UVU Wind Symphony celebrates black composers with InclUTion concert

Reading Time: 2 minutes InclUTion, a UVU wind symphony concert on February 27, focused on African-American composers.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The theme for UVU Wind Symphony has been InclUTion for the last year. So far they have presented two shows, one exclusively highlighting female composers and the other compositions written specifically for the band.

The most recent concert on February 27 focused on African-American composers and was the first one of the series performed in the new Noorda Performing Arts Center.

“Welcome to the soft opening—like when a restaurant quietly opens—of an event that you’re not actually seeing,” Thomas Keck, director of bands, said. “We are mostly getting used to the new auditorium before the grand opening in March.”

The first song began with an ominous synthesizer sound. The tune was somber, heavily led by saxophone. There was a joining of subtle drums, maracas and clackers.

There was an interlude with the same oddly eerie and unusual note amid the light-heartedness around it. Cymbals crashed and drums pounded to continue to emphasize that this happiness was a myth. The tune became dissonant, crumbling down to its individual parts as the composition finished.

One of the pieces, “Etched in Stone,” was about Martin Luther King Jr. This song used direct quotes from his life in a lyrical fashion. The narrator was Brenton F. Alston, an assistant professor at Florida International University who was a special guest at the show. This narration was intertwined with quiet, whispering music.

A piano player joined to emphasize the words, which increased in strength, “A man is measured by where he stands… Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love.” An abrupt silence in the tune caused the final words to scream, as a triumphant finish: “We shall overcome.”

Additionally, there was a song about the Charleston, South Carolina bombing. This sorrowful song included ringing church bells. The performers broke into song punctuated by stomps and claps, “Let every voice that sings, sing of liberty.”

“I think the music sounded richer in the new auditorium,” Kim Ledbetter, an audience member, said. “I like what this program has offered my son. He’s really stepped up in his abilities. I feel like he’s getting what he needs.”

Keck had similar sentiments.

“I love the new building. The space is a wonderful facility to house the rich arts, music, dance and theatre productions that will happen here. It absolutely raises the bar on those same programs, but in a good way. Now, great performers like the Utah Symphony will use this same building, and we must perform at that same level,” Keck said.

Photo courtesy of UVU Wind Symphony.

A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Robby Poffenberger as the author of this story. The UVU Review apologizes for the error.