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Classic works for the wind ensemble performed Oct. 5 at Appalachian

BOONE—Symphonic classics written for wind ensembles will be performed Sunday, Oct. 5, at 3 p.m. at Appalachian State University. The free concert will be presented in the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts on campus.

Dr. John Stanley Ross will conduct the 58-member Appalachian Wind Ensemble along with guest conductors Dr. Charles Isley and Gus Perry. Dr. Drew Leslie from the Hayes School of Music will be featured.

The concert opens with the popular circus march “Entry of the Gladiators” by Julius Fucik. Composed in 1987 for orchestra, the work was later arranged for wind band.

Next on the program is Etic Whitacre’s “October,” written about the composer’s favorite month. “Something about the crisp autumn air and the subtle change in light always make me a little sentimental, and as I started to sketch I felt that same quiet beauty in the writing,” Whitacre wrote about the composition. “The simple, pastoral melodies and subsequent harmonies are inspired by the great English Romantics – Vaughan Williams and Elgar – as I felt that this style was also perfectly suited to capture the natural and pastoral soul of the season.” The composition was premiered in 2000.

Guest trombonist Dr. Drew Leslie will be featured on Launy Grondahl’s “Concerto for Trombone,” written in 1924. The work combines traditional and modern styles from Grondahl’s native Scandinavia.

The wind ensemble will perform the N.C. premiere of Bruce Tippette’s “Ablaze.” Tippette wrote the piece during his senior year at Appalachian. “I wanted to compose a rhythmically complex and taxing piano solo for my composition recital. Several years later, during my final month of graduate school, I took a look back at this piano solo, titled “Ablaze,” and decided to rework it as a Wind Ensemble piece,” he said. “The final product is a rhythmically complex and taxing piece, intertwined with lyrical melodies, unable to be performed on the piano. The wind ensemble provides the ultimate flourish of colors that I was unable to achieve on the piano alone.”

Dr. Charles Isley will conduct one of his favorite compositions – Carmen Dragon’s arrangement of “America the Beautiful.” Isley was director of bands at Appalachian from 1958 to 1978. During that time, he developed the band program, hosted the Northwest District Band Clinic 15 times, and became one of the founders and the first director of Cannon Music Camp. In retirement, Isley worked in the instrumental music program in Watauga County Schools, helping develop a county-wide program in orchestral strings. He served for two years as band director at Watauga High School.

The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was the inspiration for British composer David Bedford’s tone poem “Sun Paints Rainbows on the Vast Waves,” included on the wind ensemble’s program. While composing “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Coleridge had written about a storm off the Cape of Good Hope in which, “The Sea was then very much tossed, and the Wind carrying off the Tops of the waves made a kind of Rain, in which Rays of the Sun painted the Colours of a Rainbow.”

A progression of eight chords forms the basis of the work which features minimalistic techniques and creative percussion writing, including the use of eight tuned wine bottles.

Also on the program is “Four Scottish Dances” by Malcolm Arnold. The movements capture the essence of Scottish dance styles – a slow strathspey, a lively reel, a Hebridean folk song and a lively Highland fling.

Gus Perry will direct the ensemble’s performance of “Rolling Thunder” by Henry Fillmore. Perry is a former band director and department chair at Miami Dade College and was a friend of Fillmore. He is a former president of the Florida College Music Educators Association.

“Roaring Thunder” is another circus march that captures the high-paced excitement that occurs under the “big top” and highlights the ensemble’s trombone section.