IU Wind Ensemble to perform at national college wind band convention

The Indiana University Wind Ensemble will perform at the College Band Directors National Association national conference in Nashville, Tenn., this Thursday evening, March 26. The performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the home of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

Stephen Pratt

Stephen Pratt

The IU Wind Ensemble is conducted by Stephen Pratt, Jacobs School of Music professor, and will feature Jacobs professor Jeff Nelsen as guest soloist performing The Glass Bead Game by James Beckel.

Nelsen is best known as the hornist of the Canadian Brass, with which he toured and recorded for eight years. As professor of horn at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Nelsen teaches horn and chamber music. As a horn soloist, he has performed concerti with orchestra and given recitals on five continents. He has performed with dozens of orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Houston and National symphonies, Philadelphia and Minnesota orchestras, and the Canadian and New York City Opera companies. He has held full-time positions in the Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg symphony orchestras.

The IU Wind Ensemble was selected, along with several other groups from across the nation, to perform at the national convention after a rigorous screening by a distinguished panel of musicians.

The concert will include music by two members of the Jacobs School composition faculty: Ra! by David Dzubay to open the concert and Jug Blues and Fat Pickin’ by Don Freund to bring the concert to a virtuosic conclusion. A brand new work by internationally known conductor and composer André Previn, Music for Wind Orchestra – No Strings Attached, will also be featured. The ensemble will also present the second performance of Rite of Passage arranged by Cliff Colnot. Colnot is a frequent guest conductor at the Jacobs School of Music and arranged the work for a performance by members of his Chicago Civic Orchestra, which premiered the work.

The IU Wind Ensemble holds a distinguished reputation for musical leadership in the wind band field. Recognized as one of the finest collegiate wind ensembles in the world, the ensemble is composed of some of the most advanced music majors from all areas of the Jacobs School of Music. The group performs a wide variety of the finest wind literature, including classics of the repertoire, chamber music for winds and contemporary works.

The ensemble has performed previously at all of the most important wind band national venues, including, in the last seven years, conventions held by the College Band Directors National Association, American Bandmasters Association and Music Educators National Conference.

Pratt teaches graduate wind conducting courses and is the chair of the Department of Bands/Wind Conducting at the Jacobs School. In demand as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator of wind bands and orchestras across the country, he is recipient of the Distinguished Service to Music medal awarded by Kappa Kappa Psi, the national collegiate band honorary organization. He has also been honored with the Outstanding Bandmaster award, Gamma chapter (Indiana) of Phi Beta Mu (1998), the Outstanding University Music Educator award, Indiana Music Educators Association (2001) and the Calvert Outstanding Music Educator Award (2014).

Pratt is a past president of the College Band Directors National Association North Central Division and past president of the Indiana Bandmasters Association. He is an elected member of the American Bandmasters Association as well as a former member of the executive board of the National Band Association and has been a member of the Jacobs School of Music faculty since 1984.

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Level of performance is rewardingly high

By Peter Jacobi


The compositions chosen, five in number, were fewer and, for the most part, longer than usual on Tuesday evening when the Indiana University Wind Ensemble gathered on stage of the Musical Arts Center for its initial program of the winter season.  But, as usual for all of the university’s concert bands, the emphasis was on repertory little known and challenging.

Also as usual, and definitely to the good, conductor Stephen Pratt was in charge for all but one of the pieces, meaning that the level of performance was rewardingly high. Let it be said that the other item, a lively salute to American musical comedies by Adam Gorb titled “Awayday,” was nicely served, too, thanks to the nimble and purposeful conducting of master’s candidate Trae Blanco.

Tuesday’s program opened with a stimulating celebration of the tango, “Vientos y Tangos” (“Winds and Tangos”) by Michael Gandolfi.  The work is marked by a succession of rhythms arrayed against counter rhythms, a not-easy task to make happen smoothly in performance.  But with Maestro Pratt wielding the baton, the reading moved ever so smoothly from quiet, reflective start to dynamic development and back to calm, as if the dancers, after the excitement of the dance, needed to catch their collective breath and enjoy their tango memories.

The most extensive work on the program, a full-scale concerto, followed, this being Kevin Walczyk’s “Talking Winds” — Concerto for Trombone and Wind Ensemble.  Walczyk teaches music at Western Oregon University and has been honored for both his teaching and composition.  “Talking Winds,” he says, was inspired by the Navajo code talkers of World War II and the war correspondence of Ernie Pyle. Written for Tuesday’s trombone soloist, the immensely gifted Jacobs School faculty member Peter Ellefson, the concerto, according to the composer, was designed to “transform the written word into music pitches that make up the work’s complete melodic and harmonic language.”

What one heard was music adroitly orchestrated and certainly well played by both Ellefson and the Wind Ensemble. The technically demanding solo line might, indeed, have paid homage to the code talkers, as the composer claims in discussing “prose transformation” that “utilizes both word-for-word and acrostic ciphering methods,” but this listener longed for music more in the spirit of the eloquent Ernie Pyle words Walczyk said moved him. Among them are words about the Midwest, about “the summer wind … one of the most melancholy things” that “comes from so far away and blows so gently and yet so relentlessly; it rustles the leaves and the branches of the maple trees in a symphony of sadness.”  There’s music in those words.

A sumptuous “Elegy for Albinoni,” written by Shelley Hanson as homage to the Baroque composer Tomaso Albinoni, gave the ensemble a chance to sound lush and radiant.  The program ended with “Duende,” by the contemporary Spanish composer Luis Serrano Alarcon, an exciting foray into musical traditions of his native land, to which Pratt and the Wind Ensemble gave both nuance and vibrancy.


© Herald Times 2014

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Update from Thomas Robertello

Thomas Robertello recently returned from a European tour as guest principal flutist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra led by Riccardo Muti presented six concerts in Luxembourg, Germany, and the Canary Islands. Robertello will appear as guest principal flute with the CSO for more concerts this season.



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Student Update: Jessica Stewart, flutist wins first prize in Alexander & Buono Competition

Jessica Stewart has been chosen as a first prize winner in the Alexander & Buono Competition for flute in New York. She will perform  in the winners’ recital Sunday, October 20 in Carnegie Recital Hall. Ms Stewart is a junior and student of Thomas Robertello.

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Student Update: Pei-San Chiu wins Principal Flute of the Lexington Philharmonic

Pei-San Chiu has won the Principal Flute position with the Lexington Philharmonic. She is a third-year DM student of Thomas Robertello.

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Music Review: IU Wind Ensemble

Musicians excel in season opener

By Peter Jacobi

Conductor Stephen Pratt frequently chooses the far more intimate Auer Hall for Indiana University Wind Ensemble concerts rather than the spacious Musical Arts Center, and he did so once again on Tuesday evening for the band’s season opener.

All that brass and percussion means the listener, particularly during climaxes, can be overwhelmed by sound. Fortunately, the sounds produced by the Wind Ensemble, even in dissonance, tended to fall comfortably on the ear, well-tuned and resonant that they were.

Maestro Pratt had selected an absorbing repertoire for his musicians, much of it 21st century music. It included two items by contemporary Japanese composers, that way inaugurating a Jacobs School-centered Japan Festival which features, throughout the month of October, an array of works currently being written in that country.

Their subject matter is unusual: Masanori Taruya’s work is called “The Archangel Raphael Who Leaves a House of Tobias,” and Satoshi Yagisawa’s Fanfare celebrates Hayabusa, an asteroid probe that traveled billions of miles before returning to Earth in 2010. The scores, though, are not unusual. They don’t exhibit regional qualities but sound as if they could have been written anywhere. Both, however, are beautifully crafted, with lush orchestration and thematic content satisfying to hear. Pratt and company treated them ardently and resoundingly.

Tuesday’s concert opened with Kyle Kindred’s “Variations on a Tango,” a 2012 sendup of that blazing dance with clever use of instruments, flutes and tubas, for instance, establishing the rhythm. The piece outlasts its inventiveness, turning from amiable to pretentious before the end. Nevertheless, Kindred owns what must be a facile imagination, one that can fashion music intriguing enough to draw in a listener.

Tuba virtuoso Daniel Perantoni joined the band for a performance of Dana Wilson’s 2012 Concerto for Tuba and Wind Ensemble, definitely a showcase for the soloist; Perantoni made the most of it. Master’s candidate Christopher Dortwegt effectively led a chamber-sized reduction of the Wind Ensemble in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ lively, bouncy Scherzo all Marcia. Doctoral candidate Brett Richardson used a fuller compliment of players for an equally bouncy and happy “Mock Morris” by Percy Grainger; conductor and ensemble made the music dance.

Boss Pratt was back on the podium for Donald Hunsberger’s sumptuous arrangement of Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor. The performance was stunningly dramatic and masterfully wrought, thanks to a conductor taken by the music’s power and able to project his feelings for it to a responsive ensemble of musicians excelling at the task.

© Herald Times 2013


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Barkada Quartet perform at the 2013 Emilia Romagna Festival in Italy

Barkada_BW1The Barkada Quartet, 2012 Fischoff Competition Grand Prize Winner, performed across Italy at the 2013 Emilia Romagna Festival this past summer. As the representative of the Fischoff Grand Prize Winner’s Tour, the quartet performed and shared their story with standing room only crowds.

The Barkada Quartet formed as a student chamber ensemble at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in 2011, where they all studied under Otis Murphy. The group is comprised of Christopher Elchico (soprano sax), Marti Comas (alto sax), Steven Lawhorn (tenor sax), and Justin Polyblank (baritone sax).

Read more here: http://www.fischoff.org/news/barkada-quartet-in-italy/

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Flutist Molly Barth to give Career-Building presentation Sept. 3

BarthMolly Barth, assistant professor of flute at the University of Oregon, will present a career-building lecture on Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 8:30pm in Ford-Crawford Hall for all interested students and the general public.

Described as “ferociously talented” (The Oregonian), Grammy-Award winning flutist Molly Alicia Barth is an active solo, chamber, and orchestral musician, specializing in the music of today.

In demand as a soloist, she has recently performed in Australia, Korea, and Mexico, and has played solo recitals and led clinics at the Jacobs School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Cincinnati Conservatory, and Northwestern University.

As co-founder of the Beta Collide New Music Project, Barth has collaborated with individuals from a broad spectrum of disciplines, such as dance, art, sound sculpture, and theoretical physics.

As a founding member of the new music sextet eighth blackbird, she toured extensively and was granted the 2000 Naumburg Chamber Music Award and first prize at the 1998 Concert Artists Guild International Competition.

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Linda Strommen’s recent activities include performances, publications, and more.

strommen-250Professor of Music Linda Strommen’s recent activities include major performances, recordings, teaching at Interlochen and publishing.

In February, the Ewazen Second Concerto, “Hold Fast Your Dreams”, as commissioned and premiered by Strommen with the Jacobs School Wind Ensemble, was published by Theodore Presser Music. It is now available in the Oboe/Piano version as a concert piece or by rental for the Oboe/Wind Ensemble version.

In June, she led the Interlochen Oboe Institute for talented high school oboists, an intensive week of master classes, lessons and activities. The institute included 28 advanced students. She was joined by Daniel Stolper and Jaren Philleo.

Following the Institute, she taught at the Interlochen Arts Camp, joining colleagues Daniel Stolper and Robert Krause, as part of the oboe faculty.
Along with the teaching, she was featured as a soloist with the Interlochen World Youth Wind Symphony, playing the Ewazen Concerto “Hold Fast Your Dreams”.

Additionally this spring and summer, held residencies, taught master classes and lessons at New England Conservatory, Interlochen Arts Academy, the Juilliard School and MasterWorks Festival.

In August, she recorded with Diane Bish, organist, for the Joy of Music at Saint Meinrad Monastery.

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Kenari Quartet wins Silver Medal at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition

Kenari-newCongratulations to the Kenari Quartet (Robert Eason, soprano saxophone: Durand Jones, alto saxophone; Corey Dundee, tenor saxophone; and Steven Banks, baritone saxophone), who have won the Silver Medal in the Senior Wind Division at the 2013 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

The quartet performed in the final round of the competition on Sunday, May 12, alongside the Wasmuth String Quartet, also Silver Medal winners (of the Senior String Division).

For more information on the Fischoff Competition, click here >

Bob Eason is currently pursuing a master’s degree in saxophone performance and studies with Otis Murphy at Indiana University. Recently, Eason was awarded the Gold Medal at the 2013 Young Texas Artist Competition. He has performed with the Jacobs School of Music Wind Ensemble under the direction of Stephen Pratt, and he is the Soprano Saxophonist of the Kenari Saxophone Quartet. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from The University of Houston and studied with Dan Gelok, Valerie Vidal, and Karen Wylie. While at the University of Houston, eason was a founding member of the Blue Static Saxophone Quartet and performed with the ensemble at the 2011 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition where the group won the Silver Medal in the Senior Winds division. In addition to the teachers mentioned above, Eason feels incredibly fortunate to have been mentored by Eddie Green, John Benzer, David Bertman, Noe Marmolejo, Tom Bennett, Gregory Dick, Robert Munoz, Theron Sharp, Julio Sanchez, Aaron Brown, Martin Langford, and Chris Patterson.

Durand Jones is a master’s student at Indiana University under tutelage of Otis Murphy. He received his Bachelor of Music Education at Southeastern Louisiana University. Other saxophonists that Durand has studied with include Richard Schwartz, Brina Bourliea, and Craig Millet. Durand is the alto saxophonist of the Kenari Quartet. While at Indiana University, Jones has had many performance opportunities such as performing in the Symphonic Band under the baton of Gershman, the IU Latin Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Michael Spiro, the IU Soul Revue under the direction of Tyron Cooper and Charles Sykes, and the IU Saxophone Ensemble. Outside of IU, Jones has had the opportunity to also perform in Carnegie Hall, the International Saxophone Symposium in 2011 and 2012, the North American Saxophone Alliance region 5 Conference, and as a featured artist for the Southeastern Guitar Festival for two consecutive years. Jones has also performed in masterclasses for famous saxophonist such as, Timothy McAllister, Dale Underwood, Griff Campbell, H2 Quartet, Iridium Quartet, Jonathan Helton, and Otis Murphy. He is affiliated with North American Saxophone Alliance, Kappa Kappa Psi, and the National Association for Music Education.

Corey Dundee is a senior at Indiana University, where he is currently studying saxophone performance with Otis Murphy and composition with Claude Baker. He is a recipient of the Jacobs Scholarship, a full-tuition merit award given to a select number of undergraduate students. Dundee has performed as a guest soloist with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, the UNC School of the Arts Symphony Orchestra and the Interlochen Philharmonic. As a composer, he has received recognitions from ASCAP and the Tribeca New Music ensemble, and has collaborated with the Barkada saxophone quartet and the Akropolis reed quintet in writing new pieces for chamber winds.

Steven Banks is a sophomore in the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music under the instruction of Otis Murphy. He is a recipient of the Jacobs Scholarship, one of the most prestigious awards given in the School of Music. Banks regularly performs as both a soloist and an ensemble player with the Kenari Saxophone Quartet and Indiana University Symphonic Band. Since his solo debut at age 17 with the Durham Symphony Orchestra, Steven has performed and competed nationwide. Banks has won top prizes in several competitions, including 1st prizes at the 2011 Joseph M. Bryan Concerto Competition and the Durham Symphony Young Artist Competition. Steven was also chosen to perform on NPR’s From the Top on show 241 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. Most recently, Steven won the Indiana University Woodwind Concerto competition and performed Paul Creston’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra on April 10, 2013. Steven is an alumnus of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he studied with Taimur Sullivan, baritone saxophonist of the renowned Prism Saxophone Quartet. He attended the Interlochen Arts Camp under the tutelage of Timothy McAllister. Steven has participated in master classes with Christopher Creviston, Joe Lulloff, the ZZYZX saxophone quartet and the United States Marine Band saxophone quartet.

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