Concert Review: Redshift
© THE FLASH LIST | April 20, 2011
Performed by Dallas Wind Symphony
Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center
Sometimes it's hard to tell exactly when a Dallas Wind Symphony performance begins. Certainly well before the first note of the actual concert is played, to be sure.
The pre-concert lecture for their Redshift show offered surprise visits from two of the four American composers on the evening's bill after which Texas Christian University's Wind Symphony band played a grand version of Daniel Pfannstiel's Appollonian Ascent in the lobby before the crowd settled into the auditorium and sang along to the “Star Spangled Banner”.
Man Dreams in Hardware
First up on the 'official' program schedule was John Gibson's Man Dreams in Hardware.
Written in honor of Elliott's Hardware (long-time sponsor of the Dallas Wind Symphony) and utilizing custom-made instruments fashioned from items picked up at Elliott's, the piece featured music played on inverted buckets, sheets of metal, a 10' long 'hailstick' (similar to a rainstick) filled with smooth stones, a keyboard type 'sawsaphone' made from circular saw blades, and much more including an impressive display of PVC pipe creations dubbed the Patuba, Batuba, and PVCiccolo.
According to Gibson (Creative Director at SMU and Artist in Residence at DWS), "God created man; man invented hardware - that's the story". And this story of how history has been shaped by hardware was conveyed to the audience both verbally and musically through humorous narrated accounts of the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, the Renaissance, and the Dark Ages (complete with a Monty Python inspired hooded 'collector' pushing a wheelbarrow down the aisle of the Meyerson yelling, "Bring out your dead!") as well as a ... hmm ... maybe paraphrased version of Noah's conversation with God in which the "hunter/gatherer" Noah protested building the ark with God's [uh, tongue in cheek, alleged] response being, "Man up Noah! Go to Elliott's and you will find the answers!"
Next up was Redshift, played brilliantly by Dallas Wind Symphony's principle trumpeter Brian Shaw and composed for him by his friend Brett Dietz who teaches percussion at LSU (see a previous performance of Redshift here). A redshift occurs when light emitted forth from an object increases in wavelength and shifts to the red end of the spectrum, and this concept was expressed as Dietz's composition opened with primitive percussion sounds which gradually developed into a complex layered piece featuring strong, jazzy beats as well as whimsical tones and extended, dreamy, ethereal notes. As an additional treat, Brian offered the captivated crowd an encore with Sergei Rachmaninoff's Opus 34.
Symphony No. 8
When David Maslanka (who has been composing music for over 50 years) was commissioned to write his eighth symphony, the first thing he did was meditate on the assignment he'd been given. He wondered, "What do I need to know about these people and this situation?" Incorporating Buddhist practices into his life, the reflective and soft-spoken Maslanka soon perceived a vision of a devastated planet. He questioned, "Am I supposed to write a piece about disaster?" No, instead his final work depicts a creative power moving us through our times and a belief that we will not destroy ourselves. His symphony moves from delicate sounds like raindrops falling on rippling water to rather quick, abrupt bursts of brass to earthy wood tones sprinkled with bell chimes to a tapestry of full, rich elegance. (Click here to hear a portion and learn more.)
Join the Dallas Wind Symphony for their upcoming Star Spangled Spectacular on July 4, 2011 at the Meyerson Symphony Center where you can enjoy cool air conditioning, hot dogs, and ice cream while celebrating Independence Day with a salute to Mom, apple pie, and an 11 foot tall Uncle Sam!
For tickets and more information, see: