Thursday, Sept. 27 marked the opening of the concert season for the SHSU Wind Ensemble. The first concert featured Stephen Lange, a trombonist from the Dallas Symphony who has studied at Julliard. The set of the night consisted of four pieces, including one by SHSU’s own Kyle Kindred.
The wind ensemble had a stage presentation comparable to a professional ensemble. The performance quality and control over each musical aspect is a marvelous and joyous aural experience.
Variations on a Tango, their first piece, was written by Kindred earlier this year after a commission from Matthew McInturf, the conductor of the wind ensemble. The opening melody is vaguely reminiscent of Bizet’s Carmen, especially the famous habenera movement. The piece opens with a haunting flute solo met by percussion. At a point, the ensemble sings with support from the low brass and occasionally the clarinet section. Trombones hold a melody that rings out into a full ensemble swell. The pickup to the end of the piece allows the ensemble to clap and stomp in the typical tango style. This piece is a well-constructed mix of slow melodies and fast-paced dance style.
Fantasia on “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” by Mark Camphouse featured graduate conducting assistant Rachel Denson. The piece starts with an alto saxophone solo. Being based on a folk song, Fantasia features the characteristics of folk music: simple, continuous rhythm with a recognizable melody. With a majestic ending, this piece ended on a beautiful, sombre note. It was a nice change of pace between Variations and the next piece.
Now, the next piece is one this writer was quite eager to hear. As a trombonist myself, Fantasy for Trombone, Op. 42, by Paul Creston, speaks to me on a personal level. The featured soloist, Stephen Lange, held a complete and utter control of his instrument and all aspects of the range. Phenomenal technique and command of the highest range of the instrument is required, and Lange never fails to provide this. A smaller ensemble is required as support, and this is provided with the professionalism required. Just enough support is given to be heard and not overpower the softer sound of the soloist.
The final piece, Valdres by Johannes Hannsen, is a familiar march. It starts as a simple and easy-paced piece that is almost relaxing when compared to the pieces that preceded it. At the trio section, the large brass takes over. As a march, it is formulaic and not much can be said about it. As a part of this set, it was a nice closing piece.
Overall, the wind ensemble’s first concert of the year was a worthy experience for both music majors and the musically inclined and the casual listener. Join the wind ensemble and symphonic band Nov. 15 for their next concert.