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The Dartmouth
February 24, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Wind Ensemble, Rude Mechanicals celebrate the Bard’s 450th

The Wind Ensemble and Rude Mechanicals will play a joint show this weekend.

The Wind Ensemble and Rude Mechanicals will play a joint show this weekend.

Music and theater will converge when the Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble and Rude Mechanicals present a joint tribute to the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth. Titled “Play On! Shakespeare Set to Music,” the program will splice readings of Shakespeare text with music that he inspired.

Although the wind ensemble has collaborated with instrumental soloists and dance groups in the past, director Matthew Marsit said this is the first time it will perform with a theater troupe.

“We’re all very excited about this collaboration,” Marsit said. “The interface with theater is always great, especially here at Dartmouth.”

The music includes three compositions commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, including Nigel Hess’s “Shakespeare Pictures,” Edward Gregson’s “The Sword and the Crown” and Guy Woolfenden’s “Bohemian Dances,” as well as a composition by contemporary American composer Luigi Zaninelli, “Symphony for Winds and Percussion.” This music will be intertwined with scenes from Shakespeare’s plays.

“The music will undoubtedly increase the richness of the Shakespeare text,” said Natalie Shell ’15 of the Rude Mechanicals. “This program will give our group greater insight into the potential and power of Shakespeare.”

Hess’s “Shakespeare Pictures,” released in 2008, features a melody inspired by “Much Ado About Nothing,” “The Winter’s Tale” and “Julius Caesar.” The brass fanfare of “Much Ado About Nothing” contrasts to the ethereal and natural woodwind playing in “The Winter’s Tale.” This is followed with a rambunctious yet threatening pronouncement for Julius Caesar’s entry to the Senate, marked by stately brass and a prominent organ player.

Gregson’s “The Sword and the Crown,” adapted for symphonic wind bands in 1991, is dynamic as well. The piece, inspired by “Henry IV,” parallels the play’s plot in its first movement with trumpets that swell to signal the death of Henry V, an interchange of English and French music as the two armies square off and a final fanfare as Richard III asserts his authority.

Further movements portray the Welsh Court and final battle scene from “Henry IV.”

“The music is incredibly appealing and attractive,” Marsit said. “It’s tuneful and is the type to leave audiences humming.”

Although the wind ensemble’s nearly 50 members have been fervently practicing the music for the performance, the challenge will be combining each piece’s swift movements with the visual aspect of the Rude Mechanicals’ acting. Monday marked the first time the groups met for a joint practice session to practice the timing of these exchanges.

“It was the first time the ensemble saw the scenes we’re accompanying,” oboist Kate Huffer ’15 said. “We just need to make sure we don’t get distracted and miss our entrances.”

In addition to showcasing a pioneering collaboration between two student-driven groups, Friday’s concert will also serve as a special performance for approximately 500 Upper Valley students for the Hopkins Center’s school matinee series.

“It’s great that we have the opportunity to perform for younger students,” percussionist Cynthia Tan ’17 said. “Music was a huge part of my life growing up, so it’s great to be able to share that with the school kids.”

Friday’s concert will only include the 45-minute Shakespeare set with the Rude Mechanicals. Saturday’s concert, which is for Dartmouth students and the general public, will feature two parts: the same Shakespeare set with an additional second half that features music, Marsit said.

Marsit, who chose the theme and music program, said the show’s second half will develop themes from the first.

“The works will still coincide with the theme,” Marsit said. “The style will be reminiscent of the first half but have a different direction.”

The wind ensemble and Rude Mechanicals met for a final dress rehearsal on Wednesday to work out any final kinks.

Both programs will be held in Spaulding Auditorium. Friday’s show will begin at 10 a.m., and Saturday’s performance will start at 8 p.m.

This articleran in printon Oct. 30 with the headline "Joint tribute celebrates the Bard's 450th."