Last night I played in the very last Eastman Wind Ensemble concert of my graduate school career (!!!!). It was also the Eastman Wind Ensemble’s 60th Anniversary concert. The performance featured music that was performed in one of the very first Eastman Wind Ensemble concerts (Stravinsky’s “Symphonies of Wind Instruments”), music by Mozart and Gabrieli, and two world premieres, “Mambo Metallico” by Roberto Sierra, and “Wind Religion (which Sophie Rusnock and I played in),” by Douglas Lowry (who is also the dean of the Eastman School). Professor Scatterday was joined on the podium by Michael Votta (who conducted the Mozart) and Donald Hunsberger (the Stravinsky).
I was afraid that the snowstorm outside would mean that we wouldn’t get much of a crowd, but we did have a fair number of people show up (thanks, hardcore EWE fans! Or auditionees trapped by the storm, whichever). All of the music was great, but I think my favorites were the two world premieres. Sierra’s “Mambo Metallico” was a lot of fun to listen to, and “Wind Religion” was great fun to play. It was also great to have the EWE’s last conductor, Donald Hunsberger, perform a piece. I played a piece for last semester’s Debussy concert with him and I really enjoyed having him as a conductor. Although the only piece I played for him in this concert was our supersecret surprise encore (Shostakovich’s “Folk Festival”) I sat in on a couple of his rehearsals for the Stravinsky.
I always forget that the Eastman Wind Ensemble was THE first wind ensemble. Its founder and first conductor, Frederick Fennell, intended it to be different from a wind band in the sense that there is only one player per part - essentially an orchestral wind section, plus saxophones and percussion (and occasionally harp and piano). He wanted to encourage composers to write for this type of instrumentation and to see it as a serious ensemble. Although it may have taken awhile for his ideas to be accepted, eventually they were, and the Eastman Wind Ensemble is probably the reason a lot of the wind ensemble repertoire exists.
We’re famous! We even have a Wikipedia page, which I think is pretty cool.
Being a fan of playing in orchestra, I never thought I’d say this but I’m so glad that I’ve played in so many Eastman Wind Ensemble concerts with Professor Scatterday. I think I’ve learned more about ensemble playing in this group than in any other. It’s been a privilege, and I will miss it!
Here’s to you, Eastman Wind Ensemble. Happy 60th!