So much of music is composed of doing more with less, of making a few notes into a symphony, or a small group into an orchestra.
On Nov. 4, students and faculty converged at the Central Presbyterian Church on Center Street to watch this happen, as the Geneseo Wind Quintet performed an afternoon concert.
The program was broken up into four pieces, three of which featured the full quintet and one of which was a solo selection for adjunct lecturer of music Anna Steltenpohl on oboe.
The first composition was a “Suite of Old Lettish Dances,” which, as the name implies, was based on songs originating in Latvia. As arranged by Andrejs Jansons, the five dances were alternately laconic and bouncy, with one in particular featuring a steady tambourine part in place of an oboe.
Jansons, who himself is Latvian, has spent a significant amount of his long career arranging and conducting Lettish pieces, both traditional and more modern, and his experience showed through in the compositional complexity of this piece, an early highlight.
“Songs in G” by Jean-Philippe Rameau - the oldest piece in the program - followed, carrying a distinct baroque-style feel that set it apart from the other more modern selections.
Though not composed as part of an opera, each movement carried a descriptive name - like “The Brutes” and “The Egyptian Girl.” This piece in particular highlighted adjunct lecturer of music Mary Hunt on French horn with several prominent and bouncy lines throughout.
Steltenpohl's oboe solo followed, and though occasionally out of breath, she performed Gordon Jacob's “Seven Bagatelles” with gusto and skill.
A bagatelle is defined as “a trifle,” but that hardly described the complex nature of each of the seven short movements of the piece, which had Steltenpohl flying up and down scales to the palpable delight of her audience.
The afternoon's final piece came with announced program notes: Eric Ewazen, who teaches at The Juilliard School, composed “Roaring Fork (Quintet for Wind Instruments)” to sound like the Rocky Mountain stream of the same name.
Bright, melodic lines in the first movement evoked images of rapids, while the sweeping middle and third movements carried themes of solitude and exhilaration, respectively.
Originally written for the Borealis Wind Quartet, Steltenpohl and Hunt, as well as flutist Glennda Dove Pellito, clarinetist Ernest Lascell and bassoonist Martha Sholl - all adjunct lecturers of music - used it to wonderfully close out the concert, figuratively moving from the depths of a canyon to above the top of a mountain.