Arts & Culture

Wind Symphony set to play for Family Weekend

First concert of year to welcome parents, students with performance of Samuel Hazo’s pieces

Staff Writer
Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Wind Symphony, conducted by Director of Bands and Senior Lecturer in Music Matthew McGarrell, will play its first concert of the year alongside the Percussion Ensemble during Family Weekend.

The Wind Symphony is a concert band that allocates only one player per part, unlike other types of concert bands. “The idea is not to be elitist, but it is to give people the chance to play their instruments without the complications of three or four people playing the same part that they are,” McGarrell said.

In order to join the group, Wind Symphony musicians go through an audition process in the first week of fall semester.

“Wind Symphony is a great way to play with musicians who are dedicated to making good music,” said Valerie Zhu ’19, a saxophone player in the Wind Symphony. “There is a whole audition process, so (the musicians) are all really willing to put in the effort.”

The Family Weekend concert will feature three Samuel Hazo compositions, which are more challenging musically than the pieces the group typically tackles for its first concert of the year.

“With this program our percussionists are being featured in a way that they usually are not,” McGarrell said. “I noticed in studying the scores that all three (pieces) feature a particular kind of drum and feature it in a way that gives prominence in the music.”

Besides percussion, the band also features a wide range of wind instruments such as flutes, bassoons, horns, trumpets, trombones and tubas.

The three pieces come from a diverse array of musical traditions. “The first one is from First Nation people in Canada. The second one is an Irish ballad that has a bodhran (an Irish drum) and the third piece is called ‘Arabesque.’ It uses the doumbek, which is an instrument from the Middle East.”

In Hazo’s pieces, music is naturally derived from the percussion of these various traditions.

Percussionists will also have the opportunity to shine in the Percussion Ensemble’s performance that serves as the concert’s annual opening act. Most participants in this year’s Percussion Ensemble performance also play in the Wind Symphony.

“This ensemble allows percussionists to make music that is totally their own,” wrote Kevin Plouffe, teaching associate in music, in an email to The Herald. It “enables the performer to create more freely but also with a greater sense of ensemble because of its intimate size and texture. Percussion at this level is more about the proper engineering of sound than just playing the correct rhythm.”


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