Review: Wind ensemble in a celebratory mood for season opener
SCHENECTADY The Capital Region Wind Ensemble opened its 20th season Sunday afternoon at Schenectady County Community College’s Taylor Auditorium in celebratory style.
That was what Brett Wery, the 56-piece group’s conductor, hoped for. Founded in 1994 as a forum for regional music educators and a few select high school students to play great wind music, the CRWE has been at SCCC for 10 years. Wery, who teaches at the college, was also one of the group’s founding members, he told the crowd.
Because of these seasonal highlights, Wery chose pieces that had been either written for the group or showed off what it could do. They began with a world premiere of sorts of Daniel Kallman’s expanded version of “An American Tapestry,” which was originally for only 11 players. The “tapestry” was an interweaving of three folk tunes, one of which sounded like a Civil War ditty. The orchestration was light, bouncy, and colorful with twists and turns as the motifs moved from section to section.
Clare Grundman’s “Hebrides Suite” (1957) was four Scottish folk tunes that varied in tempo from the dramatic and martial, to a pretty love ballad and one having hints of Scottish ornamentation. Wery conducted in an efficient style with a clear beat and strong cues.
John Barnes Chance’s “Variations on a Korean Folk Song” (1965) considered a masterpiece for wind ensemble had a melancholy melody put through about three variations with the percussion section getting a good workout. Wery maintained good control over the various dynamics.
The finale was H. Owen Reed’s pictorial “La Fiesta Mexicana” (1956), which could have been a great film score. Reed adroitly depicted a Christian holiday in which supplicants dragged themselves to the church while others did an Aztec dance. There was a Mass followed by a carnival with a mariachi band. CRWE had sounded strong and competent up to this point, but it really hit its stride and got into every nuance of the piece from the seven-member offstage mariarchi band to the six-member trumpet section. Herb Alpert had nothing on them. A standing ovation was well deserved.