PLATTSBURGH — A march, an atmospheric world-music piece, a quirky pretty-quick Bach and a South of the Border folkloric piece comprise “Contrasts,” the Adirondack Wind Ensemble’s winter-concert program.
The ensemble, featuring music educators and community musicians, performs Saturday at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts and for the first Eleanor Marcus Memorial Concert Sunday at E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium, SUNY Plattsburgh.
Adirondack Wind Ensemble Director Daniel Gordon usually starts with an idea and puts together a program to suit it.
This time, he assembled distinct and interesting works for the wind-and-percussion ensemble and named the program afterward.
“There are contrasts among the pieces in the program and within the individual pieces in the program,” said Gordon, who is a professor of music at SUNY Plattsburgh.
“What we have in the bigger picture is an energetic march (“March, Op. 99) by Sergei Prokofiev.
“We have the other special thing; we’re premiering the first work that as written for Adirondack Wind Ensemble. We commissioned it from a Montreal composer named Melissa Hui.”
The commissioned work is titled “Living Things.”
“She writes very atmospheric music about the interplay through various groups within the ensemble,” Gordon said.
Born in Hong Kong, Hui has many world-music influences.
“The piece incorporates sounds reminiscent or inspired by a sho, a Japanese mouth organ,” Gordon said. “It’s a Japanese instrument going back to ancient times.
“It has 15 bamboo tubes that have a reed in the individual tubes, and all the tubes are attached together in a mouthpiece.
“You blow through it. You manipulate the pitch by moving your fingers. You can get multiple pitches at the same time that creates harmonies that are different than standard Western harmonies.”
In “Living Things,” Hui utilizes flutes, oboes and clarinets to recreate the sound of the sho.
In stark contrast to these upper-register woodwinds, Hui used the lower-register of the brass family to recreate the grumbling drone of the didgeridoo.
Adirondack Wind Ensemble will conclude the first half of the program with the four-movement “Grand Serenade for an Awful Lot of Winds and Percussion, S. 1000” by P.D.Q. Bach, a fictitious composer invented by American composer/satirist Peter Schickele.
“It’s goofball stuff and all kinds of wacky stuff,” Gordon said. “People play on just on mouthpiece, knock over instruments, stand up and march around the stage. The players laugh so hard, they can hardly play.”
It would be kick for area children to see their teachers not-so teacherish.
MEXICAN FOLK SONGS
After intermission, the program resumes with “La Fiesta Mexicana (1949) by composer H. Owen Reed (1910-2014).
The Mexican folk-song symphony has three movements, encompassing Aztec ritual dance, Catholic Mass and the exuberance of carnival.
“H. Owen Reed went to Mexico on a Guggenheim Fellowship for several months in the 1940s and came back and wrote this piece for winds in association with the Eastman School of Music.”
“La Fiesta Mexicana” features Mexican folk-life elements, such as a mariachi band.
“That’s a big piece, three movements, 25 minutes long,” Gordon said. “It’s stark contrast to the other works.”
Email Robin Caudell:rcaudell@pressrepublicanTwitter: @RobinCaudellIF YOU GO WHAT: The Adirondack Wind Ensemble presents "Contrasts" under the direction of Daniel Gordon. WHEN: 4 p.m. Saturday at Lake Placid Center for the Arts and 2 p.m. Sunday at E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium, Hawkins Hall, SUNY Plattsburgh. COST: $10 general admission; free for students.