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ASU Wind Ensemble begins 2009-10 season with Centennial concert Sept. 29

Sept. 29, 2009 -- As Arkansas State University celebrates its centennial anniversary throughout this year, the ASU Wind Ensemble will open its 2009-2010 season with an anniversary tribute which provides the opportunity for audience members to "Embrace Our Past: Imagine Our Future." Dr. Timothy Oliver, director of bands and coordinator of wind and percussion studies within the Department of Music, will lead the musicians of the ASU Wind Ensemble in  “Centennials, Diamonds, Gold, and Papers.”  Each of the works selected for this program are celebrating centennial (100th), diamond (75th), gold (50th), or paper (1st) anniversaries. This centennial concert event will be held on Tuesday, September 29, in Riceland Hall, Fowler Center, 201 Olympic Drive, Jonesboro. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m., and admission is free.

The ASU Wind Ensemble is a group of woodwind, brasswind and percussion musicians who are among the finest instrumentalists at ASU. Students in this ensemble hail from not only Arkansas, but also Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, and New York. The wind ensemble is different from other more traditional groups such as concert or marching bands, because in a wind ensemble usually only one, or sometimes two, musicians play each individual part written by the composer. This defining characteristic makes the wind ensemble very flexible and ideal for exploring a wide variety of instrumental combinations and musical styles.

This centennial concert will begin with “First Suite in E-flat, Op. 28, No. 1” composed in 1909 by Gustav Holst. This work has been hailed by some as the most historically significant composition ever written for wind bands, because this piece represents one of the first attempts to create artistic music designed specifically for the modern concert band. This suite is divided into three movements, each of which are related by the initial theme heard at the beginning of the work.  It is ironic that at the same time ASU was founded, Holst was creating this landmark work in England, and now we celebrate their centennials together.

In contrast, the next work on the program is celebrating a first anniversary. That work,  Kathryn Salfelder’s, “Cathedrals,” a modern homage to the Italian Renaissance composer Giovanni Gabrieli.  Salfelder is rapidly gained notoriety as an outstanding composer for a variety of musical genres.  This work won the prestigious 2008 ASCAP/CBDNA Frederick Fennell Prize, which recognizes talented young composers. “Cathedrals” utilizes two separate brass septets arranged in a traditional antiphonal fashion with the woodwinds and percussion acting as the binding buffer between them. Minimalism and Renaissance-style counterpoint make this a great addition to the wind band repertoire.

Vincent Persichetti composed the third work on the program, “Serenade for Band.” This is a classic work written by one of the great twentieth-century American composers. This work celebrates its golden anniversary this year. Each of the five short movements reflects the moods of a summer evening, possibly at the bandshell in the park. Following this, we go to the modern dance hall for a piece celebrating its 75th anniversary. Wallingford Riegger composed “New Dance” as part of a large dance piece commissioned by Doris Humphrey for the renowned Humphrey-Weidman Dance Company. “New Dance” is perhaps Riegger's most widely known piece, and the composer arranged it, by request, for a variety of combinations, including this version for concert band. The rhythmic content of Riegger's music presumably made it highly satisfactory to dancers.  The asymmetrical combination of rumba and conga rhythms is combined with a basso ostinato which provides a powerful, forward drive throughout the work.

The centennial concert continues with another opportunity for the audience to “Imagine Our Future.” Carter Pann composed “Hold this Boy and Listen” in 2008 for his third nephew. Pann writes that this is a “lyrical work where the melodies and harmonies return, creating a structure not unlike standard song structure.The sentiment is at times innocent or wistful and at other times haunted and serene.” This work almost sounds like a jazz ballad for wind ensemble, and it is one that is not to be missed. The concert will conclude with an obscure, but vibrant, John Philip Sousa march “The Federal,” another composition also celebrating a centennial anniversary this academic year. The Sousa Band was preparing to embark upon a world tour in 1910, and before leaving, Sousa composed this march. This march was so well received in Australia that when it was published, Sousa honored both Australia and New Zealand by providing the dedication “To the Australasians.” This march is also unusual because it was written in the keys of D-flat and G-flat major, and demands both virtuoso technical ability and subtle musical nuance, making for an exciting conclusion for this centennial concert.

For a complete list of ASU Centennial information and activities please log on to the following website: The ASU Wind Ensemble will continue its 2009-2010 Concert Season on November 12, when it presents a concert featuring composer-in-residence Frank Ticheli.  

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