Wind Ensemble to play sounds of Eastern Europe on Friday

by Amelia Rosch | 10/28/15 7:17pm

From Vranje, Serbia, to Zagorje, Croatia, from the 1930s to 2005, the Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble will travel through time and place in their concert on Friday, Oct. 30 as they celebrate Eastern European and Eastern European-inspired music.

The ensemble’s conductor Matthew Marsit said that the concert will be exploring different aspects of Eastern Europe’s musical culture.

“It’s all representative of what it means to be there in time and place,” Marsit said.

He said that in addition to the music, a highlight of the concert will be the presence of special guest conductor Timothy Reynish. Working with Reynish, who is on the staff of the International Chamber Music Studio at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, has been a privilege, Marsit said.

“He is the leading conductor of wind ensembles worldwide,” he said.

Marsit, who is currently on sabbatical from the College, said that Reynish has brought his deep passion for music to the students in the ensemble during the seven weeks he has worked with them. He described Reynish’s individual flair.

“He has a very dry and very British sense of humor,” he said. “He’s Welsh, so he has a very thick accent.”

Friday night’s concert will start with Russian composer’s Nikolai Myaskovsky “Symphony No. 19 in E Flat” (1939). Marsit said that Myaskovsky is considered “the father of Russian symphonic writing” due to his output of concerts.

“When people think of Russian music, they usually think of Tchaikovsky,” Marsit said. “Myaskovsky was much more influenced by Russian folk melodies. Tchaikovsky looked more towards traditions out of Germany.”

Sophie Connor ’18, a member of the ensemble’s flute section, said that she felt a connection to the Myaskovsky piece, as it is the only one that Marsit himself will be conducting in the show. She said she also loves the symphony’s sound.

Fisher Katlin ’19, who plays bass trombone for the ensemble, said that while all the pieces are interesting in their own way, he also enjoys the Myaskovsky piece the most because of its structure.

“It is the most programmatic of our pieces,” he said.

The second piece performed will be British composer Kenneth Hesketh’s “Vranjanka” (2005). Marsit said that “Vranjanka” was commissioned by Reynish as a memorial for his son.

Marsit said that the piece, which is based heavily on a traditional folk melody, has a huge contrast between its opening and its body.

“It’s mostly a dance tune in a complex meter, really fun and celebratory,” he said. “The beginning, though, is almost primordial, an almost cinematic opening before it breaks into the dance.”

The evening’s third piece, “Music for Winds” (2009) by Polish artist Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, was initially written for professional orchestras.

“It was a response to the ‘dumbing down’ of culture,” Marsit said. “It is fabulously well-constructed and for a slightly reduced ensemble. There is three of everything,three flutes, three oboes.”

He said that “Music for Winds” is infamously challenging.

“There are conservatories that balk at letting their members try it,” he said. “The students are doing an amazing job. They’re hitting it head on. I could not be more proud of them.”

The final piece of the evening, Croatian artist Davor Bobic’s “Pictures from Zagorje” (1997), will return to the celebratory tone that was seen in Hesketh’s earlier piece, Marsit said. He said that “Pictures from Zagorje” tells the story of life in the town of Zagorje and takes inspiration from various festivals and celebrations.

“There is a wedding dance section,” he said. “It’s very dance oriented, not how we think of as dance in the west, but dance inspired.”

He said that the Bobic piece will end the concert with a “big splash.”

Connor said that, overall, she enjoys the combination of various pieces in the concert and how they come together despite their differences.

“We have a few that are more traditional songs that you would hear from Russia, and we have a few that are more modern, discordant melodies that come apart and then fall back together at the end,” she said.

She also said that getting the opportunity to work with Reynish has been amazing given his international reputation, but that she has also missed Marsit.

Katlin also said that working with Reynish has been fantastic.

“Since he’s from overseas, he brings a new perspective for us,” he said. “He’s a very good guy.”

Reynish has also conducted the United States Marine Band and the London Symphony Orchestra.

The concert will be at 8 p.m. and in Spaulding Auditorium. Tickets will be $5 for students and between $9 and $10 for general community members.