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LA Community Winds tackles Dvorak

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By The Staff

The Los Alamos Community Winds, now numbering 49 players, undertook a major work Sunday at the Betty Ehart Senior Center for a near-capacity audience: an arrangement for band of the Dvork “Symphony No. 9, Op. 95,” under the direction of Ted Vives. Extensive program notes were provided: three pages on the Dvork and three more on the four short numbers.After a prolonged tune-up period, which was not entirely successful, the four movements of the Dvork were performed without interruption. For such a familiar work, the unexpected sonorities took some getting used to, such as the tuba imitating the walking bass “pizzicato.” There were, of course, occasional missed notes and out-of-tune bits, but the wonder was that it could be done at all. What I liked best was the enormous brass section (19 players), which belted out Dvork’s gorgeous passages “fortissimo!” In passing, I was reminded of an event of Dec. 7, 1941, when the New York Philharmonic was broadcasting a performance of this symphony and an announcement was made after the third movement that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. After the brief run-up at the start of the fourth movement, in the stentorian passage that followed, one of the horns forgot to transpose his F-horn to E, and continued the dissonance throughout the passage.After the intermission we heard first a march by Julius Fucik (d. 1916), “The Florintiner,” a pleasant piece well suited to this group. Next, (A) “Short Ride in a Fast Machine,” by “minimalist” John Adams (b. 1947), wherein a vast palette of “ostinato” short motives are endlessly repeated and only slightly varied or introduced to create a massive sound effect. One has to jump on the “machine” and hang on for the duration, counting all the while. Whew! An interesting setting of the familiar hymn “Amazing Grace” by Frank Ticheli (b. 1958) followed, trusting the familiarity to reveal the structure as the tune wanders among the instruments and builds to a rich climax.Finally, Ernesto Lecuona’s movement from a piano “Suite Andalucia” called “Malaguea” was given a broad treatment by the band.The concert was well received by the audience, and there were even several door prizes before the second part. Los Alamos is fortunate to have two large instrumental groups devoted to serious music, and none of the present group plays regularly with the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra (except Ted.) Rehearsal time is always a problem, especially for large groups. I feel more section rehearsals would help, possibly simultaneously with section leaders directing the separate groups.The next concert by the Community Winds is Christmas with the Winds at 2 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Betty Ehart Senior Center, and the Symphony performs at 7 p.m. Friday at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. A feature of that program is the World Premiere of “Fanfare Diamente” by our own Ted Vives.