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Exciting Ticheli pieces enliven
Purdue Bands Showcase
Five unique concert band works by Frank Ticheli – from “Angels in the Architecture” to “Vesuvius” – will be featured in the opening concerts of the annual Purdue Bands Showcase weekend, April 20-22.
Ticheli, a popular contemporary composer, will rehearse with all five of Purdue’s concert ensembles and guest conduct them in free performances at Elliott Hall of Music. The Purdue Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band are featured at 8 p.m. Friday, April 20. Varsity Band, Collegiate Band and Concert Band are featured at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 21.
The weekend wraps up with a free performance by the Purdue Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 22, in Elliott Hall of Music.
Ticheli finds inspiration in widely different mediums from ancient Roman festivals to magical, mischievous images of Halloween, from the birth of his first child to Emily Dickinson poetry.
Jay Gephart, Director of Bands at Purdue, purposefully picked a wide variety of works for audiences to enjoy.
Friday night audiences will hear the Symphonic Band, under the direction of Ishbah Cox, perform Ticheli’s “Wild Nights” while Gephart’s Wind Ensemble will tackle “Angels in the Architecture” with guest soprano soloist Karen Goff from the Bach Chorale.
“Wild Nights is a musical journey inspired by the Emily Dickinson poem of the same name. “Throughout the piece, even during its darker middle section, the music is mercurial, impetuous, optimistic. A jazzy syncopated rhythmic motive permeates the journey. Unexpected events come and go, lending spontaneity and a sense of freedom,” Ticheli says. “Surprises are found at every turn, and continue right through the final cadence.”
“Angels in the Architecture” unfolds as a dramatic conflict between the two extremes of human existence – one devine, the other evil. It begins with Goff singing a 19th century Shaker song “I am an angel of Light.” In opposition, “turbulent, fast-paced music appears as a symbol of darkness, death and spiritual doubt,” Ticheli says. “These shadows sneak in almost unnoticeably, slowly obscuring and eventually obliterating the light altogether. The darkness prevails for long stretches of time, but the light always returns, inextinguishable, more powerful than before.”
Saturday night audiences will hear “Joy Revisited” performed by Varsity Band, “Abradacabra” performed by Collegiate Band and “Vesuvius” performed by Concert Band.
“Joy Revisited” is one of a set of tunes inspired by a singular event – the birth of Ticheli’s first child. “The intense feelings that most any father would feel on such a day were, in my case, accompanied by a simple little tune which grabbed hold of me in the hours preceding her birth and refused to let go throughout the day and many days thereafter. Until I jotted it down in my sketchbook it did not release its great hold on me.” Seven years and two children later he stumbled upon that old sketch and used it for an experiment.
“I endeavored to compose un-identical twins, two sides of the same coin. ‘Joy’ is for young players. ‘Joy Revisited’ is for more advanced players. It moves faster, develops ideas further and makes use of a wider register.”
As for “Abracadabra,” Ticheli says: “Throughout this composition I was thinking about magic, not in an evil or frightening sense, but as a source of fun and fantasy. My wonderfully playful, sometimes mischievous young son was always in the back of mind, as were images of Halloween with its costumes and jack-o'-lanterns.”
“Vesuvius” began in the composer’s mind as a wild and passionate dance, like one that might have been performed at an ancient Roman Bacchanalia. According to Ticheli: “As it grew more explosive and fiery, the piece evolved to become more like a dance from the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii, destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79.” A final battle of themes builds to a state of extreme agitation, conveying the chaos of the volcanic explosions and suffocating ash.
The Ticheli tunes will be packaged on the concerts with a variety of other tunes. Some of those planned for Friday night are Leroy Anderson’s “Buglar’s Holiday, an Artie Shaw “Clarinet Concerto” featuring Cameron Cecil and Michael Daugherty’s “Fever” from Lost Vegas. Saturday’s concert also features “The Echo Never Fades” by David Gillingham, “Variations on a Korean Folk Sun” by John Barnes Chance, “Centoaph” by Jack Stamp and Symphonic Dance No. 3 “Fiesta” by Clifton Williams.
The Purdue Philharmonic and Purdue Symphony Orchestra, both directed by Andrew King, conclude the weekend of music with a free 2:30 p.m. Sunday concert at Elliott Hall.
The Symphony begins the afternoon with George Bizet’s ‘L’Arlessienne Suite No. 1.” Best known as the composer of the opera Carmen, Georges Bizet composed incidental music to Alphonse Daudet’s play L’Arlésienne (The Girl fom Arles) in 1872. The play was a failure, with critics complaining that there were “too many overtures,” that Bizet’s music overpowered the drama. Bizet rescued some of the best music and assembled two suites. Two of four movements of L'Arlésienne Suite No. 1 will be performed – the “Prelude” and “Carolan.”
It will also perform Frederick Delius’ “Walk to the Paradise Garden” from Romeo and Juliet and Felix Mendelssohn’s “Hebrides Overture: Fingal’s Cave.”
Highlighting the Philharmonic’s set is Sergei Rachmaninov’s “Symphony No. 2.” The symphony marked a return to popular acceptance for Rachmaninov whose first symphony, composed in 1897, was savaged by critics. He was so affected by the comments that ten years passed before he attempted “Symphony No. 2.” In its Adagio movement, Rachmaninoff’s signature romanticism is heard in the violins’ opening melody, which could easily serve as a cinematic love theme. In the 1970s, pop singer Eric Carmen wrote a hit song based on this theme, - “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again.” Besides Rachmaninov, the Philharmonic will perform Richard Wagner’s “Trauermusik, Paul Hindesmith’s “Geshwindmarsch by Beethoven,” and Marcel Tournier’s “Feerie.”
The Showcase weekend is sponsored by Purdue Bands & Orchestras which offers a variety of free concerts. For more information www.purdue.edu/bands
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