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Excitement is ‘Promise of
Living’ at Nov. 20
Drawing from one of America’s best known contemporary composers, Aaron Copland and his “Promise of Living,” the Purdue Wind Ensemble and Fall Concert Band explore a wide variety of works with promise at its Sunday, Nov. 20 concert.
It is set for 2:30 p.m. at the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St. Admission is free.
Composers in the 20th and 21th centuries tune into everyday experiences as they compose and the Nov. 20 concert is full of the descriptive works that result from that process. The Purdue Wind Ensemble, directed by Jay Gephart, performs the title work “The Promise of Living.” It comes out of Copland’s only full-length opera, The Tender Land (1952-1954) which tells the story of a young girl, Laurie Moss, who grows up on a Midwestern farm and is about to leave home. Closing the first act, “The Promise of Living” is a hymn of gratitude for life, the land and the spring harvest.
Living up to its promise to provide other experiences, the Wind Band will give the audience a ride on a turbo scramjet and a chance to raft on the Rio Grande River. William Pitts “Turbo Scramjet” is named for an experimental engine developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA. “Scramjets are both fast and extremely unpredictable, and I wanted to incorporate these characteristics into the music,” says Pitts.
“The driving nature of the rhythm is relentless and, in many spots, unstable. The middle section is more subdued and focuses on the calm experienced during a smooth flight,” he says.
“Eventually, all parts remerge and the rhythmic drive returns. After the gradual build to the climax, the momentum relents until the final punch.”
There’s another thrill ride in “Rio’s Convergence,” by Justin Freer, a piece that refers directly to one of the world’s great rivers - the Rio Grande. “Throughout its life, from north to south, from the smashing gorges of Colorado to the sublime panoramas of Texas, this life-giving water offers tranquility, brute force and a sense of high-spirited adventure for those who seek it,” says Freer.
“For me, music always tells a story, even if unintended by the composer, and with ‘Rio’s Convergence’ I aim to capture what it might feel like to experience that mighty river.”
Other pieces on the Wind Ensemble’s portion of the program include “Radio Waves,” a patriotic march by Fred Jewell, the “Star Puzzle March” by Soichi Konagaya which has the musical motifs of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” threaded through it; and Henry Fillmore’s “Rolling Thunder” an extremely popular march from the early 20th century which became a circus band standard and was played whenever an act was particularly exciting.
Opening the Nov. 20 concert is the Fall Concert Band under the direction of Steve Cotten, the Director of Bands at Harrison High School. Its program promises different types of adventures. Their major work is Robert Jager’s “Third Suite,” composed in 1966 and performed regularly in contests and festivals, as well as on concert band programs, globally. This three movement pieced dedicates a section to the march, one to the waltz and another to the rondo.
Among other tunes, Fall Concert Band will also perform “See Rock City” by Brant Karrick that fuses elements of rock, jazz, and funk styles into an homage to the quirky sense of humor found at the “Rock City” Tennessee attraction as well as Lookout Mountain’s breathtaking beauty.
The entire concert is sponsored by Purdue Bands & Orchestras.
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