It’s wonderful to hear fresh interpretations of well-known pieces of music, but it’s also important to hear the music of the here and now. That’s the emphasis of the Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble: music by living composers, as well as those older works that represent significant periods of change or development for the wind ensemble.
The wind ensemble has gone a step further this season, bringing to its audiences the work of composers who are usually underrepresented in United States. In fall, the ensemble celebrated the great work of four outstanding women composers. This term, the wind ensemble’s February 18 concert, Journey to the East, focuses on the great wind band music of East Asian. Each of the nations represented – China, Thailand and Japan – enjoys a strong wind band tradition, in many ways greater than that of the United States, says the wind ensemble’s music director, Matthew M. Marsit in program notes for the concert playbill. “In each country, a concert-goer can easily find world-class professional wind bands, government and municipal ensembles, and military bands, as well as outstandingly well-trained school ensembles, many of whom focus their attention largely on the performance of music of composers from their own nation. They have vast repertoires of music that rarely makes its way across the Pacific, until now.”
These works offer fascinating fusions of traditional East Asian musical elements – its scales, forms and particular instrumental sounds – with the old and new sounds of the international wind band tradition.
Below, a Taiwanese performance of one of the works on the February 18 concert.
To further enrich this experience for its students and audience, the wind ensemble has arranged to bring in an outstanding Thai musician, Vanich Potavanich, a renowned trumpet player and the conductor of Thailand’s Royal Bangkok Orchestra – and also a world-class composer. Throughout the week leading up to the concert, Potavanich will coach student musicians, visit classes, and otherwise share his marvelous musicianship and perspective – and on Sunday, February 18, he’ll conduct the wind ensemble on two of his works.
Below, a Thai conservatory ensemble performs one of the works by Potavanich in the February 18 concert.
In concerts like these, music serves a higher calling, writes Marsit. “In a time when our nation feels fractured and divided, overly focused on individualism and self, and the practice of artful and constructive discussion and compromise seems lost, I am extremely proud of the work we do here in the Hopkins Center, allowing art to serve as a vehicle for bringing people together. For our students and the talented community members who share in our process, success can only be achieved when we willingly leave our ‘baggage’ at the door and join in the mutual understanding that our whole can only be enjoyed through the sum of each of its essential parts; that each performer carries equal value as we work toward one common goal of musical excellence. It requires compromise, careful listening and understanding of others, compassion, empathy and invested interest in something greater than one’s self. We approach each rehearsal and concert performance with great respect for one another, the composers, the audience and for the art that we serve, all without diminishing others in the process. This is the reason why your attendance means so very much to us. It’s not about ticket sales or bravura, but community.”