By Nicole Towne, Publicity Intern, with Jennifer Clary
The Colorado State University Wind Symphony 2017-18 season highlights the University’s commitment to excellence through the “State of” series. And on April 16, the group is performing the final installment of the series, “State of Imagination.”
The idea for the series came from the Wind Symphony’s conductor, Rebecca Phillips, CSU’s director of bands and associate professor of music. “The whole point of this series is to explore music and its collaboration with other art forms,” Phillips said. “Art is never in a vacuum and [the forms] all end up being combined and influenced by one another.”
The series began in October with “State of Inspiration,” which was focused on the connection between music and literature. The second performance, “State of Innovation,” selected movies and electronics as the focus and featured a performance of the Star Wars overture by John Williams. The most recent performance was based on themes and sounds that came out of French Impressionism, showing how bright colors and quick and heavy brush strokes on a canvas crossed over into music.
The “State of Imagination” celebrates the University Center for the Arts’ upcoming 10th anniversary by focusing on what the UCA does best — music, theatre, and dance. Phillips said not only will this concert showcase the talent of students but highlights faculty as well.
Assistant Professor of Dance Madeline Harvey is performing her own choreography to Warren Benson’s “Solitary Dancer.” The director of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, Dan Goble, is joined by CSU’s Peter Sommer and Wil Swindler, along with Scott Turpen, chair of the University of Wyoming’s Department of Music, for a theatrical saxophone quartet performance of Michael Colgrass’s Urban Requiem. The importance of theatre at CSU is emphasized through a medley of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story.
“State of Imagination” is also featuring the world premiere of a musical arrangement by Composition Professor James David. David’s piano concerto Swing Landscape: Rhapsody for Piano and Wind Orchestra takes inspiration from the 1920s and 30s and is named after Stuart David’s painting, “Swing Landscape,” which depicts an urban community painted with bright colors. The composer was also influenced by George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”
David said he has enjoyed working with Phillips and the ensemble, as well as CSU Piano Professor Tim Burns. “They are both some of the absolute finest musicians I’ve encountered in their fields, and it’s quite thrilling to take a short walk from my office to work with such amazing talent,” David said. “Of course, it is always a pleasure to work with our students in the Wind Symphony, especially as this ensemble has, in my opinion, become one of the finest college bands in the Midwestern and Rocky Mountain regions.”
Master’s student Kevin Poelking is directing two pieces on the concert, which will be performed back-to-back to create a dream-like sequence: Dmitry Shostakovich’s Prelude in E-flat Minor Op. 34, No. 14 is followed by Eric Whitacre’s Sleep. “The prelude is an incredibly dark and brooding piece of music that builds to an incredible climax of angst and despair,” Poelking said, adding that Whitacre’s piece has been one of his favorites for some time. “It is a haunting, soothing, and exhilarating musical representation of lying in bed trying to fall asleep as thoughts race through your head. The harmony and mood of these pieces fit very well together, and we wanted to combine them to tell a story of a restless mind seeking solace in a dream.”
Poelking added that a highlight of studying at CSU has been working with students and faculty. “The students have been very welcoming, and it has been a great learning experience watching Dr. Phillips build the band program and inspire her students,” Poelking said.
Tickets to “State of Imagination” are available at csuartstickets.com. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 16, in Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center for the Arts.