In his 28 years, Scott Smedinghoff gave a tremendous amount of music to the communities he lived in, including the Upper Valley, where he was a doctoral student in Dartmouth’s Department of Mathematics. A May 5 concert by the Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble celebrates how music can live on after death, with a program that is dedicated to Smedinghoff and includes one of the last works written by a titan in wind band music.
Titled For Scott, on Saturday, May 5, 8 pm, the concert features the world premiere of Shadowlight, by Cleveland- based composer Kevin Krumenauer, commissioned with a gift from Smedinghoff’s family; the Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, by Igor Stravinsky, with Dartmouth piano instructor Gregory Hayes playing the virtuosic solo Smedinghoff performed with the wind ensemble in 2015; and two works by the late David Maslanka, one of this era’s leading composers for wind ensemble. Not only has the wind ensemble played numerous Maslanka works in recent years, it also hosted a residency by the composer in 2016. This concert includes the New England premiere of Maslanka’s Symphony No. 10, his final work, and his Liberation, on which the wind ensemble will be joined by a chorus made up of singers from several choruses Smedinghoff led or accompanied in the Upper Valley and Bennington, Vt., region, including the choirs of the Lyme (NH) Congregational Church and Thetford (Vt.) Congregational Church and the Lyme-based community chorus Full Circle.
Smedinghoff left an enormous hole in the Upper Valley music scene when he died at age 28 in 2016. Along with playing for two local church congregations and accompanying great numbers of Dartmouth student and faculty musicians, he was the pianist for the wind ensemble and a close colleague of its director, Matthew M. Marsit. In the fourth year of stellar PhD work in a branch of abstract mathematics known as non-communitive geometry, he was also a brilliant and joyous pianist and organist.
“‘Incredible’ only begins to describe his talent,” Marsit told Dartmouth News at the time of Smedinghoff’s death. “We really didn’t view him quite as a student, but as a collaborator. We worked together on many pieces and I trusted him as much as any professional musician I’ve known. …He took particular joy as a collaborator. I was always turning to Scott to take on the most technically challenging pieces. There was nothing that he couldn’t play.”
In this video, Smedinghoff talked about and played bits of the Stravinsky concerto that Hayes will play in his honor (and shows off a fabulous T-shirt!):
In addition to his musical work on campus, Smedinghoff was an active community musician. While doing undergraduate work at Williams College, he led singers in the Bennington, Vt., area—many of whom are making the long trip to Hanover to rehearse and perform in this concert. After coming to Dartmouth, he served as organist for the Lyme (NH) Congregational Church and, shortly before his death, became the choir director at the First Congregational Church in Thetford, Vt. Members of both those choirs are also singing in this performance. They have been assembled and directed by Jennifer Yocom, Thetford Academy choral instructor and the Lyme church choir director, and Patricia Norton, who directs the Lebanon-based Juneberry Singing School and its choruses.
This concert was set in motion by a memorial service for Smedinghoff in Rollins Chapel in January 2016 that was full of beautiful, heartfelt music. With the support of Smedinghoff’s family, who gifted his estate to a DCWE fund for commissioning works, Marsit commissioned a work from Maslanka, whose music satisfied Smedinghoff’s yen for tart modern tonalities and spiky rhythms. Sadly, Maslanka was diagnosed with colon cancer and died soon after, in August 2017, before he could complete the commission. Marsit then turned to young Cleveland-based composer Krumenauer, who had studied with Maslanka over two decades and whose music has been performed by university wind ensembles and professional chamber groups across the country. Krumenauer wrote Shadowlight, a theme and variations for wind ensemble based upon Bach’s Jesu, Meine Freude chorale, a favorite of both Smedinghoff and Maslanka.
The program also will include the New England premiere of one of Maslanka’s final works, his Tenth Symphony, and Igor Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, which Smedinghoff performed brilliantly with the wind ensemble. Dartmouth piano instructor Gregory Hayes will be the soloist.
Gregory Hayes has taught piano and harpsichord at Dartmouth College since 1991. He is a busy chamber musician and orchestral keyboard player, and has appeared as soloist with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. He plays harpsichord, piano, and celesta regularly for the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and has also performed with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York) and Arcadia Players. He has participated often in the New England Bach Festival and Marlboro Music Festival, and on the Mohawk Trail Concerts series. He is longtime music director for the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence (Massachusetts). Hayes is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Amherst College and the Manhattan School of Music. He has also studied at the Hartt School of Music and, for several summers, at the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin College. He has written frequently on music, including liner notes for many recordings and articles and reviews for magazines and newspapers. He lives in Goshen, Massachusetts, and has taught for many summers at Greenwood Music Camp in nearby Cummington.
Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble
One of the premiere ensembles of the Hopkins Center, the DCWE [D-C-wee] is a select, auditioned wind ensemble of 50 members, performing a wide variety of music from the late 19th, 20th and 21st century wind ensemble repertoire. Offering three concerts per year in Spaulding Auditorium, the DCWE also gives several special event performances on and off campus, including an annual performance at Dartmouth’s Commencement. Wind Ensemble concerts take on a wide variety of formats ranging from chamber to symphonic ensembles, from the traditional to the avant-garde. Ensemble members also have the opportunity to conduct and mentor young musicians through the Dartmouth Youth Winds program and other community outreach projects.
Matthew M. Marsit
An active conductor and clarinetist, Marsit has led ensembles and performed as a solo, chamber, and orchestral musician throughout the United States. Currently on the artistic staff of the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts at Dartmouth College as Director of Bands, Matthew also serves as the Music Director of the Charles River Wind Ensemble in Boston. In demand nationally as a guest conductor, Matthew has enjoyed invitations to lead ensembles throughout the United States, including major institutions like the University of Colorado, Oregon State University and the Boston Conservatory. Matthew has previously held conducting positions at Ithaca College, Cornell University, Drexel University, Symphony Nova, the Chestnut Hill Orchestra, the Bucks County Youth Ensembles, the Performing Arts Institute of Wyoming Seminary and the Eastern US Music Camp.