University Wind Ensemble, conducted by Director Paul
Bambach and Helen Park, with the Mosher Woodwind Quintet (Carla
Sturm, flute; Claire Cutting, oboe; Alice Crone, clarinet; Nate
Harris, bassoon; and Pat Rappleye, French horn). At Lehmann Hall,
Thursday, June 1.
UCSB Percussion Ensemble (Lyuba Kovaleva, Ellen Sue
Chang, Haig Shirinian, Edward Trager, Garret Miller, and Sierra
Drucker), with guest artist Suzanne Duffy, flute; and Humberto
Almeida and Jenny Zheng, pianos; and Nate Harris, contrabassoon. At
Karl Geiringer Hall, Saturday, June 3.
Reviewed by Gerald Carpenter
The UCSB Wind Ensemble’s annual Spring Concert was, as
usual, an extravagant potpourri, with a stage full of eager young
wind players and a program full of delightful and/or fascinating
pieces largely unheard by the average music lover. After opening
with Jack Stamp’s Fanfare for a New Era, they got right to
the main event — the scholarship Mosher Woodwind Quintet and the
Ensemble performing David R. Gillingham’s 1983 Concerto for
Woodwind Quintet and Wind Ensemble. It is a deft,
light-hearted work and would make a popular addition to any wind
ensemble’s repertory. The Mosher played it with skill and insight.
Then followed works by Bartók, Khachaturian, Bach, Milhaud, and
Villa-Lobos. Teaching Assistant Helen Park ably conducted the Bach;
Paul Bambach more than ably conducted the rest.
The UCSB Percussion Ensemble concert was an eye-opener, to say
the least (perhaps I should say ear-opener). Percussionists have
the advantage of aggressive, charismatic instruments that compel
attention, and the only part of the concert where my mind wandered
was a piece by Steve Reich — and even that was largely redeemed by
the remarkable performances of Haig Shirinian on marimba and Ramon
Fermin on guitar synthesizer. Shirinian — polyinstrumental like
most of his colleagues — had several star turns and was impressive
in all of them. Edward Trager was also outstanding, but everyone
who played, including Ensemble Director Jon Nathan — who also
directs the UCSB Jazz Ensemble — was very good.
Percussion composition is a growing edge of contemporary music,
and we were treated to world premieres of sophisticated works by
student composers from the studio of Kurt Rhode: Timothy Beutler,
Robbie Greengold, Christian Villegas, and John Thompson (whose
fascinating Terrains featured a hypnotic interaction
between computer-generated images and the ensemble).
For their performance of two movements of André Jolivet’s
Suite en Concert pour flute et percussion (2nd Concerto for
Flute), the ensemble had the decisive advantage of Suzanne
Duffy’s pure and sensual flute-playing. The Jolivet work is
intensely exotic and moody, and this performance sent at least one
member of the audience out in search of a recording of the whole
thing. The rest of the exciting and satisfying program was made up
of works by Dmitri Shostakovich, Georg Philip Telemann, Claire Omar
Musser, and John Beck.