Students in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble will tackle intricate melodies and tricky rhythms this week for their first concert of the spring semester.
Directed by Terry Austin, Ph. D., the ensemble will present their concert Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall in the W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts.
The concert will open with a piece called “Overture for Band” by John Heins, which features the French horn section. Brianna Sklute, music education major and horn player, said other sections also share the melody.
“(There are) beautiful runs and melodies in other sections like the flutes and clarinets,” Sklute said.
The performance also includes “Jug Blues and Fat Pickin’ ” by Don Freund, “Gone” by Scott McAllister, “Moving Parts” by David Sampson and “Fugue a la Gigue” by J.S. Bach and arranged by Gustav Holst. Of the pieces the ensemble will perform, Sklute said Scott McAllister’s “Gone” is a deceivingly difficult song.
“Playing long, sustained notes and remaining in tune and at a quiet dynamic is difficult,” Sklute said. “But it only adds to the beauty of the music when executed properly.”
For the concert opening, Sklute said she anticipates getting to let it rip. Austin, as well as members of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, said they are excited to see the turnout for the performance.
“I always enjoy seeing the look on their faces when we go out on the stage and the lights come up and the audience is there,” Austin said.
Jon Murphy, the principal tubist in the ensemble, said he is most looking forward to performing the piece “Jug Blues and Fat Pickin’.” Murphy said the piece utilizes all the sections of the ensemble to sound like one folk instrument. He said the piece was complicated because it contains interweaving rhythms and intricate harmonies.
“It is crucial for every musician to be in the right place at the right time,” Murphy said.
Though the pressure of being on the same page as your fellow players is intense, Murphy said the piece is a blast to play.
The Symphonic Wind Ensemble has earned a reputation for their performances over the years at locations such as Carnegie Hall and at conventions including American Bandmasters Association Convention and the College Band Directors National Association Southern Division Conference. Sklute said the Symphonic Wind Ensemble is a wonderful group of focused students.
“Studying under Dr. Austin is an incredible opportunity awarded to all of us,” Sklute said.
Austin said he is rewarded by working with the ensemble.
“Their leadership and musical contributions are what make working with this ensemble so much fun for me,” Austin said. “It is also what accounts for much of the success of the group.”
Tickets for the show are available online at showclix.com. The cost is $7 in advance and $10 the day of the performance. The performance is free for VCU students with valid ID.