Dartmouth awaits 'Royal' treatment from Wind Symphony
Tonight, the Dartmouth Wind Symphony will present its fall concert, "Meet the Royals," in Spaulding Auditorium at 7 p.m. The Dartmouth Wind Symphony, an organization comprised mainly of students, is rather notorious for its themed concerts, and this particular one will showcase music that has been written for royalty throughout many time periods, including operas, party music and coronation pieces. Conductor Max Culpepper believes that themes create a unique unity in each symphony concert. Narrator Stephen Langley will humorously introduce each piece, giving background information about its composer and its origin.
The symphony will fittingly open with "Fanfare for the Lord Mayor" by Sir Arthur Bliss, who served as Director of the Queen's Music for much of the 20th century. "Lord Mayor" is in reference to the mayor of London; fanfares are used to open ceremonies and introduce people of great importance. Moreover, the fanfare is used to awaken the crowd and raise the spirits of the audience.
Following "Fanfare for the Lord Mayor" will be "Procession of Nobles" from "Mlada" by Nicolas Rimsky-Korsakov. "Mlada" is an opera ballet consisting of four acts that takes place on the coast of the Baltic Sea. It is generally believed that Rimsky-Korsakov was inspired to write the opera from his travels with the navy.
"Courtly Airs and Dances," by American composer Ron Nelson, will be the third piece in tonight's program. "Airs and Dances" is a suite of Renaissance dances that represent the five European countries France, England, Italy, Spain and Germany.
Following that will be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Concerto for Bassoon," perhaps the night's most anticipated piece, with Professor Janet Polk on bassoon playing the solo. Polk earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and went on to receive her masters at the University of New Hampshire.
She is the principal bassoonist of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine, and her extensive solo career has included performances with the Vermont Symphony, Portland Symphony, Indian Hill Symphony, Dartmouth Symphony, UNH Orchestra, Northhampton Chamber Orchestra and Furman University Concert Band.
The bassoon rarely gets a chance to show off its eloquence, and thus, the Mozart concerto promises to impress. The three movements -- "Allegro," "Andante ma Adagio" and "Rondo" -- are quite lengthy and extremely difficult, but the result is magnificent.
"Crown Imperial" by William Walton is one of the pieces for which Culpepper is most excited. Walton is considered to have been one of the finest English composers, and this piece is thought of as vital music for British royal occasions.
Afterwards, the ensemble will perform "Ballo Del Granduca (Grand Duke's Ballet)" by Dutch Renaissance composer Jan Sweelinck, followed by the first, fifth and sixth movements from George Frideric Handel's "Suite" from the "Water Music." Historically, "Water Music" was written as enjoyable background music for a "water festival" held on August 22, 1715 at the Thames River in London, England.
The Dartmouth Wind Symphony will conclude its fall concert with "Coronation Scene" from "Boris Godunov," an opera about 17th-century Russian people first performed in 1874 at St. Petersburg. In order to add some special zest to the finale, the Symphony will be joined by a fellow all-student musical organization, the Dartmouth Brass Society.
The Dartmouth Wind Symphony has been practicing for two hours twice a week to properly prepare for their premiere performance in 2005-2006. The symphony mostly consists of students from the undergraduate classes (along with a few assorted community members and Thayer students) who play a wide array of brass, wind and percussion instruments. Members audition at the beginning of the year to earn their place in the ensemble.
Culpepper is proud of this year's group. "We've been working hard. We're performing a variety of musical periods and overall, the big fanfare sounds are going to be quite enjoyable," he said. "We're anticipating a good audience and tickets are selling well. It should be a great night."