An unforgettable evening of melody & harmony: Highlights from Rowan’s Wind Ensemble Spring concert

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"A professional quartet, as well as Gala Flagello herself, have been teaching Rowan’s wind ensemble master classes all week, and the quartet performed alongside them for the next piece." - Staff Writer / Beth Cimaglia.

Rowan’s wind ensemble performed its spring concert in Pfleeger on Thursday evening.

Conducted by the director of bands Dr. Joseph Higgins, the ensemble took us through a medley of symphonic sounds broken up by an intermission. All semester, the ensemble had been under the teaching of Bruce Yurko, who took over for Dr. Higgins while he was on sabbatical. Due to a medical emergency, Bruce Yurko handed the ensemble back over to Dr. Higgins while he did well with his recovery at home.

“It’s been amazing for me to step back in as a guest conductor of my ensemble, and to hear them having been prepared by such an amazing teacher and musician… I don’t know what kind of Wheaties he’s been feeding to the horns, but they sound great,” said Dr. Higgins. The night kicked off with a rendition of “Canzona” by Peter Mennin. Composed in 1951, the piece delivered late renaissance sounds to Pfleeger’s enthusiastic audience. What an opening it was, too. The audience erupted in applause after the ensemble finished with a bang.

“The Bird-While” by Gala Flagello, is composed of a variety of symphonic wind instruments and involves three parts. A professional quartet, as well as Gala Flagello herself, have been teaching Rowan’s wind ensemble master classes all week, and the quartet performed alongside them for this piece.

“I got to work extensively with the students this past week, and it was an absolute joy,” said Flagello. “This piece is about not only the environment but the specific things we see around us every day. Things like birds, trees, those really specific things about our hometown environment that we might take for granted,” said Flagello.

Each part was also based on a poem by Keith Taylor.

The first part was a wonderful prelude for the other two, all three parts exceeded expectations. The second part sounded almost fairy-like with the higher-pitched notes of the marimba playing in the background. The third part, starting with trumpets, gave way to a powerful final part. It was as if the words of the poem lifted off the pages and spread across the entire music hall. A poem, felt in your heart, could now be felt in your chest, brought to life with trumpets and clarinets. 

After the intermission, “Children’s March ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’” by Percy Aldridge Grainer brought Pfleeger back to life. It was just as it sounds, a lively march. Then, the ensemble performed “Blue Shades” by Frank Ticheli, a three-part, eleven-minute jazz-inspired piece that truly lit up the music hall. It was the kind of performance you didn’t want to ever end. 

The night concluded with a fiesta. Specifically, “La Fiesta Mexicana” by H. Owen Reed brought a different composition to the evening. It brought a more solemn tone with bell music in “Mass,” and brightened Pfleeger with “Carnival.” Pfleeger Music Hall was the place to be Thursday, April 18. The wind ensemble attracted quite a group of people. 

If you lost your sense of direction and did not know what school you were attending, you may have thought you were attending an Ivy League concert. If you closed your eyes for a moment, you could picture yourself in a giant cathedral somewhere in England. Rowan’s wind ensemble was polished, and professional, and gave a wonderful performance to end the academic year. The ensemble was not the only event happening nearby, however. In Boyd Recital Hall, there was a Taylor Swift celebration event happening.

“There’s a Taylor Swift cabaret happening down the hall, I’m sure it was a tough choice. I hear there’s an album coming out at midnight, so there’s excitement left,” said Dr. Joe Higgins.

Higgins also thanked the Dean and the Provost’s office for supporting music students by bringing professionals in-house to teach them.

“It’s not easy to make these amazing collaborations and experiences happen for our students, but it keeps happening here, and I’m very, very grateful for that,” said Dr. Higgins.

For comments/questions about this story DM us on Instagram @thewhitatrowan or email the.whit.arts@gmail.com 

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