ROCHESTER, NY The Eastman Wind Ensemble flies to Japan May 30 for a three-week, 13-concert tour with conductor Donald Hunsberger.
This is the ensembles sixth tour sponsored by Sony Music Foundation with additional support from Eastman Kodak Company. The group is comprised of Eastman School of Music students selected by audition.
For the first time, the ensemble also will perform in Naha, Okinawa, and in Taipei, Taiwan. Appearing with the 48-member wind ensemble in alternating programs are two popular Japanese soloists: saxophonist Nobuya Sugawa, concertmaster of the Tokyo-Kosei Wind Orchestra, who will perform the saxophone concerto by Henri Tomasi; and jazz pianist Makato Ozone, who will be featured in Gershwins Rhapsody No. 2. Two Eastman vocalists, soprano Nicole Cabell and baritone Daniel Spiotta, also will perform with the wind ensemble.
The Eastman group, which will mark its 80th concert in Japan on this tour, generally plays to standing-room-only crowds, and the young musicians enjoy near rock-star popularity. This year, the group is booked for two concerts in Tokyos Opera City, the newest concert hall in the city.
Hunsberger said the ensemble, noted for its "big, dark, orchestral sound," is preparing two different concert programs, each with about 75 minutes of music.
In addition to the public concerts, wind ensemble members also will present a music clinic for school children in Yokohama, sponsored by Kodak. Hunsberger also has workshops and classes scheduled with young musicians.
"The educational outreach is very much in keeping with Eastmans philosophy," says Hunsberger, professor of conducting and ensembles at the School. "And the sessions are very well received."
Founded in 1952, the Eastman Wind Ensemble is known throughout the world as a pioneer of the symphonic wind music tradition. Hunsberger, professor of conducting and ensembles, became conductor in 1965. The ensemble can be heard on more than 50 recordings, icnluding "Live at Osaka," a recording of the 1990 Japan tour performances by Sony Classical, and "Carnival" with soloist Wynton Marsalis, a CBS Masterworks recording of showpieces for wind band and cornet.
Established in 1921 by George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Co., the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., has achieved international prominence including the top ranking in the U.S. News and World Report survey of the nations best graduate schools. Five Eastman-trained composers and three faculty members have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music, and the Schools graduates are members of all of Americas leading orchestras. Each year, the Eastman School presents more than 700 concerts by guest artists, faculty members and talented student ensembles. The Schools Community Education Division provides musical instruction at all levels for children and adults.