Thursday, July 1, 2010

Precious Metal

Okay, typically when a concert review is done it's not by one of the members of the performing group. So what. Last night, June 30th, I performed with the Timpview Wind Ensemble at the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo, Utah. I had a blast. I think that had to be the most fun I've had performing in a wind symphony. I've had other great experiences with wind symphonies, like touring Europe and Australia, but this was great because the music was fun and the musicians were fantastic to work with. Plus, it was only a little over two weeks from beginning of rehearsals to ending concert.

First off, the purpose of the concert was to perform the Utah premier of D.J. Sparr's Precious Metal: A Concerto for Flute and Winds. It featured local flutist Marianne Cutchins who played absolutely beautifully. I wish my flute-playing daughter could have been there, but she was at girl's camp. The piece itself was in three movements and represented the materials that flutes are made out of: silver, platinum, and gold. This was not your typical toe-tappin' type of piece. It's purpose was to evoke the idea of the different metals. Parts of it were aleatoric (for you non-musicians, it means either random or determined by the performer).

I enjoyed the piece at an emotional level. The effects were interesting and intriguing. My only complaint is that we didn't have a lot to do in the saxophone section (other than count rests). It would have been fun to pipe in with some multiphonics during the aleatoric parts of the second movement. It was one of those pieces, though, that a recording could never do justice. It has to be seen and experienced live in order to get the full impact of the effects.

As far as the other music, we played: Sound the Bells by John Williams, Suite Francaise by Darius Milhaud, Folk Dances by Dmitri Shostakovich, and Windriders by UVU professor Marden Pond. Dr. Pond's piece was in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express. It was a great piece with nice effects and had some toe-tappin' parts. A small ensemble also played a relatively unknown version of a piece for winds and percussion by Felix Mendelssohn called Overture for Winds, Op. 24.

Something I had not experienced before was being able to play in small group on a piece by William Walton called Facade. It was written for alto sax (played by yours truly), clarinet, flute, trumpet, cello, percussion, and narrator (done by Diane Dabczynski). We did four little character pieces that accompanied Diane reading the poetry of Dame Edith Sitwell. These were fun, quirky, and I got to let loose with my "schmaltz" gene. I love playing in that old 1920's style.

Kudos to Dr. David Fullmer for putting this fantastic concert together in such a short time. He pulled in some of us who teach at UVU and others from BYU, as well as several great local musicians. It's a blast to perform with professionals of their caliber.

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