Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wind Ensemble Emotes and Delivers

Tonight's Crane Wind Ensemble concert was nothing short of extraordinary. Although a classically trained clarinetist, I've never found refuge in art music like I have in rock and roll. Tonight has blown that norm out of the water.

The highlight of the night was easily Roshanne Etezady's "Anahita," an explosive, programmatic, three-movement piece. It encapsulated her reactions to a mural that has since been destroyed, but used to adorn the ceiling of a prominent Albany building. Based on mythology, it features vivid images of the "terrifyingly beautiful" goddess Anahita and the horses, or "Night Mares," as they are so aptly titled. The piece was frantic at times, simply explosive at others. The amount of energy in the piece was phenomenal, and it was absolutely humbling to have the composer present. The final movement was so very delicate and serene. It featured four cornet players scattered through Hosmer Hall, representing the last hearkening of angels.

Conductor Brian Doyle was certainly on his toes, especially for his first concert since his emergency room trip. The amount of passion and effort he puts into the ensembles he works with is nothing short of admirable. It is refreshing to see a conductor and teacher who cares so much about the quality of the group's performance as a whole as well as the needs of his students.

The other new piece, "Interior," by Kristin Kuster (also present at the performance), was less accessible as far as expressionist art music of the 21st century is concerned, but when paired with the composer's notes, could begin to paint pictures in one's mind, of the very unique things that happen within the walled confines of where we live and work. The piece tackled human interaction and emotion very well.

The ensemble as a whole had a way of blending--passing solos from one woodwind to another--that is hard to come by. The horn section ripped out some heart wrenching chords. The two tuba players and string bass held the entire ensemble up on their shoulders. The percussion section, as always, held the group together with its intensity and determination.

Everything about tonight's performance--the refreshing 21st century pieces blended with more traditional literature, the intensity and extreme focus of the performers, the conductor's passion, and how it all came together--absolutely blew me away. Bravo.

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