The University of Maryland’s Wind Orchestra set the scene for its season debut performance, “Symphonic Celebration,” with a fanfare composed of controlled and energetic notes at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on Friday.
A.D. “L” Fanfare for Wind Ensemble, composed and conducted by Bruce Yurko, introduced a series of pieces arranged with the intention to take the audience on a voyage, according to Michael Votta, the university’s director of bands.
“If you listen to a piece, it’s like looking at a work of art, but it also becomes the frame around the next piece you’re going to hear,” Votta said. “I would like to have the music feel like it all inhabits the same world.”
The wind orchestra rehearsed “Symphonic Celebration” for over four weeks, meeting twice a week to perfect its performance. Senior bassoon performance and physics major Alex Wiedman said the orchestra tends to play music composed after the 1900s. The music typically played tends to be obscure and complex, which is a departure from what most musical groups do, according to Wiedman.
Wiedman said they were most excited to perform Florent Schmitt’s “Dionysiaques” because of the guest conductor and style of the piece.
“[Dionysiaques is] a very bombastic sort of piece. It’s supposed to be a frenzied sort of ritualistic insanity,” Wiedman said. “It’s tricky to line up, but when you get it right, it feels good.”
To Votta, he and his students brought out the best in each other in rehearsals. It was exciting to see his students make progress while rehearsing, Votta said. He found the performance preparations enjoyable.
For Will Hernandez, a second year master’s French horn performance major, rehearsing with the orchestra meant reconnecting with his passion. He took a hiatus from playing the French horn for a few years before returning to the instrument.
“It’s gotten to a point where I think it’s fun to play, rather than a hassle or hobby to have to practice and get better,” Hernandez said. “I’ve learned to love it a lot more.”
Votta arranged the program with an emphasis on French music. Two of the pieces, titled “D’un soir triste” and “D’un matin de printemps,” were composed by a 24-year-old Lili Boulanger, who died of tuberculosis in 1918.
Much of Boulanger’s music went unknown until relatively recently, according to Votta. Her pieces described the stages of the end of her life, from tragic tones of learning that she might not live to an optimistic, upbeat take of life, he said.
Aside from Boulanger, Yurko and Schmitt, “Symphonic Celebration” included lesser-known compositions from Reynaldo Hahn, Leonard Bernstein and Igor Stravinsky. Stravinksy’s piece was composed in memory of his friend and mentor, acclaimed composer Claude Debussy, according to Votta.
“I’d like to bring people together by that and kind of all share these emotions as the pieces go by,” Votta said. “That’s what makes concerts different than rehearsals.”