Instrumental groups give harmonious performances

Conducted by adjunct lecturer in music Ernest Lascell, Geneseo’s Wind Ensemble, Clarinet Choir and Saxophone Quartet held a touching performance in Wadsworth Auditorium on Sunday Feb. 21. The Wind Ensemble started with distinguished service professor of music James Walker’s “March L’Homme Armé.” When translated from French, the title means “The Armed Man.” The piece was actually written for the Geneseo Wind Ensemble and features a cantus firmus—fixed song—which is a medieval composer’s device to provide unity to a musical composition. This was a light and energized song, reminiscent of a victory march.

The ensemble’s second song was Alfred Reed’s “A Jubilant Overture.” Reed was an American neo-classical composer and he created this composition in 1970. This song is set in a three-part overture form, which means it starts fast, slows down and then returns to its initial speed. With its succinct notes, the performance of this composition was very impressive.

Brass specialist, teacher and composer of nearly 300 pieces for bands and orchestras Clair Johnson’s “Three Trombonists” followed. The trombone trio featured freshmen Robert Marino, Timothy Snyder and Patrick Buckley as soloists. This song bounced between the soloists and the band accompanying them, keeping the audience engaged.

The Saxophone Quartet performed one song following the Wind Ensemble: Eric Ewazen’s “Rhapsody for Saxophone Quartet.” Ewazen received a bachelor of music degree at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and a master of music and doctor of musical arts degrees from the Juilliard School. Furthermore, he has won many awards for his compositions. His song had a more attentive tone than the previous songs and instilled ideas of overcoming adversity and triumph.

The Clarinet Choir then performed Robert Roden’s “Difference of Opinion.” This song was more relaxed than the previous works—which resembled marches—yet also maintained the sense of joy and contentment. At times, the song instilled visions of walking along Parisian streets with its uplifting tone.

The Clarinet Choir’s second song was Gustav Holst’s “St. Paul’s Suite” arranged by Matt Johnston. Holst was an English composer, arranger and teacher best known for his orchestral suite “The Planets.” The students performed the first movement of “St. Paul’s Suite,” appropriately named “Jig.” This fast-paced song and its high notes resembled and captured the happiness accompanying an Irish jig.

The Wind Ensemble reconvened to play three more songs following the Clarinet Choir. The first was Gary Gilroy’s “Four Dance Episodes.” The first of the four “episodes” varied the remaining dances in this piece, as it included a tune of multi-metered rhythmic changes—which also highlighted all sections of the group. The second was a “hoedown,” featuring jazzy rhythms; the third was a ballad and the fourth a very fast, driving movement featuring the brass and percussion sections.

Wind Ensemble then performed “Ballade for Alto Saxophone” by Alfred Reed, featuring soloist senior Alec Friedman. This piece is for alto saxophone and a band, as it emphasized the vocal quality of the saxophone through long lyrical passages accompanied by the band in a harmonic background. This song had a sentimental, retrospective tone to it, especially with Friedman’s solo.

Wind Ensemble concluded their performance with Rossano Galante’s “God’s Country.” A very interesting, engaging and powerful piece, this song was a reminder of the fairytales that captivate children. This song phenomenally depicted the landscapes of our country’s statuesque mountain ranges and waterfalls through soaring melodic lines, brass fanfares and lush harmonies.

Performing songs new and old, Geneseo’s Wind Ensemble, Clarinet Choir and Saxophone Quartet displayed their hard work through their execution of these compositions, each of which celebrated students’ instrumental talent here at Geneseo.