Eastman Wind Ensemble

50th Anniversary News/Press


International conference and special concert will be held at Eastman School in February 2002

ROCHESTER, NY — The Eastman Wind Ensemble — America’s leading wind ensemble and pioneering force in the symphonic wind band movement throughout the world — is poised to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding with an international conference on wind music, a gala concert, and a multi-CD set of new recordings.

The conference, titled “Focusing on the Future, Discovering our Heritage,” will take place at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, from February 6-9, 2002.  It will bring together more than 200 wind music advocates and specialists, as well as the three conductors who have led the Ensemble to international prominence during its 50 years: current, 36-year conductor and esteemed Eastman faculty member Donald Hunsberger, legendary founder Frederick Fennell, and Fennell’s immediate successor A. Clyde Roller. Highlights of the conference, which is being held in conjunction with meetings of the Eastern and North Central Divisions of the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA), as well as the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE), include:

  • The world premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Bernard Rands’ commissioned work Unending Lightning for the Eastman Wind Ensemble (EWE), performed in a gala concert (on Friday, February 8) in Eastman Theatre — 50 years to the day that the Wind Ensemble played its first concert at Eastman;
  • Performances by the percussion ensemble Nexus (called “the high priests of the percussion world” by The New York Times and featuring Eastman alumni Robert Becker, William Cahn, Robin Engelman, and John Wyre), highlighting the development of percussion over the past five decades;
  • Solo performances by Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal clarinetist (and Eastman alumnus) Larry Combs and former associate principal hornist Gail Williams;
  • Workshops and presentations that reflect 50 years of musical diversity of the Eastman Wind Ensemble — including sessions on “Richard Strauss’ Final Works,” “Charles Ives’ Musical World,” “Orchestrating for Winds,” and “The West Point Commissions, 1952 & 2002,” among others;
  • A special historical session on music from the founding of the Wind Ensemble, jointly presented by Hunsberger and Fennell;   
  • A composers’ panel, which includes distinguished composers Warren Benson, Karel Husa, Bernard Rands, and Dana Wilson.  
  • A session on the development of international repertoire sponsored by WASBE, featuring Timothy Reynish (England), Felix Hauswirth (Switzerland), Toshio Akiyama (Japan), and Dennis Johnson (USA).In addition to the Eastman Wind Ensemble, other ensembles performing at the conference include the Ithaca College Wind Ensemble, the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music Chamber Winds, and the United States Military Academy Band at West Point.

To commemorate the Wind Ensemble’s golden anniversary and its longstanding relationship with Hunsberger, Warner Bros. Publications is issuing a multi-CD set featuring never-before-released recordings made by the EWE in the past 10 years. This set — which includes music performed during the Wind Ensemble’s biennial tours to Japan in the past decade and in Rochester — will be publicly unveiled at the conference and subsequently distributed commercially.

“This anniversary celebration salutes all the performers who have been a part of the Wind Ensemble for the past 50 years,” said Hunsberger, who will retire in May 2002 after a distinguished 40-year career at Eastman as conductor, educator, and scholar. “The Ensemble has led, guided, and set the standard for many of the contemporary wind band programs around the world through its repertoire development and performance techniques. We have much to celebrate.”

“During 50 incredible years, the Eastman Wind Ensemble has set the standard for excellence in wind music,” said Eastman Director and Dean James Undercofler. “When our graduates go on to professional positions as performers and educators, they often re-create the Wind Ensemble and its mission. You can go almost anywhere in the world today and find a wind ensemble in the likeness of the Eastman Wind Ensemble.”

The gala concert in Eastman Theatre on February 8, 2002, is at 8 p.m. and will be free and open to the public. In addition to the premiere of the Rands’ commission, the Wind Ensemble also will perform Verne Reynolds’ Piano Concerto (with Eastman faculty pianist Barry Snyder, soloist), Richard Rodney Bennett’s Four Seasons, and Karel Husa’s Percussion Concerto (featuring the acclaimed Nexus ensemble). These composers are all planning to attend the concert.

Registration information and conference specifics (exact times, locations, presenters, etc.) are available online at www.rochester.edu/Eastman/ewe, or by calling 585-274-1440 (Eastman’s Conducting and Ensembles office) or faxing 585-506-0138. For more information on the Eastman School itself, visit www.rochester.edu.

Note to editors: Donald Hunsberger and Frederick Fennell are available for print and broadcast interviews. Current and archival photos of the Eastman Wind Ensemble are available as well.

Local press: Martial Bednar, 585-274-1052
National press: Amy Blum, 585-425-1864