Students of CU Boulder’s College of Music performed at Macky Auditorium on Thursday, Sept. 16 in a diverse repertoire of music, moving from wildly triumphant to strangely eerie throughout.
The Symphonic Band, led by Associate Director of Bands Matthew Dockendorf, began the evening with “Festivo” by Edward Gregson. A grand opening accompanied instruments tossing the melody to each other and dying off in suspense before the timpani heralded the return to the bright and colorful festival.
“Against the Rain” by Roshanne Etezady was performed next, a gentle and coaxing piece that was based on the poem “Love is Not All“ by Edna St. Vincent Millay. The piece was filled with beautifully strange tunes, an intriguing combination of harmony and disharmony interspersed with the twinkling xylophone, before melting away to allow a forlorn flute to wander in the silence.
Guest conductor Dylan Koester conducted the following set of pieces, called “Paris Sketches” by Martin Ellerby, beginning with “Saint-Germain-des-Pres.” The arrangement is a drawn-out tableau filled with the dreaminess of a sleeping city before the sun rises with the crash of cymbals and the bell chimes to wake Parisians. In “Pigalle,” the timpani set off the tempo mimicking busy streets filled with scurrying people and honking cars. The chaos paused and the beauty of the Soho of Paris is admired from above, before diving back into the hustle and bustle of the streets.
“Pere Lachaise,” referring to Paris’ largest cemetery, was a movement in itself wistful and nostalgic. The tinkling xylophone provides a beautiful contrast to the tuba’s baseline, while the bells toll a farewell. A burst of sound heralds “Les Halles,” a triumphant and celebratory finale of the set centered around the old market area of Paris. The vibrato of wind instruments and the wandering tubas tumble around, reminiscing the dawn tableau before moving joyfully towards the grand ending.
The Symphonic Band closed out with John Zdechlik’s “Celebrations,” a triumphant work that oscillates between playfully cacophonous and solemnly grand. The listener is pulled along for blooms of warm color across the canvas of music, the oboe trailing a playful brush over the seriousness.
The Wind Symphony, conducted by Director of Bands Donald J. McKinney, continued with “Fandangos” by Roberto Sierra. Inspired by Antonio Soler’s keyboard “Fandangos,” Sierra’s music was filled with whimsical and strange tunes, the castanets setting a rhythm as the rest of the instruments take wild and exotic twists. An uneasy peace is reached before the music shrieks, sending everything back into chaos.
Colin Kemeny’s “Introduction and Dance Macabre” began with a strange and eerie disharmony, moving to dangerous suspense accentuated by the percussion. A sense of urgency and rising dread built up as the instruments chase after one another, delving into absolute chaos before the piece suddenly ends, leaving the hall in shocked silence.
Concluding the evening, “That Secret from the River” by Joel Puckett, inspired by a quote from Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha.” The piece began with a cacophony of clashing notes which melt away to leave the clarinets holding a single note. Other instruments slowly joined in, glissandi blurring the lines between beauty and strangeness. The glockenspiel and piano created a sense of timelessness that echoes over the hall, falling into a forest of tranquil instruments. Grandeur is mixed with unease, piercing notes clashing against the rising tide of music, before moving to a grand harmony that ends the piece and concert.
The CU Symphony Orchestra will perform next Tuesday at Macky Auditorium. They will offer a repertoire composed of Hector Berlioz’s exciting “Roman Carnival Overture” and his audacious “Symphonie Fantastique,” as well as Richard Strauss’ calming “Four Last Songs.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Min Ling Chuah at email@example.com.