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FSU’s Department of Music Presents Its Wind Ensemble in “Eternal Mysteries”

Frostburg State University’s Department of Music will present its Wind Ensemble, conducted by Peter Lewis, in a concert titled “Eternal Mysteries” on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pealer Recital Hall of FSU’s Woodward D. Pealer Performing Arts Center.

The Wind Ensemble will perform “Xerxes” by John Mackey; the world premiere of “Pan” by Brian McClosky; the four movements, “March,” “Song Without Words, ‘I’ll Love My Love,’” “Song of the Blacksmith” and “Fantasia on the ‘Dargason,’” of “Second Suite in F for Military Band, Op. 28, No. 2” by Gustav Holst; “Mother Earth (A Fanfare)” by David Maslanka; “Wilderness” by Cait Nishimura; “O Magnum Mysterium” by Morten Lauridsen; “Comet Flash” by Brant Karrick; and “Luminescence” by David Biedenbender.

“Xerxes” (2010) takes its name from Xerxes the Great, the King of Persia from 485 to 465 BC. The music is a concert march, but while most marches for concert band are cheerful and patriotic (and usually American or British), Mackey wanted to write an anti-march – an angry, nasty march – that still follows the traditional structure expected from a military march.

“Pan” (2023) seems like a bit of a tambourine concerto at times. This piece is dedicated to McClosky’s cousin Mike, a comic and jokester. Mike would tease that he wanted to be in McClosky’s bands and always said he could play the tambourine. According to the composer, the mythical character Pan fit Mike’s persona, always playful. McClosky also used Robert Frost’s poem “Pan With Us” as a bit of inspiration.

The “Second Suite” (1911) consists of four movements, all based on specific English folk songs. The first folk tune of “March” is in the form of a traditional British brass band march using the Morris-dance tune “Glorishears.” After a brief climax, the second strain begins with a euphonium solo playing the second folk tune in the suite, “Swansea Town.” The third theme, called “Claudy Banks,” is heard in a low woodwind solo, as in a standard march orchestration. Holst places the next folk song, “I’ll Love My Love,” in stark contrast to the first movement, then contrasts the slow second movement with the rather upbeat third movement that features the folk song “A Blacksmith Courted Me.” The fourth movement has two tunes from Playford’s “Dancing Master” of 1651: “Dargason,” a 16th-century English dance tune, and “Greensleeves.”

“Mother Earth (A Fanfare)” (2006) was commissioned by and is dedicated to Brian Silvey and the South Dearborn High School Band of Aurora, Ind. It is based on a short poem by the medieval friar St. Francis of Assisi. The piece has become an urgent message to treat Mother Earth more kindly.

“Wilderness” (2021) was commissioned by the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic in celebration of its 75th anniversary. “Wilderness” celebrates and honors Earth’s remaining wild spaces and the people who fight to protect them.

“O Magnum Mysterium” (“O Great Mystery”) (1994/2003) has become one of the world’s most performed and recorded compositions. “O Magnum Mysterium” is a chant from the Matins of Christmas. In his setting, Lauridsen celebrates Christ’s birth, God’s grace to the meek and the veneration of the Virgin Mary through a quiet song of profound inner joy.

As the title suggests, “Comet Flash” (2019) is a fast and furious fanfare based on two primary motives, a motor-rhythmic theme first introduced by the brass, followed by a foreboding, multi-metric and somewhat legato middle section. The work is rhythmically relentless and tonally unsettled; the flashes of light are accentuated by the percussion and piano, all which quickly come to a sudden close.

“Luminescence” (2009) is based on fragments from the melody “Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light,” which was written by Johann Schop and subsequently harmonized in several settings by Johann Sebastian Bach. This particular setting is from the second cantata of Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” from 1737.

Admission is $10 for adults; $5 for seniors, member of the military, and FSU faculty and staff; and free for students and children. Tickets are available at the University box office in room 203 of FSU’s Lane University Center (Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), by phone at 301-687-3137 or online at Tickets are also available at the door.

For more information, contact FSU’s Department of Music at 301-687-4109.

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