The Wind Ensemble and the Thursday Night Jazz Ensemble performed in the Wadsworth Auditorium at 8 p.m. on Friday Oct. 26.
The Wind Ensemble’s performance was filled with light-hearted fare and got off to a particularly vivacious start with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Sea Songs.” The ensemble’s dynamic movement created swells in the music reminiscent of the sea and at times the rhythm felt as though it was marching along like sailors.
John Barnes Chance’s wavering but beautiful “Variations on a Korean Folk Song” followed. With gorgeous trombone entrances, playful woodblocks, mellifluous transitions and haunting high notes, courtesy of the flutes, the piece was well-rounded and diverse. It was thrilling in the fast and loud sections and melancholy in the slow and soft.
Next was Malcolm Arnold’s whimsical, yet repetitive, set titled “English Dances Set 1,” which featured a light, shimmering cymbal and heart-racing drumbeats. After this came a modern-era piece, “Variations on ‘America’” by Charles Ives.
The group saved the best piece for last with a stunning rendition of Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Folk Dances.” The piece was lively and fun, as James Walker, Distinguished Service Professor of Music and conductor of the Wind Ensemble, practically jumped off of the podium with the music’s energy. Excellent dynamics and a foot-tapping rhythm made the piece a sensation.
The Thursday Night Jazz Ensemble took the stage after intermission. While the group’s ineffective use of stage space was distracting, the members’ colorful blue shirts in a variety of hues were fitting to the performance.
The ensemble began with Dave Hanson’s “Blue Brews.” The piano was perfect, subtle and soft, pairing with the ensemble’s suave feel and creating a robust sound. Next came Victor Young’s “Stella by Starlight” followed by Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” both notable for their smooth sound. Unfortunately, in “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” the ensemble frequently overwhelmed the vocalist, and the variations on the classic melody became tedious.
The Thursday Night Jazz Ensemble wrapped up with its best piece, “Michael” by Gene Thorne, a dedication to Michael Jackson. With an infectious beat and incredible saxophone battle, the Thursday Night Jazz Ensemble concluded with a triumphant crescendo.
Freshmen soloists Nick Iannarelli on the alto sax during “Michael” and Zachary Zwald on trombone during “Blue Brews” and “Stella by Starlight” were standout performers of the evening.