SDSU bands Bach in action

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Owen Pratt

The SDSU Wind Ensemble performs a mix of musical works, including the rhythmically intense and “Ride,” as well as Bach’s “My Jesus, Oh What Anguish,” a softly stunning piece.

by Owen Pratt, Staff Writer

On Friday, March 4, friends, family, and music lovers alike gathered into the Smith Recital Hall to enjoy a night of beautiful music, resulting from months of diligent practicing and coordinated rehearsals. 

After a break from performing, the SDSU Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble have returned with a new concert, striking a chord with audiences.

The Symphonic Band started the night with a piece called “Africa: Ceremony, Song, and Ritual.” Conducted by graduate student Thomas Finch, the piece was filled with a loud, brassy sound along with a rhythmic percussion section, and soothing woodwinds. The musicians used a wide dynamic contrast, showing off their musical capabilities. The performance was met with a powerful cheer from the crowd.

When the piece concluded, the Director of Bands, Dr. Shannon Kitelinger, entered the stage. Kitelinger thanked the audience for coming, boasting the impressive work his students put in this semester, given the two-week switch to virtual learning. He then conducted the next two pieces: “Hymn to the Dawn” and “The Hounds of Spring.” 

“Hymn to the Dawn” took a different musical approach, with more simple rhythms accompanied with beautiful woodwind and brass solos throughout. The ending had the whole ensemble singing a note in unison. Primarily, the percussion took a backseat while the wind instruments had the spotlight.

“The Hounds of Spring” circled back thematically, with the winds going back and forth between loud and technical to slow and lyrical. For the most part, the tempo stayed at a moderate pace (or moderato for musicians). The woodwinds played some impressive musical licks as well. The piece ended with a loud applause from the audience, with people whispering their praises to each other.

After a 10-minute intermission, the Wind Ensemble took the stage and performed their repertoire.

Beginning with “Ride,” the piece kept a rapid tempo with rhythmically intense music. Their loud dynamics filled the room with an intense energy, keeping the audience on their toes. The percussion played a prominent role, keeping the tempo at bay. Its ending had the winds playing a loud note with clashing cymbals fit the music’s theme.

Next was “My Jesus, Oh What Anguish,” written by the famous Johann Sebastian Bach. This piece pumped the brakes quite a bit, offering a slow, beautiful sound with delicate rhythms. This music gave the woodwinds ample time to shine. Its subtle ending earned praise from the audience yet again.

The last piece performed was “Sonoran Desert Holiday.” Described by Kitelinger as a western movie throwback, this song did not disappoint. The tempo had a large variation, switching from very fast to incredibly slow. It felt very natural, rather than forced and abrupt. The goosebump-inducing chords kept the audience listening, with the ending getting the loudest applause of the night. 

Anand Larson, who performed with the Symphonic Band on baritone saxophone, says he enjoys the process of refining the pieces into a finished product.

“I enjoy the satisfaction of seeing the whole process come together from just sight-reading the piece, and seeing the bare bones of people struggling with everything to then the final concert and seeing everything fit together properly and sounding amazing,” Larson said. 

Saxophonist Savannah Frost, a first year studying music education, felt the groups delivered a good performance.

“I feel like we did really well,” Frost said. “I didn’t really mess up, so that was great…we all listened to each other, we were all in sync and performed well.”

To find upcoming performances, go to the SDSU School of Music and Dance website for more information.