A New way to Rock the House
By Philip Ryan Wilkinson
7:00 P.M., Wednesday, May 4, 2016; the air stirred as the doors to the concert hall were thrown open by a welcoming elderly usher and the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music began its last performance of the Lamont Wind Ensembles. This ensemble was performed by the students and staff of the Lamont School and conducted by Dr. Joseph Martin.
People started to filter into the auditorium about thirty minutes before the show was scheduled to start. While the audience filled in, some performers were still warming up; their tunes conflicting and overpowering one another’s. This went on until a few minutes later the auditorium went dead quiet.
Then Dr. Martin introduced the theme for this performance which he said was, “to introduce American audiences to contemporary European ensembles”. The songs featured in this performance were created from 1892 to 2005. However, the main attraction was Suite Française by Darius Milhaud which is a five-part feature.
The audience settled in for the performance as the lights dimmed and the first song, Bells across the Atlantic by Adam Gorb started with a calm and classical intro. This calm is broken off harshly in the second tempo which speeds the song up to a tsunami of sound.
However, before one can readjust to this new tempo the song changes back to its collected start. This song relies heavily on the flutes, trumpets, and tubas to create a duality. The flutes controlled the peaceful dips in the performance while the tubas were responsible for energizing the performance. Meanwhile, the trumpets were used to backup both sides of the ensemble and would be carried by the ebb and flow of the performance.
With little time for the audience to pause, Dr. Martin jumped into the first of two five-part suites, Suite Française. This collection is meant to be an auditory retelling of the fighting during World War II that took place in France; from the first piece Normandie through Bertagne, Ile de France, Alsace-Lorraine and Provence the tone of the music becomes more and more hopeful.
An exception to this pattern is the second Op. Bretagne which has a melancholic and sad rhythm. This emulates the despair that allied soldiers felt after the invasion of Normandy over their fresh wounds and uncountable battles ahead.
When Suite Française ended the audience was silent for just a moment before erupting in applause. It felt as though all of the built up energy in the crowd was uncaged at once and the audience could not stop themselves from giving a joyous applause. They quickly rained themselves in however because Dr. Martin was already preparing his next piece so everyone in the audience quickly quieted down.
I will take a hint from the audience and refrain from spoiling the entire performance. It’s safe to say though that the ensemble’s finish follows the entire performance’s repeating cycle of calm and chaos and back again. The final ensemble Aegean Festival Overture gives the performance a powerful conclusion that will leave audiences glued to their seats trying to hold onto the last notes.