NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Stephen F. Austin State University music students will perform works from the 18th through the 21st centuries when the SFA Wind Ensemble and Friends present “The Evolution of Chamber Winds” in a virtual performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 1.
The concert features chamber music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Charles Gounod, Walter Hartley, Jean-Denis Michat and Andy Akiho, according to Dr. David Campo, director of bands at SFA.
Opening the program under the direction of graduate student conductor Abbigail Ramsey of Prosper, the students will perform the 1st movement of Mozart’s Serenade No. 10, “The Gran Partita.”
“As a genre, serenades were ‘dinner music’ to be performed at parties and other social events,” Campo said. “Also known as divertimenti, nocturnes, or cassations, these works had their origin in the aristocratic practice of hiring a band to ‘woo’ potential lovers and damsels. By 1780, these types of works were beginning to appear in serious concerts, but because of their very nature, many serenades from the Classical period have been lost forever, swallowed by time. Mozart’s serenades, however, have survived ... a testament to their construction and quality.
“It is important to also note that Mozart did not, in fact, nickname his Serenade,” Campo added. “The moniker ‘Gran Partita’ was added by an unknown hand after his death. It is not clear if this title is one that Mozart endorsed or was even aware of.”
Petite symphonie pour neuf instruments à vent, or the "Little Symphony for Winds," was composed in 1885 by French composer Gounod. Campo describes this complete miniature symphony as “elegant, delicate and sweet.” The first movement uses a slow introduction, like that of Joseph Haydn, and an allegretto in sonata form. The second movement features an added flute. The scherzo that follows is based on a hunting theme, with a lively finale in the fourth movement to end the symphony.
Graduate student conductor Jacob Bridges of Lake Charles, Louisiana, will lead the ensemble in Hartley’s Concerto for 23 Winds. Hartley composed this work for the Eastman Wind Ensemble in 1957, and it was premiered by that group during the Eastman School’s annual Festival of American Music in 1958.
Hartley described the four-movement work as “roughly corresponding to those of the classical symphony or sonata in form, but it is textually more related to the style of the Baroque concerto, being essentially a large chamber work in which different soloists and groups of soloists play in contrast with each other and with the group as a whole.”
A percussion group from the Wind Ensemble lends its voice to the unique chamber music offering with composer Akiho’s “to wALk Or ruN in wEst harlem,” a percussion piece that features a modified Pierrot ensemble – flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano – and prepared vibraphone. Although not much is said about the story of the piece, with the help of Michael McQuilken, Akiho published a short film to YouTube titled “To Walk Or Run.” The film uses the piece as a dramatic background track with actors portraying themes of sex trafficking. The piece assists this concept by using percussion instruments to mimic the sounds of a car door slamming and tires screeching as well as the sound of police sirens later in the work.
Dr. Nathan Nabb, professor of saxophone at SFA, and guitarist Brandon Coleman will be the featured guest performers on the final piece of the concert, Michat’s rollicking “Pasta Concerto” for saxophone ensemble, guitar and soprano saxophone soloist.
“The work is a sometimes tongue-in-cheek but always technically demanding tour-de-force that utilizes all of the vibrant colors of the entire saxophone family,” Campo said. Regarding the unusual name of the composition, Michat said, “In tribute to the Italian concertos, I called it ‘Pasta Concerto, ’since the Baroque concertos are fascinating because everyone can play them; they are pleasant for the musicians and for the general public.” The four movements of the concerto are Spaghetti, Farfalle, Cellentani and Tagliatelle.
To access the live virtual concert free of charge, visit music.sfasu.edu the night of the performance. For additional information, contact the School of Music at (936) 468-4602.