Wednesday Lunch with the Wind Symphony!

Well, yes, all the concerts for this academic year are over. But wouldn’t you like one more chance to hear your fine OU Wind Symphony perform? Perhaps at a convenient time, like at noon on Wednesday, so you don’t have to cancel evening plans? With both eclectic and familiar tunes, and maybe some chamber music because, well, why not chamber music?

As you may have guessed, you’re in luck!

The Wind Symphony appears once again at 12:00 PM on April 30 in Catlett Music Center’s Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall, in a Sutton series concert to help fulfill the Doctor of Musical Arts requirements for Russell T. Pettit and Debra L. Traficante, conducting students of Dr. Wakefield.

Russell will be conducting Peter Mennin’s Canzona, Eric Leidzen’s transcription of Wagner’s Trauersinfonie, and Norman Dello Joio‘s 1963 classic Variants on a Mediæval Tune.

My personal favorite of the three is Dello Joio’s Variants on a Mediæval Tune, which I had not heard performed in about ten years until the Symphony Band picked it up last year, and Russell brought it to the Wind Symphony this year as a challenge for his recital. Based on the medieval tune In Dulci Jubilo, better known tody as the hymn/Christmas carol Good Christian Men, Rejoice, the piece is a statement of the tune and a set of wildly divergent variations scored for maximum use of the full tonal range of the modern wind ensemble. At times it’s lush and indulging its Christian overtones, and at other times private and almost exposed (if memory serves, the score calls for three “cornet” parts and two “trumpet” parts, so with five different high-brass lines, there’s little room for error). Dello Joio reused some of the ideas a year later in his score for NBC’s The Louvre, a color TV tour of that museum’s treasures, the likes of which had never before been broadcast in the United States. Some of that, in turn, made it into his later classic band work Scenes From The Louvre, but the ideas started right here. It’s both a personal and communal expression of the spirituality of a jubilant and reflective life. It’s one of my all-time favorites.

Debra is conducting movements I, II, and IV of Vincent Persichetti’s archetypal 1921 work Symphony No. 6 for Band, Op. 69, and ten movements of William Walton’s…unique Façade, an Entertainment, also from 1921, with poems by Edith Sitwell, recited by Zachary Kropp.

It’s hard to describe Façade without using the program notes, and that would be cheating, but it’s definitely an interesting mid-week musical experience! (Hint: look at the page for Façade on the William Walton site and note that the title of the first setting that hasn’t survived in its entirety is “Ass Face.” They’re not performing that one.) With classic English chamber music overtones for often-nonsensical poems commissioned by—let’s face it—rich people who didn’t have anything better to do until World War II reset Britain’s priorities, Façade is both an energetic romp and quiet personal meditation, with expert recitation by young Mr. Kropp. It’s definitely not your standard “band” fare, and it’ll stay with you for a while (in a good way).

Admission is free, and both Debra and Russell (who were both also Pride of Oklahoma graduate assistants in 2007) would love to conduct for you, so take some extra time on Wednesday and get some classic band love before the semester ends!