ROCHESTER, NY — When the Eastman Wind Ensemble makes its eighth Asian concert tour this spring, it will be an educational and challenging musical experience for the 52 performing students, and an exciting and entertaining experience for the audiences. So promises Music Director and Conductor Mark Scatterday, who took over the helm of the famed ensemble following its 50th anniversary in 2002. The eclectic repertoire, including several premieres, will reflect many distinct and individual voices. The tour, presented by Sony Music Foundation, will wind its way through Japan, Taiwan, and Macao in more than one dozen concerts from May 18 to June 14, 2004. In addition, the sesquicentennial birthdays of Eastman School founder, George Eastman, and John Philip Sousa (“The March King”) will be celebrated throughout the month-long tour.
Eastman Trumpet Professor James Thompson will lend his immeasurable talents as the tour guest soloist, performing a new concerto by established Eastman alumni composers on each of the two programs: Dana Wilson’s Leader, Lieder (2002), and Danzante (2004) by Eric Ewazen. Wilson’s piece is an exploration of the world-wide association with the trumpet as a “leader,” often cast in the musical role of a hero. The concerto reveals an unerring hope for better leaders and, in turn, a better world. The work was commissioned by the International Trumpet Guild and premiered in Manchester, England, with Thompson as soloist. Ewazen took the title of his new concerto from a spectacular Diego Rivera painting by the same name portraying an Aztec-inspired dancer. The three movements bring to life the colors, the sense of mystery, and celebratory joy of the ancient dance.
The rest of the programs feature original wind ensemble works and transcriptions by composers Roberto Sierra, Mark Camphouse, Joseph Turrin, Leonard Bernstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, John Philip Sousa, J. S. Bach, Robert Russell Bennett, Philip Sparke, and Morten Lauridsen. The programming also reflects the EWE’s tremendous history and the contributions of two of its former conductors, Founder Frederick Fennell, and conductor for 37 years, Director Emeritus Donald Hunsberger. Bennett’s Suite of Old American Songs (1950) was one of Fennell’s signature pieces and was featured on the historic first Mercury label recording of the EWE in 1953. Programming Hunsburger’s masterful transcriptions of the well-known Rachmaninoff Vocalise and J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 recognizes Hunsberger as the creator and developer of the EWE Asian tours which began in 1978.
“Professor Hunsberger championed this great opportunity for our students and the music lovers of Asia not only to experience performances at the finest level, but also to have important cultural exchanges,” says Scatterday. Although this is his first tour as music director and conductor of the EWE, Scatterday (a 1989 Eastman graduate) gleaned invaluable experience from both sides of the podium as assistant conductor and additional trombonist during the 1992 tour at Hunsberger’s request.
Lest the Asian music-lovers be the only lucky audiences to experience these concerts, the EWE will be previewing both programs in two free concerts for the Rochester public on Monday, April 5, and Wednesday, April 28 in Eastman Theatre at 8 p.m. The April 5th concert includes works by Roberto Sierra, Philip Sparke, Joseph Turrin, Leonard Bernstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Dana Wilson’s Leader, Lieder. The April 28th program includes works by Bach, Bennett, Mark Camphouse, Bernstein, Lauridsen, and the world premiere of Ewazen’s Danzante.
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. “It is with great honor and privilege that we embark on this fantastic journey,” says an enthusiastic Scatterday. “It is yet another great distinction for the Eastman Wind Ensemble legacy, and we are proud to represent Eastman, the University of Rochester, the City of Rochester, and the United States.”
The Eastman Wind Ensemble tour is supported by the American Embassy in Japan and the all Japan Band Association; with the cooperation of Kodak, and in collaboration with the YAMAHA Corporation.