Sunday, October 5, 2003
When John Lynch took the helm as Kansas University's director of bands last year, he charted a five-year plan.
The way things are going, he may have to set loftier goals to fill out the half-decade.
- Saturday, October 11, 2003, 7:30 p.m.
- Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive, KU campus, Lawrence
- All ages / $5 - $7
The KU Wind Ensemble, which Lynch moved out front as the school's premier concert band, has been invited to perform at two prestigious conventions: the Kansas Music Educators Assn. State Convention in February in Wichita and the Music Educators National Conference in April in Minneapolis.
Adjudicators for the national conference chose the KU ensemble from among hundreds of audition tapes sent in from across the country. Lynch can only guess what set his group apart:
"Things that I think are strengths of our students in our Wind Ensemble are our musicality, the passion with which we play and the clarity and transparency of the textures," he says. "I feel that we are ahead of where we were last year at this time. I think that's partially due to the ongoing commitment to growth from our students.
"I've been really impressed with the enthusiasm and work ethic in the ensemble this year."
Langston Hemenway, a graduate conducting student who assists with the ensemble, says the musicians were "ecstatic" about the invitation.
"We're really excited about it," he says. "It's an honor. It's really a privilege for us to be able to do that."
Lawrence audiences who didn't catch the ensemble at the Collage Concert in September can get their first taste Saturday, when the ensemble plays their season-opening concert at the Lied Center.
Building an audience
As the season progresses, the ensemble will prepare for its February and April conference performances. At the state convention, the ensemble will perform twice, once with the KU Symphonic Choir and once alone. The collaborative performance will be of Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana." The second concert -- the Friday night feature concert Feb. 27, which is the most prestigious slot at the convention, Lynch says -- will feature the Wind Ensemble alone, playing a longer program.
A preview concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Lied Center.
Some of the pieces for the Friday night state convention performance may come from the ensemble's first concert. The program of "Songs and Dances" opens with "Pegasus" by John Gibson, a fast-paced virtuosic piece, followed by Ingolf Dahl's "Sinfonietta," a selection considered to be one of the great masterworks of band repertoire that features several soloists and many interesting colors and textures in the music. The first half of the concert concludes with "An American Salute" by Morton Gould, a classic band work based on "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," to be conducted by Sharon Leopold, a graduate student in wind conducting.
After a brief intermission, the program continues with "Serenade in Eb Major" by W.A. Mozart, a lyrical piece that will feature eight Wind Ensemble players. Next is "Minstrels of the Kells" by Dan Welcher, a new piece commissioned by the Big 12 Band Directors Assn. The two-movement work is based on Irish folk tunes, jigs and reels. The concert concludes with the rousing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" in a new setting by Joseph Zaninnelli.
"The Oct. 11 concert is going to very appealing to our audience," Lynch says. "One of my major goals for this year is to build an audience that will support us and come to our concerts throughout the year. So for our opening concert we picked a program that's very tuneful, very enjoyable to listen to."
Movin' on up
On a more comprehensive front, Lynch says he's thrilled with the direction the band program is headed. New initiatives, such as a high school honor band festival and the Adopt-a-Band fund-raiser -- which Lynch says has raised $30,000 in less than six months -- are taking off. The commissioning project Lynch spearheaded when he arrived has scheduled composers through 2005; KU and the University of Missouri-Kansas City have teamed up for a conductor symposium in February; and next year, the wind ensemble will begin a CD recording project.
Lynch is turning the group's Minnesota trip next spring into a recruiting tour. The ensemble will perform in the Des Moines, Iowa, and Minneapolis areas.
"I'm still dreaming about that international tour," he adds.
"My overall goal is I'm trying to put our program on the cutting edge. I want this to be the most happening place in the country for band and for conducting. We have this tremendous reputation that has given us a strong foundation. I want to build on that."