“A B-flat for everybody!”
With that specific battle cry, conductor Andrew Pease kicked off the Columbia University Wind Ensemble dress rehearsal for “Light.” The show will take place on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. in Lerner Hall’s Roone Arledge Auditorium.
Performing six pieces over 90 minutes, the ensemble promises to deliver a rousing show. The compositions are eclectic, ranging from Icelandic pop singer Björk’s composition “Overture from Dancer in the Dark” (from the 2000”) to Rob Smith’s “Beacon Fires.” The latter was the prizewinning runner-up in the 2010 Columbia Summer Winds Outdoor Composition Contest.
Together, the pieces showcase a tremendous overall contrast between light and dark.
A compelling aspect of the ensemble is conductor Pease himself. Genial, passionate, and energetic, Pease commands attention while providing support to members of the ensemble. He keeps the proceedings fresh with his wry sense of humor. Sometimes when he is thoroughly captivated by the music, the audience can’t help but be enthralled along with him.
The ensemble itself is polished, conveying a great sense of camaraderie and cohesion between the members. During “Dancer in the Dark,” the trombones, French horn, and saxophone players all stand and line up with each other. This staging is done in a way that projects maximum sound but also presents a unified front that reflects the grandeur of the composition.
Another piece in the show, “Shadow Rituals,” features an impressive solo from bassoon player Jimmy Caldarise, CC ’13, in one of the middle movements.
The highlight of the show is Frank Ticheli’s 2008 composition “Angels in the Architecture,” for which Pease trades conducting roles with Berkley Todd, CC ’12. The piece opens with a haunting showcase of Whirly tubes—corrugated plastic cylinders swung in a circle to produce noise. The compelling sound is contrasted with a melody provided by a soprano singer. “Angels in the Architecture” builds from a sparse texture to a number of thrilling movements, showcasing interplay between light and dark textures to tremendous effect.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the pieces chosen for the show is their ability to take full advantage of the wind ensemble, especially its potential to build from deep lows to powerful crescendos. Backed by skilled percussionists who expertly shuttle between multiple instruments, the ensemble proves plenty capable of carrying the audience through an energetic evening of music.
At one point in rehearsal, Pease shouts “Heads. In. Game!” The entire ensemble quickly takes that sentiment to heart, translating it to a rousing performance.