The Wind Area Collage provides unique music experience

Concert featured 17 musical groups in 70 minutes of nonstop performance


Photo by Deanna Kolell

The trombone choir performed “O Magnum Mysterium” by Morten Lauridsen, which had a warm, ethereal sound. Dr. Phillip Ostrander said he is partial to this piece because the trombone is his instrument.

Although collage is typically an artform reserved for the visual arts, the Wind Area Collage utilized it through music, piecing together unique musical compositions to create a new entity.

The Wind Area Collage took place 7 p.m. Friday in Gantner Concert Hall in Haas Fine Arts Center, featuring 17 different ensembles performing an equal number of pieces.

Rather than remaining onstage, each ensemble played in a different spot around Gantner Hall. Junior music and studio art student Siri Stensberg said one reason for this arrangement is to minimize changeover time.

By performing in different locations, the groups were able to set up and begin playing as soon as the previous ensemble ended, nearly eliminating the transition time between each performance.

“The different ensembles scattered throughout, performing in different areas, keeps the audience more engaged,” Stensberg said. “They don’t have to stare at the same stage the entire concert.”

Each group selected its own piece to perform, Stensberg said. However, the Wind Area Collage alternated vivacious pieces with more delicate pieces, further engaging audience members by providing an unpredictable variety of genres.

The concert opened with the wind symphony brass and percussion performing “Fanfare for Full Fathom” by John Mackey, which could be taken straight from a superhero movie. The piece takes off at full throttle — majestic and loud with a continuous underlying tension until it resolves triumphantly in Eb major.

From there, groups appeared all over Gantner Concert Hall. The oboe quartet came second. Lined up along the left side of the hall, they played “The New York Girls” by Charles Sayre. The light, airy piece was reminiscent of a carnival or Super Mario Bros.

Stensberg played the French horn with the horn studio ensemble’s rendition of “Sextet for Horns” by Gregory Kerkorian.

“It’s always fun to play with members of my studio,” Stensberg said. “The piece has a syncopated, showy jazz feel to it, which makes it super fun to play.”

The concert also allowed the audience to travel through time. Some pieces were composed around 400 years ago, like Samuel Scheidt’s rich, full-blooded “Canzon,” performed by the euphonium quartet.

However, some pieces were more contemporary and experimental, like Cornelius Boots’ “Tooth and Claw” from 2007. Performed by the bass clarinet quartet, this piece contained an underlying, sinister mantra with overlying dissonant, shrill chords, like nails on a chalkboard.

The wind symphony finished the concert with “Astrarium” by Peter Van Zandt Lane. The piece sounded like a high-speed chase, contrasting the big brass with the higher notes. By the end, it left the sense of breathlessness and relief.

Junior music student Jaryn Danz said she liked how the ensembles played from different spots. When she saw the number of groups playing, she was worried the concert would take a long time, but she then she realized there was no intermission or breaks between songs.

Sophomore English and music student Eliza Morris agreed. She said the setup made transitions very quick. She also said the Jazz Combo II piece was one of her favorites.

Dr. Phillip Ostrander, conductor of the Symphony Band and music professor, said while the variety of compositions was an excellent feature, another unique element of the Wind Area Collage is all proceeds will go toward scholarships for wind, brass and percussion students.

Aside from the Viennese Ball, Ostrander said, no other event offers this direct funding to music students’ scholarships.

In the end, the Wind Area Collage provided an extraordinary musical experience through exceptional variety and unconventional performance style.