The CSUN Wind Ensemble dazzled the audience at the Performing Arts Center on campus on Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. with “Everybody’s All-American,” the theme of the performance.
Rows of chairs and stands filled the stage along with drums and large wind chime-like instruments that were magnificent looking.
The ensemble that consisted of clarinets, horns, and percussion began the evening with the “Carousel” waltz, written by Richard Rodgers, of the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein, who created classic musicals such as “Carousel,” “Oklahoma” and “West- Side Story” to name a few. The performance of the waltz was remarkable and it completely captivated the audience.
After the opening piece, Lawrence Stoffel, the conductor of the Wind Ensemble and CSUN music teacher welcomed the audience on behalf of himself and the members of the ensemble. He thanked everyone for attending and promised an exciting night.
Next up was Symphony for Band, Op.6, by Vincent Persichetti. At first, if one does not understand what is going on it might be confusing because this particular piece had four components so some audience members were lost on when to clap, along with the piece. However, it did not matter because the piece itself was compelling and the audience could not help but let the music and the ensemble captivate them.
All dressed in black, the members definitely showed their true talent. They are among the few distinguished collegiate wind ensembles and they seem to show a very promising future. The CSUN concert band program at the university is highly recognized in the state.
The best arrangement of the evening was when they played the “Catch Me If You Can” suite by John Williams that had three components; “Catch Me If You Can,” “Recollections” (Father’s Theme) and The “Float.” The movie was great, so it was nice to hear some of the music from it.
The highlight of this piece was Douglas Masek, a professor of saxophone at UCLA and CSUN, played with the ensemble. He was absolutely extraordinary. The way he played the music was so effortless and it seemed to come so naturally, like he was not doing any work at all and the music was just coming forth. In the first component of the piece, Masek opened with a solo and then the rest of the ensemble trickled in with the instruments with the occasional snap or two when needed. This was my favorite portion of the piece.
There was a small break and then the evening continued with a piece composed by William Schuman entitled George Washington Bridge, “An Impression for Band.”
Though this piece was powerful and had different instruments used than the previous sets like the symbols and xylophone it did not appeal to me as much as the first couple of sets. It sounded like a battle song for some reason and maybe that is what it was.
Two more sets followed: a folk suite by William Grant Still and a “Lincoln Portrait” by Aaron Copeland. The ensemble played beautifully; however, the second half of he evening was not as pleasing as was the first part. The ensemble still performed very well, but the music selection did not pulled me in as much as the music from the first portion did.
Overall, the evening was enjoyable and the audience seemed to really like the music and the ensemble itself seemed to have fun performing for the audience as well as for themselves.
Candice Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.