By Susan Bonicillo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 20, 2005
You've got to admire their adaptability.
The University of Arizona Wind Ensemble, composed of approximately 60 of the finest musicians on campus, is presenting its second concert of the fall season in honor of the recently deceased composer Alfred Reed.
Reed, an icon in the wind concert world, passed away on Sept. 17 at age 84. The upcoming performance "Tribute to Alfred Reed" was organized quite spontaneously as a tribute in his honor, according to director and School of Music professor Gregg Hanson.
Not only a great admirer of Reed's work, Hanson was also a personal friend of the legendary composer.
Hanson first met Reed - who he described as "brilliant, outgoing, compassionate, warmhearted yet aggressive" - at a music clinic at the University of Utah. Their friendship spanned approximately 30 years.
Out of Reed's more than 200 published works Hanson selected "Russian Christmas Music" and "In Memoriam" for the performance.
"'In Memoriam' was written for the Kent State shooting back in the Vietnam Era," Hanson said. "It was written for the purpose for honoring the dead, so it seemed like a logical thing to have it."
"Russian Christmas Music" has a deceptive title, as it finds it basis in Russian Orthodox Liturgy. According to Hanson, it's Reed's best piece and probably the most played and most personal.
The students who comprise the Wind Ensemble are quite elite, as competition is fierce for the few spots available and several hundred audition each year, according to Hanson.
"All of them are either music performance majors or in music education," Hanson said. "They are the best of the best, very hardworking and motivated and I love every minute of it."
One of these performers is Salvatore Boenzi, a clarinet performance and music education sophomore who described the working environment as "hardworking but fun." Boenzi was both impressed and slightly intimidated by his peers in the ensemble.
"The skill level of all the members of the ensemble is very high, and at first, I didn't think that I belonged in it. But I became accustomed to the level of demand that Professor Hanson has, and it's become very fun and rewarding."
No stranger to Reed's work, Boenzi played his work in high school and has a deep appreciation for his style.
"What I love most about the pieces are the contrasts between the sections, and how powerful each one is regardless of how loud or how many instruments are being utilized. The emotion put into each piece is very obvious to the ear, and I think that gives each piece an extra level of depth that some literature doesn't have."
Putting this performance together has been hectic, according to Brian Shelton, a School of Music doctoral candidate and assistant conductor in his second year with the Wind Ensemble. The rehearsal schedule has been grueling and quite sudden but the results have been successful, Shelton said.
"There is always a challenge in putting a tough program together," Shelton said. "The group finally turned the corner last week and the music has started to really come together. The concert will be great. "
Cooperation is key with such a large group, and in this band, despite a myriad personalities, clashing has been kept to a minimum.
"The rapport is great.†When you have an ensemble that performs at such a high level, everyone has the same - or similar - goals.†The main goal is to make great music.†When you have that, then the rapport comes naturally. That goal overcomes personality clashes.†They simply should not exist in the rehearsal room," Shelton said.
The Wind Ensemble will perform today at 7:30 p.m. in Crowder Hall, located in the UA School of Music Building, 1017 N. Olive Rd. Along with Reed's work, two additional pieces, "Grand Central Station" by Michael Torke and "Trittico" by Vaclav Nelhyel, will also be played. Admission is free.