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CWS Concert Review Music of Mysteries, Legends and Ritual

The CWS performed music of mystery, legend and ritual on Sunday, March 3, 2013. Photo by R-M Arca. The Calgary Wind Symphony performed a selection of mysterious and sweeping music on a snowy Sunday, March 3, 2013 at the University of Calgary’s Rozsa Centre. Dubbed "Music of Mysteries, Legends and Ritual", the concert featured Terri Shouldice on flute and Dr. Jeremy Brown on alto saxophone. It also included two premières: the Canadian première of Kenneth Fuch's Rush - Concerto in E flat for Alto Saxophone and the Alberta première of Paul Hart's Cartoon.

Recently, when Dr. Jeremy Brown was conducting the University of Calgary Jazz Ensemble in the United States, he had the opportunity to meet with Daniel Bukvich, who composed the first piece, entitled Voodoo. Bukvich was delighted to hear that the Calgary Wind Symphony was working on Voodoo and promised to send another one of his works.

Calgary Wind Symphony Conjures Vivid Imagery at Calgary Concert

At the downbeat , the Rozsa Centre was draped in darkness, with only the twinkling lights from the music stands and Dr. Jeremy Brown's blue glow-in -the-dark baton. Voodoo painted a vivid picture for listeners.It was as if the audience was transported into the middle of a David Attenborough nature documentary, complete with bird calls and trombone slides to depict swinging monkeys. The rain sticks and flash lights gave the effect of a rainstorm, while the clapping and chanting evoked images of aborginal peoples celebrating a successful hunt.

Charles Griffes' Poem for Flute and Orchestra featured CWS flautist Terri Shouldice. This Impressionistic inspired work offered listeners aural post cards of contrasting scenes. It opened with the low brass instruments. The winds echoed back the theme before the flute's entrance. The languid first theme showcased. The solo flute passages varied from sweeping motives to a mysterious Spanish-infused theme.The applause lasted for several minutes after the performance.

Old Churches by Pullitzer prize winner Michael Colgrass evoked images crumbling, abandoned churches. The melancholy soundscape was peppered with momentary shots of dissonance, created by the aleatoric segments. At times, it sounded like debris blowing in the wind and hitting against broken glass, while the stainless steel mixing bowls sounded like an iron gate clanging against a broken latch.

The final work for the first half, Cartoon by Paul Hart was an absolute treat to hear. Dr. Brown introduced it as a "sophisticated musical stew."

It opened with a lively march, a la Bugs Bunny. The scurrying dialogue between the winds and percussion mimicked a chase à la Tom & Jerry, while the muted trombones sounded an awful lot like the teacher from Peanuts.

The slower middle theme contained Gershin-esque harmonies and sweeping melodies which conjured images of Pepe le Pew on a night on the town. "Music Mysteries, Legends & Ritual" marked what Dr. Brown believed was the Alberta première performance of this entertaining work.

Haunting Flute Music Performed by the Parthenia Flute Choir

The Parthenia Flute Choir under the direction of Wendy Freeman performed at the University of Calgary. Photo by R-M Arca.

Concert patrons enjoyed some otherworldly music in the lobby during intermission, performed by the Parthenia Flute Choir. The flute ensemble, under the direction of Wendy Freeman, performed Eric Ewazen's Harmony in Blue and Gold

Comprised of four movements, Harmony was inspired by James McNeill Whistler’s "Peacock Room" located at the Smithsonian Institution's Freer Gallery. Eric Ewazen composed this work for Femme Flutale.

A Canadian Premiere and a Rarely Performed Work at the CWS Concert

The Calgary Wind Symphony delivered the Canadian première performance of Rush - Concerto for E flat Alto Saxophone, American composer Kenneth Fuchs. This demanding work featured Dr. Jeremy Brown on saxophone and Wendy Freeman as the conductor.

The first movement, "Evening" opened with a saxophone solo that featured long soulful tones. The ensemble soon joined in with a grand sweeping theme. As the saxophone continued to play a pensive melody, the flutes and percussion played carefully placed notes, depicting stars lighting up the sky, one by one. The saxophone part traversed the alto saxophone's entire range and showcased Dr. Brown's beautiful tone.

The second movement, "Morning", revealed several contrasting moods. It began with a lyrical sax solo. This soon gave way to a rhythmic passage, featuring the winds in the upper range against a sweeping motif played by the saxophones. As the movement progressed, the music featured more syncopated rhythms, pushing towards a dramatic climax.

The music of Kenneth Fuchs is gaining recognition worldwide and has led to successful collaborations. He has worked with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson and the London Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of JoFalletta recorded three albums featuring Fuch's music. The first album was nominated for two Grammys.

Flute Cocktail by Harry Simeone was a light hearted piece. It opened with the flutes playing a Baroque-styled theme, which soon gave way to the  brass and percussion instruments, while the flutes played a bubbly motif underneath. Snippets of London Bridge weaved throughout the work.

The Calgary Wind Symphony closed with La Fiesta Mexicana by H. Owen Reed. Dr. Brown explained that due to the work's length of 18 minutes, it is rarely performed. "Maybe once every 10 years," he said.

One interesting feature for this work is the fact that various musicians went off-stage to perform, mimicking a mariachi band heard in the distance. The work is comprised of three movements: a rhythmic and energetic "Prelude and Aztec Dance", a reverent "Mass" and a toe-tapping "Carnival".

About the Calgary Wind Symphony

The Calgary Wind Symphony is a 60-member ensemble, directed by Dr. Jeremy Brown of the University of Calgary. Formerly known as the Calgary Concert Band, the ensemble has been active in Calgary’s musical community since 1947.

Music aficionados can check out the Calgary Wind Symphony on Sunday, June 2 at 2:30 p.m. The CWS will present “Apollo Sings! Music that Soars”. For more information and to buy concert tickets, please visit the CWS’s website.

For those who braved the terrible winter roads on March 3, 2013, the Calgary Wind Symphony’s “Music of Mysteries, Legends and Ritual” concert proved to be a diverse and highly entertaining programme of eerie and grand music.

 

Calgary Wind Symphony Presents Music of Mysteries, Legends & Ritual

Mystery, legends and rituals are on tap when the Calgary Wind Symphony (formerly the "Calgary Concert Band") performs on Sunday March 3 at 2:30 PM.

Concert Review of the Calgary Wind Symphony's Hilarious Holidays

The Calgary Wind Symphony performed a selection of upbeat and amusing band music at its Christmas concert on Sunday, December 2, 2012 at the University of Calgary's Rozsa Centre. Cellphone soloist Wendy Freeman and pianist Julie Jacques drew the crowd in with their energetic performances.

 

The CWS Set the Stage for an Afternoon of Hilarity

 

Various members of the Calgary Wind Symphony glittered. Literally. There was a wide assortment of blinking and non-blinking elf caps, Santa Claus hats and reindeer antlers, which set the tone for a lighthearted musical afternoon.

 

It only gets more garish as the afternoon goes on,” quipped CWS Music Director, Dr. Jeremy Brown after walking on stage with his fire-truck red cummerbund beneath his tux.

The Calgary Wind Symphony's "Hilarious Holidays"  Concert on December 2, 2012. Photo by R-M Arca.

Fanfare and Cell Phones Highlighted at the Calgary Wind Symphony Concert

The CWS its Christmas programme opened with Jim Colonna's “Fanfare on Adeste Fidelis”, a lively number that featured a witty fugal fanfare in the brass. This was followed up with Jan Van der Roost's “Flashing Winds”. This energetic number contained sweeping themes reminiscent of the classic TV show “Bonanza”.

 

One of the highlights from the first half was the “Concerto for Cell Phone” by James M. Stephenson. Yes, you read that correctly – cell phone. Soloist Wendy Freeman scoured the malls to record “the six most epic ring tones”. Each ring tone was “introduced” by the cellphone and then developed by the CWS. The fugal treatment of the infamous NOKIA® ring tone was beautifully done.

 

The first half ended with “Pequeña Suite para Banda” by Luis Serrano Alarcón. This suite featured some polytonality, instruments played in extreme registers and catchy rhythms. The flute solo in the “Rana” was simply exquisite, while the melodic themes in “Galop” weaved a twisting soundscape, punctuated with energetic, Batman-like “SPLATS”.

 

The CWS Presents the World Premiere of Le Tombeau de Liberace and More Season Favourites

 

The hilarity reached epic levels in the second half, beginning with the world premiere performance of Michael Daugherty's “Le Tombeau deLiberace”. This suite in four dances is scored for piano, flute, clarinet, French horn, violin and percussion. Julie Jacques of Calgary took on the role of Liberace at the piano.

 

It showcased everything you'd expect for a Liberace tribute – glittering rings, feather boas, candelabras and trademark Libarace piano riffs. The first dance, the “Rhinestone Kickstep”, featured a dialogue between the marimba and the piano, boogie woogie rhythms and crunchy harmonies.

 

How Do I Love Thee” is named after Elizabeth Barret Browning's sonnet of the same name. Liberace often recited this poem at performances. It featured a mournful melody on the French horn, glittering arpeggii on the piano and some lush Debussy-esque harmonies.

 

Sequin Music” is a classic example of dodecaphonic music. The 12-tone motive was presented and then developed through various permutations, such as transposition, inversion and retrograde. It became more embellished once the piano cadenza was reached.

 

The final dance in the suite is “Candelabra Rhumba”. The Spanish-flavoured theme weaved between the instruments against heavily syncopated rhythms played on the piano.

 

The stage lit up even more for the next piece, with a sudden increase in blinking Christmas hats and antlers. The CWS performed “Canadian Brass Christmas”, arranged by Luther Henderson and adapted for band by Howard Cable.

 

This upbeat number opened with the Big Ben clock theme before launching into a contrapuntal treatment of “Ding Dong Merrily on High”. The medley also included “Here We Come A Wassailing” as well as “Huron Carol”.

 

Another highlight from the second half was “A+: A Precise Prelude and an Excellent March” by Thomas C. Duffy. To set up this number, trombonist and band teacher, Jim Kramer shared this quote by baseball legend Ted Williams: "Baseball is the only field of endeavour where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.”

 

With “A+”, Duffy wanted to demonstrate the difference between a performance in which everyone is trying to play as proficiently and expressively as possible (A+) and a performance akin to Williams' 3/10 game stats. Suffice it to say that Duffy and the Calgary Wind Symphony proved that getting 3/10 notes right in music is unacceptable.

 

The final number on the programme was Leroy Anderson's “Sleigh Ride”. As an encore, the CWS performed Karl L. King's “Circus Days – Galop”, featuring Monica Leong on bicycle honker horns.

 

About the Calgary Wind Symphony

 

The Calgary Wind Symphony is a 60-member ensemble, directed by Dr. Jeremy Brown of the University of Calgary. Formerly known as the Calgary Concert Band, the ensemble has been active in Calgary's musical community since 1947. The band went on a European tour in 2011, performing to enthusiastic audiences in Italy and Austria.

 

In the summer of 2012, the CCC changed its name to the “Calgary Wind Symphony”, operating under the Calgary Concert Band Society.

 

Music aficionados can check out the Calgary Wind Symphony's upcoming concerts for the 2012/13 season. On Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 2:30 p.m., the CWS presents “Music of Mysteries, Legends and Ritual”. On Sunday, June 2 at 2:30 p.m., the Calgary Wind Symphony presents “Apollo Sings! Music that Soars”. Both concerts will take place at the Rozsa Centre on the U of C campus. For more information and to buy concert tickets, please visit the CWS's website.

 

The Calgary Wind Symphony's “Hilarious Holidays!” concert in Calgary on December 2, 2012 boasted a lively and amusing programme guaranteed to elicit giggles and chuckles from the audience. From the downbeat, the CWS had audience members tapping their toes, chuckling and cheering in appreciation for not only a proficient performance, but a highly entertaining one.