Arts & Culture

Brown, Oxford University Wind Symphonies to perform together

Concert will feature, English, American composers

Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

This Friday, the Brown Wind Symphony and Oxford University Wind Orchestra will team up for a joint concert in Sayles Hall. The Brown Percussion Ensemble will open the concert with a performance conducted by Kevin Plouffe, teacher of percussion in the applied music program. A portion of the concert will feature a section exclusively conducted by Matthew McGarrell, director of bands and senior lecturer in music, and another will showcase the Oxford University Wind Orchestra, conducted by Chloe Rooke, the director of the Oxford Wind Orchestra. The two ensembles will then come together for two combined pieces at the end, “Serenade” by Derek Bourgeois and “Minho e Galiza,” a Portuguese March by Miguel de Oliveira.

Oxford’s visit to the University is a leg of the wind orchestra’s U.S. tour, where they have scheduled performances and workshops with a number of universities, including Princeton and Cornell. According to Rooke, this is the first time the OUWO is doing a full East Coast tour since its founding in 1974 and the first time the ensemble will play with the Brown Wind Symphony.

The concert has a “‘crossing the pond’ sort of theme,” Rooke said, with the Oxford ensemble performing pieces by British composers and Brown’s symphony performing only American pieces. McGarrell chose not to select British composers, in response to Rooke’s selection of works. “I thought … if they’re going to do all English, we’re not going to do Holst, we’re not going to do Ralph Vaughan Williams. … It ended up being a nice contrast, I think the audience will enjoy the different approaches,” said McGarrell.

The University’s portion of the concert focuses on three pieces by California-based composer Frank Ticheli and also includes a small ensemble piece and one percussion ensemble.

“What’s interesting about Ticheli is that even his pieces intended for middle school or high school bands are really great music (and) really fun to play,” McGarrell said. Alexander Perl ’18 will perform a clarinet solo in Ticheli’s virtuosic “Blue Shades,” according to McGarrell.

The OUWO is performing “Atlantic Alliance,” a new work that was written this term specifically for their wind orchestra, by Colin Touchin, founder of the ensemble. This piece is followed by another British work, “East Coast Pictures” by Nigel Heff. “Nigel Heff and Colin Touchin are both key wind orchestra figures in the U.K.,” Rooke said.

While many band conductors choose pop music to perform, this program has “real concert music,” McGarrell said.

There’s excitement among both wind symphonies for the opportunity to collaborate. “I think it’s going to end up being a great concert. I think we’re all going to have a lot of fun,” said Amanda Siegel ’19, who plays the flute and piccolo in the wind symphony. The two ensembles performing together will count about 90 performers, “so that’s going be a lot of sound, a lot of music,” she added.

“All of us are really excited to be able to meet other like-minded students. … Music is such a powerful tool to form bonds with people, because it’s such a communicative vessel,” Rooke said.

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