Concert becomes a painting
Hitting off the first of Limestone College Wind Ensemble's Impressions Series, local artist and teacher Noah Lindemann brandished his canvas and brushes in a unique and exciting collaboration with the college's major instrumental ensemble.
Dr. Douglas Presley, music director and professor at Limestone, coordinated the evening's entertainment on Monday, Nov. 19, in Fullerton Auditorium. Throughout the concert, Lindemann, located on stage, painted in view of the audience an impressionistic work inspired by the sonorities coming from the stage before him. At the conclusion of the concert, Lindemann's painting was auctioned to the highest bidder.
Presley opened the concert with Nitro, a fiery and explosive piece by renowned composer Frank Ticheli. The song was inspired by Ticheli's fascination with the element nitrogen. The Wind Ensemble, a mixed chemistry of college students, community members and hired professionals, combined in the opening number for a rousing huzzah.
The remainder of the ensemble's program was selected from a broad palette of international colors.
Following was a lush yet fiercely nostalgic work by Eric Whitacre. October, which Whitacre calls his favorite month, was inspired by "the crisp autumn air and the subtle change in the light," of a quintessential October day. Whitacre, an American composer and former student at Eastman Music School, now lives in Los Angeles and says that his simple, pastoral melodies and subsequent harmonies are inspired by the English Romantic composers Ralph Vaughan Williams and Sir Edward Elgar.
Presley came back to the podium for the Sabre and Spurs March by John Philip Sousa. Living from 1854-1932, Sousa overlapped the careers of both Vaughan Williams and Elgar. If Emerson had lived a few years longer he might have said of Sousa, rather than Thoreau, that "no truer American ever lived." Sousa was patriotic to his core, a man who watched and rallied the young nation through its growth to greatness and its struggle through the First World War. Sousa often said that his occupation was simply as a "Salesman of Americanism." An avid horseback rider, Sousa dedicated the Sabre and Spurs march to the 311th Cavalry. The bouncing, triple meter, as Presley told the crowd, is meant to depict the galloping of a horse.
Juxtaposed to Sousa's military salute was the British Royal coronation march Crown Imperial, written by English composer Sir William Walton. Walton was as British as Sousa was American. The work, based on a line from a William Dunbar poem with the words "In beauty being the crown imperial," was intended for the coronation of King Edward VIII, but due to his abdication was premiered in 1937 for the coronation of King George VI, as well as for Elizabeth II's 1953 coronation.
After intermission, the Wind Ensemble continued the British-American theme. The next two works drew from the commoner dialects of the two nations.
The first was by James Curnow of the early American hymn, "Brethren, We Have Met to Worship," titled simply Variants On An Early American Hymn Tune. Curnow is a foremost current American composer, concentrating, as Sousa, in band literature.
The shades mellowed with the next work, a pastoral setting of an English folk tune by Percy A. Grainger. Grainger was a unique character born in Australia, a musician in the U.S. Army, and later citizen of the U.S., and yet known for his work in collecting and setting British folk music. Presley conducted Grainger's Horkstow Grange, a slow movement from a collection of folk tunes from Lincolnshire, England that Grainger gathered and arranged.
From the English countryside, Presley once more directed the ensemble back "across the pond," this time to New York City. Pulitzer Prize winning composer, William Schumann's George Washington Bridge was arguably the Wind Ensemble's most considerable undertaking of the evening. Based upon Schumann's impressions of the George Washington Bridge in New York City, the work employs a variety of colors, swift changes tempo and rhythmic intensity to capture the moods of the bridge in an artist's eye, from bustling during the day, to pensive or sinister at night. Though certainly fatigued by this point in the concert, the Wind Ensemble held together to complete the intricate and difficult piece.
After a brief rest, Presley and the Wind Ensemble jumped back for one last flourish to top off the evening. Bringing now a dash of France, Presley led the band in Pas Redouble, a convivial and animated two-step march by Charles Camille Saint-Saens.
Lindemann added the last flare of completion to his own freshly inspired painting, which was then auctioned.
Bravo to Presley and Lindemann for a creative evening of culture and entertainment.