Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Directors: Milwaukee Festival Brass

As you know, Dr. Patricia Backhaus completed her tenure as Music Director of the Milwaukee Festival Brass last June. The MFB now has announced two co-directors for the 2011-2012 season.

Dr. Martin Rowden of Milwaukee will direct the October 23 concert at the Schwan Concert Hall of Wisconsin Lutheran College. He is currently the Music and Arts Director for the Salvation Army's Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Division. He has extensive brass band experience as a cornet player and conductor in the US and in Australia.

Dr. Mark Taylor, from Lake Forest IL, has most recently been Associate Conductor of the University of North Texas Brass, the Director of Bands at Loyola University, as well as a long time percussionist and Board Member of the Chicago Brass Band.

In addition to these two co-directors, the MFB announced it's new Director for the Milwaukee Festival Youth Brass. He is Dr. Walter Rich of Brookfield. Dr. Rich conducts the Sheboygan Area Youth Symphony, the Oconomowoc American Legion Band, and is Principle Tubist with the Sheboygan Symphony.

To learn more of these appointments, or more about the Milwaukee Festival Brass, check out their web site. And more on the MFB October concert next week!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Season Preview: Knightwind Ensemble

I had a chance to ask the Music Director of the Knightwind Ensemble, Dr. Erik Janners, about his plans for the group's upcoming season.  Dr. Janners was kind enough to write a nice preview of the fall and spring concerts for the Ensemble.  Rather than try to interpret his information, I decided to post it directly to you.  Here is the season preview, directly from Dr. Janners.

We are very, very excited to get down to work on the music for the Knightwind Ensemble’s upcoming season! Entering my second year as music director, I feel that I really know the ensemble now, as I gained an understanding of who they are and what they do over the course of my first year. Last year finished with a "BANG!" as well, with our performance of James Barnes’ Third Symphony on our spring concert. It was a fantastic performance of a truly epic work, and one that I will always remember.
This season promises to be an improvement over last year, good as it was, with the group welcoming in several extraordinarily talented new members. Our fall concert (Nov. 20, 2011) theme is “Masterworks for Winds” and will showcase some of the most important music from the band repertoire from throughout its history. We begin with Walter Piston’s Tunbridge Fair, one of the first commissions from the American Bandmasters Association in 1950 when they began to commission prominent orchestral composers to write for the wind band. It is Piston’s only band work, and was a tremendously important composition in the early years of the serious band movement in the US in terms of convincing other composers of the worthiness of writing for band. Next we will perform Maurice Ravel’s Alborada del Gracioso, transcribed for band by Lawrence Odom. This is a real tour-de-force piece for winds, showcasing their technical brilliance and dynamic mastery. Our final piece on the first half is Karel Husa’s amazing Music for Prague 1968, which Husa wrote shortly after crushing of the “Prague Spring” movement in Czechoslovakia in 1968. This work captures all of the emotion and intensity of that time for the Czech people, and is regarded by most experts as one of the 10 most important wind band works of all time. The third movement of the work is for percussion only, and will highlight the skills of that excellent section of the Knightwind Ensemble.

The second half of our fall concert begins with Vincent Persichetti’s most important band work, Divertimento for Band. It was his first band work and dates from 1950, the same year that Tunbridge Fair was composed. The six movement of the Divertimento are like six miniatures – each is a short musical glimpse of a mood, thought or idea. Next is Philip Sparke’s Dance Movements. Commissioned by the US Air Force Band, it was premiered in 1996 and won the Sudler Prize that year as the best new band work of the year. A technical showcase for band, Dance Movements has two outer movements that frame a second movement written only for woodwinds and a third movement written only for brass. It was one of the most important works of the 1990’s and helped to introduce the British Band composers to American audiences. We close our fall concert with Shostakovich’s Folk Dances, a real crowd-pleaser and one of the most often-performed transcribed works in the repertoire. It will be a stunning showcase of a concert for sure!!!

The theme of the Knightwind Ensemble’s spring concert (April 1, 2012) is “Songs and Dances.” The concert opens with Julie Giroux’s wonderful overture To Walk With Wings, which is then followed by a masterful transcription of JS Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, originally for organ. The first half closes with a performance of Martin Ellerby’s Venetian Spells. Written in 1997, each of the four movements of this work pays homage to a great composer associated with the city of Venice, including Vivaldi, Stravinsky, Monteverdi, and Gabrieli.

The second half of the spring concert opens with the major work of this program, Piece of Mind for Wind Ensemble by the composer and pianist Dana Wilson. The work, also in four movements like the Ellerby, showcases the composer’s thoughts about various states of mind through music, with movement titles including Thinking, Feeling, Remembering, and Being. A truly incredible work, infused with jazz elements, eastern scales, and a shocking rhythmic intensity. Following that is Percy Grainger’s classic Colonial Song, and we close the concert with David Holsinger’s Scootin’ on Hardrock, which is subtitled “Three Short Scat-Jazzy Dances.” This is one of the most enjoyable works I know from the standpoint of sheer fun, and really will make you want to get up and dance!

So that is a look at our upcoming season! We hope that you will join us for both concerts. Tickets can be purchased online in advance through the website of the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center.

And you can learn more about the Knightwind Ensemble from their website.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Special Concert: Menomonee Falls Symphony

Some of you may have seen the listing for the Menomonee Falls Symphony concert for October 23rd at 1 PM. The MFSO will be joined by none other than Daryl Stuermer, guitarist for Genesis. His group Genesis Rewired will join the MFSO for a symphonic look at the music of Genesis.

This is a special performance, and is a Thank You to the MFSO. Earlier this summer, the MFSO assisted Mr. Stuermer and Genesis Rewired in finalizing the symphonic arrangements. Now the Band is goining the Orchestra in performing this show here at the Sussex Fine Arts Center. I may be wrong, but I predict that Mr. Stuermer and the band will take this show on tour to play with many of the country's symphony orchestras. And the neat thing about this is that the MFSO had a key role in developing the arrangements.

Be sure to reserve October 23rd to join the Menomonee Falls Symphony and Genesis Rewired for an afternoon of wonderful music, from two very different genres: symphonic and rock!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Community Music Calendar for 2011 - 2012

Here is a list of the concerts for the community bands and orchestras in and around the Milwaukee Area that I found in my search. These concerts are always fun and many are outstanding in their presentation of difficult music. We are truly blessed here in the Milwaukee area, to have so many community groups performing for our enjoyment at an extremely low cost. Be sure to mark your calendar to include as many of these concerts as you can.

There are a couple of groups that have not published their concert dates yet. As soon as I learn those dates, I'll get them listed.

And if you have concert dates that I have missed, please email them to me and I will update the calendar and post the additions. Thanks.


12 - Suburban Concert Band, 7:30 PM, Nathan Hale High School
16 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, 3 PM, Cedarburg PAC
23 - Milwaukee Festival Brass, 3 PM, Wisconsin Lutheran College
23 - Menomonee Falls Symphony featuring Daryl Steurmer, 1 PM, Sussex Hamilton PAC


20 - Knightwind Ensemble, 3 PM, South Milwaukee PAC


11 - Menomonee Falls Symphony, 3 PM, Sussex Hamilton PAC
16 - Suburban Concert Band, 7:30, Nathan Hale High School
16 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, 6PM, Basilica of Holy Hill
18 - Milwaukee Festival Brass, 3 PM, Wisconsin Lutheran College


No concerts


10 and 11: Menomonee Falls Symphony Dinner Concert, 6:30 PM, Silver Spring Country Club


4 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, 3 PM, Cedarburg PAC
25 - Milwaukee Festival Brass, 3 PM, Wisconsin Lutheran College
30 - Suburban Concert Band, 7:30 PM, Nathan Hale High School


3 - Knightwind Ensemble, 3 PM, South Milwaukee PAC


6 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, 3 PM, Cedarburg PAC
11 - Suburban Concert Band, 7:30, Nathan Hale High School
15 - Milwaukee Festival Brass Youth Brass, 7 PM, Mount Mary College
20 - Milwaukee Festival Brass, 3 PM, Wisconsin Lutheran College
28 - Knightwind Ensemble, 1 PM, Wisconsin Memorial Park