ROCHESTER, NY — It is fitting that the Eastman Wind Ensemble, the world’s first and arguably most esteemed ensemble of its kind, will pay homage to its late founder, Frederick Fennell, in the prestigious venue of New York’s Carnegie Hall on Saturday, February 26, 2005 at 9 p.m. Dr. Fennell, who founded the Eastman Wind Ensemble (EWE) at the Eastman School of Music in 1952 and led it to glory with its famed Mercury recordings, passed away December 7, 2004.
“We would like to think of our performance at Carnegie Hall so soon after Fred’s passing as a gift,” says current EWE conductor, Mark Scatterday. “Rather than simply mourn the loss of a great man, an American icon, and the international ‘leader of the band,’ we choose to celebrate his remarkable life and legacy. So, ‘his’ ensemble — the Eastman Wind Ensemble — not only honors and celebrates him at Carnegie Hall in front of our CBDNA wind colleagues and audience, but also proudly dedicates our entire concert year to his memory.”
In keeping with the history and tradition of the EWE, Scatterday’s programming beautifully reflects the emotional and stylistic width and breadth of the wind ensemble genre. As part of the four-day College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) conference, Scatterday leads the ensemble in works by Roberto Sierra, David Maslanka, Jeff Tyzik, and Karel Husa. All except Maslanka will be in attendance.
The EWE will preview the Carnegie Hall program in a special free concert for the Rochester public at 8 p.m., Friday, February 18, in Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.).
One of the highlighted works is Karel Husa’s Music for Prague 1968, probably the most significant composition in today’s large wind ensemble repertoire. This work was inspired by the invasion of the composer’s native Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops in August 1968, specifically the entry of invading armies into Prague, which swept away the country’s burgeoning reform movement through the Soviet-engineered coup. Husa’s deep emotional and symbolic message drew from an extensive nationalistic repertoire so strong and deep-rooted in the Czech culture that many famous hymns or chants have survived for 700 years and are still sung in that country today.
In contrast is the world premiere of the wind version of Concerto for Trombone and Wind Ensemble by composer and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik. The piece was written as a result of a National Endowment for the Arts grant with trombone soloist Mark Kellogg, who reprises it at the Carnegie concert. Kellogg is both the Rochester Philharmonic’s principal trombone and professor at the Eastman School. The highly virtuosic three-movement piece utilizes the entire range of the instrument. It reflects many Latin and Afro-Cuban influences, and uses the “call and response” device from both early music and later from jazz. A successful “crossover” artist with a combined background in classics and jazz, Tyzik has worked as a composer and arranger with well-known jazz and pop artists, and his theme music can be heard on numerous major television networks and recordings.
Also on the program is Roberto Sierra’s Fandangos (2000), based on the Fandango for Harpsichord by 18th century Spanish composer Antonio Soler. The wind transcription was written by Dr. Scatterday and premiered in May 2004 on the EWE’s most recent Asian tour. Tears by David Maslanka (1994) was inspired by the composer’s reading of the novel Monnéw by the African writer Ahmadou Kourouma, which tells of the dissolution of a traditional African culture as Europeans overran it. The piece, according to Maslanka, ultimately is about inner transformation.
In recalling Fennell’s visit to Eastman last October (his final public conducting appearance), “Fred mentioned to me how much he was looking forward to this particular program,” said Scatterday. “I know now that he will be there with us in spirit, looking down with a smile and a wink, listening…”
Tickets for the Carnegie Hall performance, which range from $20-40, can be purchased through CarnegieCharge, 212-247-7800, or by visiting www.carnegiehall.org.
Founded in 1952, the Eastman Wind Ensemble is America’s leading wind ensemble and pioneering force in the symphonic wind band movement throughout the world. Well known for its historic recordings and its long tradition of touring, both nationally and internationally, it is made up of undergraduate and graduate students from the Eastman School. Mark Scatterday is only the fourth conductor of the EWE since its founding. He holds a DMA in conducting from Eastman and was a trombonist on the 1992 EWE Japan tour.
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