‘Man and Machine’ takes to the stage

Elise Barnett

The Washburn wind ensemble ended the semester with a bang this past Wednesday with a concert featuring the Washburn percussion ensemble and university band.

“We entitled this collection ‘Man and Machine’,” said Mark Norman, director of bands. “It’s about man, about emotion, and about what man can build and sort of the dichotomy between those.”

The Washburn University Band began the concert with pieces by Larry Daehn and Brian Balmages and ended their section with a large production entitled “Of Sailors and Whales” by Francis McBeth which features lines from the Melville classic “Moby Dick” read by Tom Morgan, associate professor of music, guest ensemble director for the percussion ensemble.

“Moby Dick is quite the powerful character,” said Norman. “You’ll hear that in the music.”

With individual song meant to represent different pieces of the nautical adventure, “Of Sailors and Whales” featured a choral section sung by the university band members.

Though Washburn has featured a university band before, there was something special about this performance.

“In the past, we’ve not had university band in the fall,” said Norman. “We’re a ‘town ‘n gown’ band, that is, a school and community based band open to the public, but you can also take it for credit.”

After the band finished their collection, the musicians hastily rearranged the chairs and larger instruments to make room for the wind ensemble to perform.

The wind ensemble began with a hauntingly realistic piece entitled “Ghost Train” composed by Eric Whitacre. The percussion accents and rhythm of the music coming from the flutes, horns, and clarinets combined to create a unique musical sensation.

“It sounded like a real train was in the concert hall,” said Deidre Barnett, member of the Washburn Alumni Association. “It was really cool.”

Next, the wind ensemble played another collectively awing piece entitled “Aurora Awakes” by John Mackey.

Inspired by Roman mythology, this piece musically symbolized the Goddess Aurora alerting the world that her brother Sol, the sun, was coming.

“Incredible displays of imagery can be produced by such a group,” said Norman, commenting on the talent of his ensemble and on their execution of the piece.

The last section of the concert featured the first piece ever performed by the new Chamber Wind Ensemble. The piece entitled “Sinfonia fur Blaser,” by Gaetano Donizetti emphasized the acoustic qualities of the wind instruments.

After another stage transition, the percussion ensemble, directed by Morgan, took the stage.

Their performance piece entitled “Portico for Percussion Orchestra” by Tom Gauger featured every piece of the ensemble individually and collectively making for an intense and thrilling performance.

“The percussion piece was definitely my favorite,” said Barnett. “It was powerful and sweet at the same time.”

To close the concert, the wind ensemble returned to the stage joined by a three-person ensemble know as the Washburn Percussion Collective.

“They are not only talented percussionists,” Norman said of the collective members. “They’re also born leaders.”

Theodore Musick, David Liston and David Wingerson make up the Washburn Percussion Collective and played different percussion instruments all over the stage during the performance of “The Glory and the Grandeur” by Russell Peck.

Diverse and complex in tone and volume, “The Glory and the Grandeur” closed out the impressive performance in style.