Windy Wednesday: Washburn Wind Ensemble blows audience away

Fan Xinyu

Following the whirls of a conductor’s baton, the Washburn University Wind Ensemble delivered a wide variety of music pieces and afterward received rounds of applause Wednesday night in White Concert Hall.

However, the ensemble was enveloped by mixed feelings of success and sadness, because the hand that waved the baton and has conducted the band for 22 years will leave Washburn and its band. This was the last concert Kirt Saville conducted before his departure to Utah.

“It’s my senior year in Washburn and this is my last concert with Dr. Saville, so it’s meaningful and sad,” said Jessica Halpin, flautist in the band, while wiping tears away from her face. “He is an inspiring teacher. He always inspires us to perform the best music. He is irreplaceable.”

Because of the special meaning of this concert, Saville paid particular attention while picking the program. For Saville, each music piece has a story behind it.

The two music pieces of a western band, “Aspen Jubilee” and “Zion,” featured Saville’s memory of home. “Aspen Jubilee,” composed by Ron Nelson, provided a passing nod to Aspen in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

“I was born in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains,” said Saville. “I want to go back.”

He also performed “Yi Hai,” a song he brought back from China. It was once performed by the People’s Republic of China’s military band when Saville and the wind ensemble were in China last May.

“It’s a beautiful song and a memory of China for us,” said Saville.

“Toccata” was one of the songs Saville performed when he first came to Washburn, so he said he would like it to be the end of his time in Washburn.

“In Store” was really a huge music project performed that night. All kinds of sounds could be heard amid the performance, such as the tick-tock sound of pocket watches, wrist watches, alarm clocks and even the siren of an ambulance. Saville chose it because it was composed by Kansas native Kyle Kindred and would be the first time that the piece was performed in Kansas. They invited Kindred to the concert, so the audience had the opportunity to hear how the composer came up with this song.

“It was exquisite,” said Ann Marie Snook, soprano soloist in “Aspen Jubilee.” “It was beautifully played and had a great range of pieces.”

Before the performance of the wind ensemble, the University Band also displayed three pieces under the direction of Raquel Rodriquez.