Concert season ends
The Colby Wind Ensemble finished its 2011-2012 season this weekend in Lorimer Chapel.
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As its final bow for the 2011-12 season, the Colby Wind Ensemble gave a fantastic performance this Saturday, April 7, in Lorimer Chapel. The show, titled “Vocal Influence from Song, Musical, & Opera,” featured a diverse set list inspired by poetry and verse.
Ensemble director Eric Thomas began the show by stating that he has “been doing a lot of visiting of old places in [his] life” and that these memories have helped him choose the pieces for the concert. He remembered, in particular, the work that he did in the Opera Company of Boston, under the tutelage of then-director Sarah Caldwell.
The opening piece, the Overture to Candide, was taken from the operetta by American composer Leonard Bernstein. The piece, based on Voltaire’s novella of the same name, is a mockery of “the idea of optimism, [the attitude that] everything that happens happens for the best.” It contained a spirited back-and-forth between the flutes and the clarinets, and an overall playful tone.
The second piece was the first movement of Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B-flat Major, titled “Allegro.” The work featured a tenor saxophone solo, played wonderfully by Will Norton ’13.
The arrangement, written by Norton himself, featured a back-and-forth between the soloist and the rest of the ensemble. There was also an interesting counterpoint between the tenor saxophone and the clarinets, as well as an extended solo part without accompaniment.
The last piece of the first half was Sammy Nestico’s “Reflections.” Nestico is a famous big band and jazz composer, and Thomas commented that the composer’s repertoire is reminiscent of some high school jazz band set list. “[Nestico] wrote the perfect pieces,” Thomas said. “They were complex-sounding but easy to play.”
“Reflections” was an especially poignant word written by the composer, in memory of a colleague in the music industry who passed away at a young age. Throughout all three movements, the piece sustained a melancholic, elegiac tone. The first movement, in particular, began with an eerie counterpoint between the piano and the percussions.
After a short intermission, Thomas opened the second half with selections from Mozart’s opera, Don Giovanni. Thomas remembered playing the piece while he was on tour with Opera New England. The company had a smaller ensemble and brought downsized versions of operas to different parts of the region. With both humor and drama, “[Don Giovanni contains] an accurate description of the human condition,” Thomas said.
The piece is based on the myth of Don Juan, a libertine who takes great pleasure in seducing women. The arrangement featured four songs from the opera, including “Madamina, il catalogo è questo” (Little lady, this is the catalogue), sung by Don Giovanni’s manservant, Leporello, in order to distract Donna Anna, whom Don Giovanni has wronged and is trying to evade. The song has a playful, whimsical tune, appropriate to the listing of Don Giovanni’s numerous sexual conquests.
Following the selections from Don Giovanni were two songs based on poems composed during the American Civil War, which illustrated “the everyday death that happened at the time.” The two songs, titled “Who’ll Save the Left” and “All Quiet Along the Potomac Tonight,” were sung beautifully by Faculty Fellow in Music Ryan Dohoney.
Capping the night were selections from Puccini’s acclaimed opera, Turandot. In the story, a prince is smitten by the beautiful, yet cold, Princess Turandot. Hoping to marry her, he has to answer three riddles, lest he gets beheaded. The prince successfully solves the riddles, but Turandot is still hesitant to marry him. Out of his compassion, he says that if she is able to guess his name by midnight, then he will have himself beheaded. By the end of the night, when asked what the prince’s name is, Turandot answers that his name is true love, implying that she has fallen in love with the prince.
The opera contains the celebrated aria, “Nessun Dorma,” popularized in the 20th century by the late Italian tenor, Lucian Pavarotti. The piece served as a grand finale to a magnificent night of music.
At the end of the concert, Thomas said goodbye to the graduating Wind Ensemble members, and looked forward to the rest of the Music at Colby performances this semester.