Sunday, April 21

Bands join to perform musical medley


Bands join to perform musical medley

Dallas brass, UCLA Wind Ensemble play Schoenberg tonight

By Cheryl Klein

Daily Bruin Contributor

A musical premiere has cosmic significance.

At least this is what Thomas Lee, conductor of the UCLA Wind
Ensemble, professes.

"It’s like watching the birth of a new star," he says. "There’s
lots of stars that have been created, but when you get to see one
happen, it’s really special."

"Three Songs for Band," composed by Mark Carlson, will make its
world-wide debut at Schoenberg Hall tonight, and Steven Stucky’s
"Fanfares and Arias" will have its West Coast premiere. These and
other pieces will be performed when the UCLA Wind Ensemble teams up
with the Dallas brass for an evening of musical styles that range
from renaissance to ragtime, and from European to American.

"Fanfares and Arias" is a complicated modern piece that demands
notice by way of its unfamiliar sound.

"Not everybody will walk out humming it," warns Lee.

Yet he has no doubt that the music will grow on people. "When
they become more aware of Stucky’s significance in the world, they
will remember that we did it here, and I think that’s a great
achievement for our students."

Lee is especially proud of Tony Spano, Jr., a student of his and
the concert’s guest conductor. "(Spano) is one of the few I’ve had
who’s capable of doing a piece of this complexity."

Spano agrees that, "A lot of college bands won’t be able to play
this piece."

Carlson’s "Three Songs for Band," however, is a simpler
arrangement that combines various elements of music from the
past.

The first half of the concert features the Wind Ensemble’s
rendition of the two new songs as well as more widely-known pieces.
Then the students will play a short song with the Dallas Brass,
after which the Dallas Brass will perform on their own.

The six-member brass ensemble has come to be known for its
unconventional presentation of classical music. The group
incorporates colored lights, choreography, commentary and humor
into its concerts.

This came about because founder Michael Levine observed a lack
of audience connection in the traditional format.

"When you think about a recital," he says, "you turn on all the
lights and everybody sits there…they stare at the music stand.
There’s no element of theater at all. Zero. So we tried to break
away from that.

"It’s very simple," Levine continues. "It’s like spice. You add
a little bit of spice, you can get a whole different flavor."

The Wind Ensemble is a mix of many flavors. Students from
different cultural and academic backgrounds combine to form a
harmonious whole, united by their status as musicians.

"It’s a very close-knit group," says Spano. "It’s not like where
you just see these people in the class and you never see them
again."

Both the Wind Ensemble’s graduate and undergraduate students
recognize the importance of aiding and inspiring other music
students, at a level as young as junior high. With this in mind,
they sponsor an annual essay contest in which the winner receives
lessons and the chance to conduct the ensemble.

Spano sees this as a way of combating recent cuts in funding for
school music programs at both college and elementary levels.

"Of course something like sports they wouldn’t dare touch. And
that’s perfectly right because sports provides different things
that music provides as well. There’s elements of all kinds of math
and science and literature and English … and the teamwork of
working with people to put something together."

Levine is aware of the financial problems that musicians
encounter in both school and the workforce, but remains
undaunted.

"You could spend 10 years without a job," he admits. "That’s the
bad news. The good news is that … if somebody is aggressive, and
is creative, and has lots of drive, they can make things happen. I
mean, I started the Dallas Brass out of nothing."

Back in 1982, Levine and his fellow musicians introduced brass
to Dallas, Texas, a city that in their opinion was fairly naive
regarding music of that genre.

Today, Levine expresses the desire to do the same thing on a
much larger scale. "You play in a symphony orchestra and you’re
playing for a built in audience. But I want to reach the other 99
percent of the population.’

Spano adds, "There’s a lot of colors and textures that haven’t
even been explored."

MUSIC: For more info, call 825-2101.Comments to
[email protected]

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