Wind Symphony in Concert

Wind Symphony Concert PosterThe OU Wind Symphony presents music of Copland, Lauridsen, Grainger, and a 2015 three-movement composition by Michigan composer, Paul Dooley on its Sutton Series Concert in Sharp Hall, Monday, February 22, at 8:00 p.m.

There is a lot of interesting music happening at this concert, and here’s how you can learn more about it as we explore the School of Music announcement: 

Dooley’s Masks and Machines is inspired by the early twentieth century works of German Bauhaus artist, Oskar Schlemmer, and the music of Igor Stravinsky. The composer states “I admire the simplicity of shapes and color in Schlemmer’s works such as the “Bauhaus Stairway” and “Triadic Ballet” as well as the renaissance and baroque musical influences in brass music, Baroque fortspinnung in virtuosic mallet percussion, lush oboe, clarinet and bassoon color, and machine-like flute rips.” (pauldooley.net)

SoM notes this came from composer Paul Dooley’s Web site, and you can listen to the work there, as well as download a PDF of the full score! I love contemporary composers who realize that providing these things make us more likely to get into the music, not less.

The concert opens with Percy Grainger’s first (1905) work for full band, Lads of Wamphray March, which captures the bold characters of the 14th – 16th century Scottish border wars described in a poem of the same name by Sir Walter Scott. “Lads” was revised in 1937, the same year Grainger completed “Lincolnshire Posy.”

If you collect any of the North Texas Wind Symphony CDs, you may have this on their Composer’s Collection: Percy Aldridge Grainger. Here’s their version:

The concert ends with two wonderfully contrasting pieces in the tender, devotional “O Magnum Mysterium” by Morten Lauridsen (transcribed by H. Robert Reynolds) and the 1964 CBDNA Commission of Emblems by Aaron Copland. Copland’s only original composition for wind band captures the stately, yet thorny clashes of harmony before gradually revealing Amazing Grace, which has enjoyed crossover connections in almost every fabric of American christian and secular culture.

I think one of the best ways to understand O Magnum Mysterium is to hear the original choral version while looking at the sheet music, something that YouTube makes amazingly easy:

Robert Reynolds’ transcription keeps the emotion and power of the original, but makes it much easier to hear the individual lines. In a vocal performance, you often cannot tell when a line is being passed from tenors to altos, or basses to tenors, but the wind version uses separate instrumentation that makes it a revelation even to those who know the original well. Here’s the Eastman Wind Ensemble performing it in Tokyo in June 2004:

(If 1964 is “too old” for you kids with your hip-hop and MySpace, consider this short excerpt where Eric Whitacre explains his first encounter with O Magnum Mysterium and how it influenced his own Lux Aurumque🙂

As for Emblems, Copland’s era did not make scores freely available, but in addition to the United States Marine Band (“The President’s Own”) performing the piece from their 2004 album of the same name:

…you can actually look at Aaron Copland’s original manuscript for the piece, in his own handwriting, courtesy of the Library of Congress. How’s that for living in a connected world?

Sutton Series concerts are $9 for adults, or $5 for students, faculty, staff, or senior citizens. Tickets are available at the Fine Arts Box Office in Catlett Music Center, or you can call them at (405) 325-4101. And it looks like there’s interesting stuff planned for the next concert as well.