The UVU Wind Symphony is an opportunity for band members to explore the full range of their instruments’ sounds, which are typically limited within an orchestra. Because the Wind Symphony is mainly made up of wind and percussion instruments, it has a very distinct sound that separates it from the orchestra. It is described as being more sonorous in nature, but, as the UVU band displayed, it is quite capable of stretching those limitations. They went through different pieces, notable for their unique styles. It required expert breath control on their part to showcase such nuance over a long period of time. It is certainly an impressive feat and shows how much work they put into preparing for this excellent performance.
Visiting from Marietta, Georgia, guest conductor Dr. Lauren Denney Wright has been working with the band for the last several weeks to prepare for this show. Her talent as a teacher and conductor was wonderfully displayed, first by a rendition of “Celebrations” written by John Zdechlik, a piece noted for being “a dynamic work that alternates between two themes: the first utilizes rapid ascending phrases in the woodwinds against a marked background by the brass and percussion and the second grandiose theme is worked into the composition to provide a chance to reflect on past triumphs.”
Immediately following was “Colonial Song” written by Percy Grainger. Originally arranged for piano, this piece upon its initial release was received disfavorably by critics. One even remarked, “My dear Grainger, you have achieved the almost impossible! You have written the worst piece of modern times.” But that did not deter Grainger who reworked the piece several times. It gained popularity in America where it has since been accepted as an essential piece for band musicians. Grainger described this piece as “an attempt to write a melody as typical of the Australian countryside.”
UVU’s Director of Bands and Chair of the Department of Music, Thomas Keck, took over as Conductor from there. For his first piece, he was accompanied by UVU’s Assistant Professor of Horn, Dr. Maddy Tarantelli. Among her many achievements Dr. Tarantelli has performed with the Utah Symphony, Ballet West, and the Boise Philharmonic. Together they presented Wolfgang Plagge’s “Concerto for Horn in F and Symphonic Band.” This was another piece originally written with a different form in mind but has since been adapted for the wind ensemble. It goes through a wide range of movements that bring out the full force of the horn.
The show terminated with Vittorio Giannini’s Symphony No. 3. This piece is of particular interest because it was written specifically for the Wind Symphony during the 1950s and 1960s when this area of music saw fertile growth. It distinguishes itself from earlier band music which was traditionally used by the military for marches and ceremonial occasions. By developing a full symphony out of the wind ensemble, Giannini helped to bring the band beyond its simple origins and grow it into what it is today.