February 17, 2003
Windworks concert features explosive exploration of war
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. When a 20th century composer such as Daniel Bukvich tackles the subject of war, he portrays firepower through thundering drums, clashing gongs and voices that crescendo.
In a world preoccupied by thoughts of war, Bukvich's "Symphony No. 1 In Memoriam Dresden 1945" has an eerie timeliness. The symphony will be performed by the Varsity Band at Purdue University Bands' Windworks concert on Saturday, Feb. 22.
The performance is set for 8 p.m. at the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St., Lafayette. Admission is free. The concert also will feature the University Concert and Collegiate bands.
To underscore the intense feeling Bukvich wants musicians to project in the symphony's final "Fire-Storm" movement, the composer left one section of the musicians' score void of notes. Instead, he supplied zigzags, dramatic crescendo markings, lots of looping, swirling lines and a picture of Dresden going up in flames during World War II.
Pamela J. Nave, director of Varsity Band and a fan of Bukvich's works, says the composer demands that musicians react emotionally to his pieces. She says that when musicians become totally immersed in the piece, it creates a magnetism that can't help but involve the audience.
"He breaks out of the box of concert music," Nave says. "He goes beyond horns in your face playing melody. You couldn't do 'Fire-Storm' on horns."
To create the explosive mood needed for "Fire-Storm," Bukvich has musicians separate their mouthpieces from their instruments and blow through the mouthpieces. He instructs flutes in sobbing techniques, adds extra percussion and a chorus of voices chanting German words that begin as whispers and elevate to screams.
Two years ago, Varsity Band did another Bukvich piece called "Dinosaurs," which also employed unusual techniques and sounds to paint vivid pictures of the prehistoric creatures. With his explosive "Symphony No. 1," Bukvich's subject is the horror of war.
"His music makes a lot of sense, but a lot of conductors don't like to do it because you have to go all the way with it or it sounds weak," Nave says.
Nave says that when the music crescendos and the composer calls for screams, the screams have to be strong. Yet, Nave says that getting instrumental musicians to let loose vocally isn't the biggest challenge.
"It's hard to do the crescendo correctly. The peak is not the problem, it's getting to it," she says.
"Tackling composers like Bukvich can be scary because you don't know if the kids are going to get into it. They look at a piece of music with squiggles and drawings of a town on fire and say 'What is it?' and 'What do we do?'"
But Nave has found that Purdue musicians respond well to Bukvich's unusual demands.
"It puts them on their toes," Nave says. "It's exciting because it's new and different. And when you get the kids excited, then it projects (to the audience) very well."
Although Bukvich's "Symphony" provides immediacy to Purdue Bands' "Windworks" concert, the program contains a wide variety of musical moods from Sousa marches to English dances, as well as a special "Salute to Richard Rodgers."
In collaboration with Oscar Hammerstein, composer Rodgers wrote some of the most popular Broadway theater music of all time. Collegiate Band, under the direction or William D. Kisinger, will perform Rodgers' Broadway medley. The band also will perform Robert Sheldon's "Southwest Saga," John Philip Sousa's "Sabre and Spurs March" and Gustav Holst's "First Suite in E Flat."
The University Concert Band, under the direction of David A. Leppla, will perform Franz Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody," Malcolm Arnold's "English Dances" and Percy Grainger's "Colonial Song."
Purdue Bands' three concert bands will next appear as part of the Purdue Bands Showcase in April. They will perform at an 8 p.m. concert on Saturday, April 26, at the Long Center. Admission is free.
CONTACT: Kathy Matter, (765) 496-6785, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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