Orchestra sends soothing sound
By Elissa Thompson
Trumpets, flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trombones and so much more played together in perfect harmony Feb. 28 in Walton Chapel.
The university’s Wind Ensemble hosted a concert in which they performed five pieces, including a 17-minute-long piece by David Maslanka. The group consists of 37 musicians, including the conductor, Nils Landsberg.
The first song they played was called “Shepherd’s Hey” by Percy Grainger.
“It was written in 1918, and it is believed to be the first work for a concert band to include piano in its orchestration,” Landsberg said.
It was lively, and the orchestra seemed to enjoy playing it.
“The Seal Lullaby” by Eric Whitacre, was the second song. It was originally supposed to be part of the soundtrack for an animated movie based on Rudyard Kipling’s The White Seal. Unfortunately, this beautiful, moving piece never made it because DreamWorks decided to make Kung Fu Panda.
The next song was a two-movement piece by Shelley Hanson called “Dance with Winds.” Before it started, more than half of the musicians got up and left.
Landsberg said, “That was a chamber work that was only for 12 winds and two percussionists. We like to incorporate chamber works as often as we can because it really exposes the individual instrumentalist and pushes them to strive harder for great music making.”
After a quick intermission, the orchestra came back and performed a piece by William Schuman called “Chester, Overture for Band.”
The last song was the most inspiring. It was a 17-minute piece called “Give Us This Day” by David Maslanka. While the title comes from The Lord’s Prayer, Maslanka got the inspiration for this piece from Buddhist philosophy.
“The idea is that in order for the world to survive, everyone must find their inner self and find deep mindfulness within themselves,” Landsberg said.
The first movement had almost a mystical, dark sound to it.
“You notice in the first movement, it’s this very mysterious (song) with lots of interesting textures being created with plucking piano strings and hand bells being added to the sound texture. But then there are moments of glory and then it resolves back down to this tiny speck and then all of the sudden, boom, the second movement, which is very intense,” Landsberg said.
Freshman music education major Akil Everett plays the tenor saxophone in the ensemble and has been playing for 15 years. He said playing with the group is inspiring and requires hard work, but there are many dedicated individuals who are involved.
“I really want to compose,” he said.
Everett plans to focus on film scoring after guaduation.
Freshman Christian ministry major Kristin Mercer said she has several friends in the band. “I have always been in band, so I love coming to the concerts,” she said.
There will be multiple opportunities to attend other concerts. The Jazz Ensemble will perform in chapel March 21 and has another show in Walton Chapel March 22 at 7:30 p.m.
In addition, the group will embark on a 10-day tour in China over spring break.
They will perform at three universities during their visit.
Landsberg said, “It’s a pretty big undertaking for us. This is the first time an instrumental ensemble from this university has traveled overseas.”