The Woodwind Ensembles Spring 2011 concert featured a wide and rich variety of classical and timeless music. The concert was appropriately directed by Rebecca Mindock and Andra Bohnet. The ensemble included compositions from different artists such as Paul Nagle, Johann Sebastian Bach, Miguel Del Aguila, Franz Doppler, Claude-Paul Taffanel, and Karen Street. The ensemble chose not to perform whole compositions of some of the music. The ensemble consisted of the USA saxophone ensemble with Brianna Smith, Danielle Heil and Phillip Jones playing the flute, bassoon and harpsichord respectively. Rachel Moody and Kristen Walker played the flute, while Phillip Jones played the piano in the woodwind quintet. Other instrumentalists included Scott Ehlers who played the oboe, Emily Allen who played the clarinet and Kathryn Patterson who had the horn.
The first piece to be performed was Three Shades of Blue by Paul Nagle. The saxophone ensemble performed the first shade of the quartet in swing style. It was beautifully performed and the sound reverberated beautifully in the whole hall. This piece was followed by the sonata in E-flat major BMW 1031, which is credited to Johann Sebastian Bach. The piece filled the room with its tempo moving from moderately quick to slow and concluding very fast. This piece left the audience asking for more. The piece was presented using the flute, the harpsichord and the bassoon. I have heard the sonata before but the only instrument used was the piano. I must stay that it was indeed a pleasant treat to hear the music as it was originally intended.
“In Heaven” was the third composition to be performed followed by “Under the Earth”. As the name suggests, the two pieces were in contrast with each other, both in style and in the audience reception. The ensemble first played the piece “In Heaven”, which created a new and exciting sound, unique from what I had heard before. I could feel my head moving along with the sounds as I listened to the instruments. Next, the group performed the piece “Under the Earth” and the instrument of choice was the oboe. I would have preferred the whole concert to be filled with happy and fun songs but this would not have added to the variety. This piece was such a contrast from the others that had been performed before. The music was somber and it filled me with sadness. I was left with feelings of melancholy when this piece was being presented and I must say it was a relief when it ended.
The next piece to be presented was by Franz Doppler, which was composed in the nineteenth century. Moody and Walker did a good job with the flutes and so did Phillip Jones on the piano. I would have wished that St Mathew’s passion by Sebastian Bach followed the second piece by Aguila. While both compositions were sobering, Sebastian’s piece had different effect. Perhaps it is the knowledge of the words, but I did not have sad feelings when the piece was complete. This particular piece was rather provoking, perhaps due to its spiritual connotations. I think that the piece would have been more beautiful if it had been performed as had been intended in its original version where one would have been able to follow the individual lines.
Taffanel’s piece picked up the tempo and the room was once again filled with life. Of course, the piece would have sounded better with a full orchestra. The available instrumentalists delivered and they did not disappoint. Despite the shortage of musicians and instrumentalists, the piece was performed in a lively way. The concert ended with “All in Good Time” from Karen Street, which was performed, in a swing style. The two last pieces were clearly the best choices to end the concert since they were lively and fun. The concert was largely a successful event and one cannot deny the contentment felt at the end. The diversity of the musical pieces presented contributed to the richness of the concert and I can say that it was time well spent.