay Gephart. Among the works they’ll present are “Radiant Joy” by Steven Bryant, “Symphonic Dances” from Fiddler on the Roof and Frank Ticheli’s “Wild Nights.” Professional trumpeter Joey Tartell will solo on Claude Smith’s “Rondo for Trumpet.”
The “Windworks II” concert on March 1 also has its share of unusual works. University Band, under the direction of Jessica Beall, will perform Dana Wilson’s “Sang!” which calls upon sections of the band to vocalize at various times during the piece. They will also perform Richard Saucedo’s “Into the Clouds” which describes the experience of flight from a pilot’s point of view. Flight from a different perspective comes in James Curnow’s “Where Never Lark or Eagle Flew.”
Descriptive pieces dominate the Purdue Concert Band’s portion of the March 1 program as well. The inspiration for Andrew Boysen’s “A Fallen Leaf” comes from a late winter snow storm that dislodges the lone leaf clinging to the tree outside the composer’s office. “Somehow this leaf had survived the whole winter to fall with spring only days away,” says the composer. “The event continues to strike me as a tragic metaphor for individual struggles, often unsuccessful, that occur in all our lives.”
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