I attended a partner concert of the University of Illinois’ Wind Orchestra, and Parkland College’s Wind Ensemble on Sunday, September 29, 2013. There were 11 planned pieces in the concert but the Parkland Ensemble played an additional piece not included in the program. Since there were so many pieces played, I will only be able to touch upon a few of my favorites, namely Rosso Galante’s Transcendent Journey, Carl Maria Von Weber’s Trauermusik, and Frank Ticheli’s Angels in the Architecture. Galante’s Transcendent Journey was the second piece that the Parkland Wind Ensemble performed.
It was a very inspiring piece with a strong majestic feel that was carried throughout by a repeated theme and motive. The piece consisted of contrasting sections, where the initial theme was forte and had an excited but seemingly nervous feel, but as it resurfaced time and time again it’s initial crescendo played by strings and trumpets gave way to increasingly softer diminuendos. As the theme regressed to diminuendo, the flutes and clarinets played the theme in a more relaxed and hopeful manner, like they finally made it to the end of their journey.
In the last moments of the piece, drums and cymbals surfaced fortissimo with an exciting crescendo giving the coda a triumphant ending as if the journey was a success. Trauermusik started off with a slow minor theme in the beginning with occasional hopeful but still sad sounding trumpet insertions. The drums were introduced and the piece picked up a little and you wanted to feel like it was getting happier. However, it still sounded sad with despaired melodies coming from the tubas and trumpets.
There was a largo tempo throughout most of the piece, a big contrast from the opening piece played by the UI Wind Orchestra. There was an awkward silence until the musicians put down their instruments and the conductor turned around, and only then did we realize that the piece was over and applauded. At first I did not like this piece, but I realized that it had grabbed and held onto my attention throughout its entirety. Because of that, I admire this piece more than I initially thought I did. The last piece that stood out to me was Ticheli’s Angels in the Architecture.
It opened with a pair of instruments that I had never seen before. They were long white rods on the end of a string that two people swung around in a circle in front of them. They produced a mesmerizing sound and I was entranced for the first minute of the performance. Yvonne Redman’s beautiful soprano voice melted perfectly with the mystical sounds as she sung about the “angel of light”. Suddenly, awkward, low, dissonant sounds started coming from tubas and bassoons, and fortissimo stabbing chords followed. Then the flutes and clarinets started to interject with weird screaming blasts.
It slowly dimished back into the peaceful beginning and Redman’s angelic voice appeared. The bulk of the piece was very difficult to listen to, as I did not like the minor scales and unnatural noises coming from some of the instruments, but hearing Redman sing alongside the swinging rods was worth the discomfort. Overall, the selections made by UI’s Wind Orchestra and Parkland’s Wind Ensemble showcased a broad range of their musical talent. I was very impressed by the variety of emotions that this concert conveyed and I would highly recommend this concert to anyone.