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Illinois State University Wind Symphony ends season with Southern Harmony concert, April 27

Photo of Anthony Marinello conducting the ISU Wind Ensemble on September 22, 2017

Conducted by Anthony C. Marinello III, the Illinois State Wind Symphony is the University’s premier wind band and features the finest wind and percussion musicians on campus.

The Illinois State University College of Fine Arts and School of Music invite all to the sixth and final Wind Symphony Concert of the 2018–2019 season at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 27, in the Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $6 for students (with student ID) and seniors. The evening will feature Concerto Competition winner Sean Breast and include two compositions by guest composer Donald Grantham.

The concert will open with Grantham’s Southern Harmony. Commissioned by the Southeastern Conference of Band Directors, Southern Harmony has a somewhat exotic sound to modern audiences. The tunes often use modal or pentatonic, rather than major or minor scales. The harmony is even more out of the ordinary, employing chord positions, voice leading and progressions that are far removed from the European music that dominated concert halls at the time. These harmonizations were dismissed as crude and primitive when they first appeared. Now they are regarded as inventive, unique, and powerfully representative of the American character.

Composer Jennifer Jolley’s piece The Eyes of the World Are Upon You (2017), was commissioned by the University of Texas at Austin Wind Ensemble and reflects on the first-ever campus shooting in America, which took place at that university in 1966. Tonight’s performance will be guest conducted by Pamornpan Komolpamorn. Komolpamorn, a native Thai, is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in conducting at the University of Texas at Austin, where she also serves as a graduate assistant with the University Bands. She is also currently an instructor of conducting at the College of Music, Mahidol University (MU), Thailand, where she works as a director and conductor of the MU Symphony Orchestra, the MU Symphonic Band, the MU Concert Band, and the MU Brass Band. She also served as founding director and conductor of the Amass Chamber Ensemble (ACE) since 2010, performing various composers and periods from early to contemporary music.

Following intermission, the concert will close with James Curnow’s Symphonic Variants (1984), featuring Sean Breast on euphonium and Grantham’s J’ai été au bal. 

J’ai été au bal is a celebration of some of the popular/folk music styles of Louisiana, in particular Cajun music and the brass band tradition of New Orleans. The dance flavor of much of the music is suggested by the title “I went to the dance,” and two traditional Cajun dance tunes are employed. The first appears near the beginning and later at the end. “Allons danser, Colinda” (‘lets go dancing, Colinda’) is a boy’s attempt to coax Colinda into going dancing, and part of his argument is “it’s not everyone who knows how to dance the two-beat waltzes.”

Grantham writes of this piece, “The touching little tune does work better in a syncopated two, but is usually represented in the notation as 3+3+2. The second Cajun song is “Les flames d’enfer” (‘the flames of hell’), most often performed as a heavily-accented two-step. My version is much faster and lighter, and is introduced by a country-fiddle style tune. The brass band begins with solo tuba, followed by a duet with the euphonium, and culminating in a full brass presentation.”

Conducted by Anthony C. Marinello III, the Wind Symphony is the University’s premier wind band and features the finest wind and percussion musicians on campus. The Wind Symphony has a national and international reputation for exceptional artistic achievement.

For a schedule of upcoming band concerts and events, visit the College of Fine Arts events calendar and follow the Illinois State University Bands on Facebook.

For tickets or additional information, contact the College of Fine Arts Box Office, located in the Illinois State University Center for the Performing Arts, open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, at (309) 438-2535, or purchase tickets at Ticketmaster.com. Performance parking is available for free in the School Street Parking Deck in spots 250 and above, 400 W. Beaufort St., Normal.

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