Frost Symphonic Winds remix staple wind band compositions

Frost Symphonic Winds performs at Gusman Hall.

Gusman Hall has seen countless Frost School of Music concerts and performances, but Frost Symphonic Winds’ “Inspirations” was perhaps the most distinct.

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Frost Symphonic Winds performs at Gusman Hall.

Transcending time and space, “Inspirations” aimed to create an unconventional sensory experience for the audience and musicians alike – incorporating lines and melodies across thousands of years and filtering it through the current outlook on classics.

Frost Symphonic Winds is comprised of students in the Frost school and offers a wide range of musical styles. This concert was their first of the season and the first of the “Inspirations” series, showcasing talented Frost student musicians, music majors and non-music majors alike.

As the lights dimmed and the audience grew quiet, professor and conductor J. Steven Moore stepped onto the podium and gave the downbeat for Michael Markowski’s “joyRiDE,” appropriately named for its adventurous and upbeat blend of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and John Adam’s quirky and quick “Short Ride on a Fast Machine.”

“‘Inspirations’ was in essence a representation of what the UM community stands for: engaging in activities that transform our lives,” Moore said.

In between bouts of big, bold statements and familiar, inspired melodies, one oboe soloist stood out. Ariana Varvaro, a freshman majoring in music instrumental performance, created chillingly clear renditions of Holst’s and Chance’s oboe solos.

“[The solos] went well,” said Varvaro, a newcomer to Frost. “I felt good about them.”

Varvaro’s challenging solos resonated with many, as she had hoped they would.

Audience member Shari Drumond, who participated in the Winds’ standing ovation, commended the program for its variety.

“They had a great selection,” Drumond said. “This is definitely not my first concert, and it won’t be my last.”

Hearty applause filled the concert hall as musicians triumphantly shuffled their sheet music from Holst to Steven Bryant’s 2007 “Suite Dreams” and Ira Hearshen’s “Symphony on Themes of John Philip Sousa.”

Both Bryant and Hearshen sought to remix timeless wind band classics while paying homage to the original works of Holst and Sousa.

Guest director Chee Weng Yim stepped in to lead the talented group in closing off the concert with Ron Nelson’s tribute to the Middle Ages, “Medieval Suite,” and John Barnes Chance’s fluid “Variations on a Korean Folk Song.”

“Medieval Suite,” which drew from composers from the Middle Ages and Perotin’s dissonant and fanfare-like style, proved to be a refreshing addition to UM’s Frost School of Music repertoire. Chance’s motivation behind composing “Variations” can be traced back to his time serving in the U.S. Army in Korea – transformative event which he hallmarked with a composition.

The Winds carried the sound with utmost respect and vibrancy, ending the night and their first concert exciting the audience for what is to come this semester.

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