Wind Symphony to perform at First Presbyterian Church

PINE BLUFF, Ark. – The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) Wind Symphony, under the direction of Professor John Graham, will be in concert Sunday, May 6 in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church at 4:00 p.m. the event is free and open to the public.

The premier instrumental ensemble at UAPB, the Wind Symphony exists to perform wind music that is of the highest quality, while at the same reflecting the diversity to be found in band music of all cultures.  The ensemble is committed to performing works of highly-respected, renowned, and critically-acclaimed composers with special emphasis on African-American composers.

Their program on Sunday will include a work that is among the most challenging in the concert band repertoire: H. Owen Reed’s La Fiesta Mexicana.  This work is full of energetic rhythms, bright colors, and memorable tunes.  It is a programmatic piece whose three movements present specific musical and cultural environments.  In the first movement, the tolling of a church bell begins the prelude and calls the people to the fiesta, the highlight of which is the frenzied dance of the Aztecs.  In the slower second movement, the listener is reminded that fiesta is a religious celebration after all, and this time the tolling bell invites the revelers to a time of worship and contemplation in the cathedral.  The third movement depicts the carnival, Mexico is at its best on the days of the fiesta, a day on which passion governs the love, hate, and joy of the Mestizo and the Indio.  There is entertainment for both young and old—the itinerant circus, the market, the bull fight, the town band, and always the cantinas with their band of mariachis—on the day of days: fiesta.

The program continues with a nod to the history associated with the venue for the concert.  The Presbyterian Church has its roots in Scotland, so the UAPB Wind Symphony has included Malcolm Arnold’s Four Scottish Dances in the program.  Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006) was an English composer, ranking with Benjamin Britten as one of the most sought-after British composers.  His natural melodic gift earned him a reputation as a composer of light music such as in the sets of Welsh, English, Scottish, Irish and Cornish Dances he wrote.  The Scottish dances were composed early in 1957 and dedicated to the BBC Light Music Festival.  They are all based on original melodies, except one, the melody of which was composed by Robert Burns.  The first dance is in the style of a slow strathspey, the second, a lively reel.  The third dance is in the style of a Hebridean song and attempts to give an impression of the sea and mountain scenery on a calm summer’s day in the Hebrides, and the last dance is a lively fling.

Keeping the dance theme, you will also hear the Polka and Fugue from Schwanda, the Bagpiper by the Czech-American composer, Jaromir Weinberger (1896-1967).  For this piece, the Wind Symphony will be joined by the mighty 49-rank pipe organ of First Presbyterian Church played by Dr. André Strydom.

The Wind Symphony has performed for the Arkansas All-State convention, the Historically Black College Symposium in Atlanta Georgia, and this year was the featured Collegiate Wind Ensemble to open the same symposium. The UAPB Wind Symphony continues to feature the great master works of the concert band idiom while exploring contemporary and exciting sounds of this century.

For more information, please call First Presbyterian Church at (870) 534-7831 or Ms. Shelia Early at (870) 575-8919.

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