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Wind Ensemble adds some string music

May 4, 2019

Daily Journal staff

The River Valley Wind Ensemble will celebrate its 15th season with a spring concert at 7 p.m. Sunday in the auditorium of Bradley Bourbonnais Community High School.

In addition to selections by the Wind Ensemble, the concert will feature the inaugural performance of the River Valley String Ensemble. The two groups will collaborate to take listeners on a musical journey around the world.

The String Ensemble will open the concert with a program that includes classic favorites, as well as contemporary music. The ensemble will perform the “Barber of Seville,” set in Sevilla, Spain, in the 17th century, from the comic opera by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini.

Also on the program is “Bohemian Rhapsody,” written by Freddie Mercury in 1975, and it was originally performed by the British rock band Queen. The motion picture “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Golden Globe for Best Picture of 2019.

The String Ensemble program also includes “Musetta’s Waltz” from Giacomo Puccini’s beloved opera “La Bohème,” and “Symphony No. 5, Finale,” by German composer Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the best-known compositions in classical music.

Completing its performance will be “Rhapsody” on a theme of Gustov Holst, based on English folk tunes, and adapted for string orchestras.

Following the String Ensemble’s opening repertoire, the River Valley Wind Ensemble will take the stage, and open its portion of the program with “Shichi-Go-Sani,” by Japanese composer Itaru Sakai. Released in 2007, this piece reflects the annual Japanese children’s festival, wishing for the wholesome growth of girls aged 7, boys aged 5 and children aged 3.

“Lincolnshire Posy” by Percy Grainger, edited by Frederick Fennell, is based on English folk tunes that Grainger collected in Lincolnshire County, England.

He eventually worked the tunes into six movements: Lisbon, Horkstow Grange, Rufford Park Poachers, The Brisk Young Sailor, Lord Melbourne, and The Lost Lady Found.

Returning to America, the Wind Ensemble will play a piece by the quintessential American composer, John Philip Sousa, called “The Quilting Party March.”

Sousa scholar Jonathan Elkus notes that “The Quilting Party,” unlike most of Sousa’s marches, tells a story. A young man goes to Aunt Dinah’s quilting party to woo Nellie, his lady friend. He dances with her and afterward sees her home.

“Ruckus” by Russell Standridge, delivers a change of pace and mood. This boisterous piece, with an aggressive and mixed meter, heavy percussion and thumping rhythm will be led by guest conductor Amanda Gee.

Also, “Colditz March,” written by Robert Farnon as the theme for the 1970s BBC television drama “Colditz,” tells the story of prisoners held at Colditz Castle in Germany during World War II. The Wind Ensemble will play an arrangement by Philip Sparke.

“Suite Italienne” by Jerry Bilik, is a concert piece in three movements: Tarantella, Canzone d’Amore, and Shadows of the Past.

And finally, “Homage to Bharat” by Brian Balmages brings to life the colorful and exotic sounds of India, along with elements of modern Indian pop, similar to the Bollywood sound.

River Valley Wind Ensemble is a nonprofit corporation founded in 2005 by conductor David Conrad, along with Rod and Sue Williams. The idea came to Williams and Conrad after the two had performed in a jazz band gig in August 2004.

The ensemble opened the first rehearsal with less than 40 local musicians. Since then, the number of players has grown steadily, and as the group has added musicians, the caliber of music has improved as well. Over the years, the Ensemble has become one of the premier music groups in the Kankakee area.

Although the group performs professional-level wind ensemble literature, no one receives a salary, and musicians volunteer to participate. Liberty Middle School in Bourbonnais allows the ensemble to rehearse in their facility at no charge.

All performances are free, and open to the public, however, the organization does accept donations at most concerts. The group also sells advertising in the concert programs to help pay for expenses.

“We pay for the sheet music, insurance, and on occasion we may have to pay a rental fee, but that is the extent of our expenses,” Conrad said.

The River Valley Wind Ensemble is available for performances and promotions. For more information, call 815-370-0263 or visit windensemble.org.