Pease Auditorium swelled with music on a peaceful Sunday on Oct. 13 as the Eastern Michigan University Wind Symphony, conducted by Mary K. Schneider, kicked off its first concert of the semester with a piece from 1943 called “Commando March,” written by Pennsylvanian-born child prodigy Samuel Barber.
“Commando March” is a military quick-step march, much like the marches of John Philip Sousa, according to the program notes.
Schneider has been at EMU for six years.
“The wind symphony is a concert band, so most people, when they think about a concert band, they think of a marching band or they think of bands that play marches,” Schneider said. “But the wind band has developed much more and now there’s music written by really well-known composers. Composers are taking the medium more seriously in terms of an expressive medium. There’s a lot of experimentation.”
“Chant Funeraire” was composed in 1921 by Gabriel Faure and arranged by Mayron Ross in 2004. The piece was somber at the beginning but then the horns kicked in. The song was commissioned by the French government to commiserate the 100th anniversary of the death of Napoleon.
This was followed up by a brand new piece, “Whispers and Evocations,” which was written by contemporary composer Peter Terry.
Terry, who hails from Flint and is a University of Michigan alumnus, has been on the composition and theory faculty at the Interlochen Arts Camps since 1991, according to his website.
He explained his song in a speech before it was played.
“Whispering is probably the most human of utterances if you think about it,” Terry said. “Evocation is an old form of ritual involving evoking the gods or bringing spirits. And it changed over the time to be calling something from nothing. So we talk about something being ‘evocative’ meaning something triggers a memory or an emotion or a small impulse that calls the whole thing into being.”
This song was the world premiere of clarinetist and assistant professor Sandra Jackson. She has been teaching for more than 20 years.
A faculty member, she applied for and received the Provost New Faculty Research Award from EMU to compose this song. That is how she got Peter Terry to write it. This being Jackson’s premiere, her first official performance wasn’t flawed but confident.
“The ensemble is so well prepared,” Jackson said. “I think Dr. Schneider prepared them so well that when you come to the performance you just rehearse it and you are ready to go.”
After that was another fairly modern piece from 2003, “In Wartime” by David Del Tredici. the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer who wrote the two movement pieces in reaction to the Iraq War.
The first movement, “Hymn,” is written by incorporating parts of the song “Abide with Me,” according to Schnieder. The second movement, “Battle March,” signifies the battle of east versus west.
“It was very nice,” Mark Yapp, a visitor to EMU said. “I enjoyed it.”
Martha Evans, who was visiting EMU with her husband, gave her thoughts on the show.
“This last piece was excellent,” she said. “‘In Wartime’ we had difficulty with. ‘The Battle March’ has a lot of discourse [so] it was not pleasing to the ear.”
“There is nothing like hearing music live, being part of the community of performers, audience and composers who bring music to life,” Schneider said. “Music is an art form. We are communicating and expressing ourselves through music, and we hope that the audience is connecting to some of those pieces in the same way. That they feel a connection, are moved by the beauty or emotion in the music, whether it is a ‘classical’ work or a brand new piece.”
If you’re interested in other musical events coming up, the Band Day will be on Oct. 19 at 1:00 p.m. in at Rynearson Stadium Stadium and the Symphonic Band and University Choir concert Sunday Oct. 20 at 4:00 p.m. at Pease Auditorium.
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