The top wind ensemble at the College of Music is wrapping up the 2017-18 season in grand style. On Monday, April 30, the CU Wind Symphony brings a tribute and a world premiere to the circular confines of Boettcher Concert Hall at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.
The concert—the next event in the college’s ongoing series at the home of the Colorado Symphony—is part showcase of student and faculty players and part homage to composer David Maslanka, who passed away suddenly in August and was a guest at the college in February 2017.
“The emotional power of this performance will be palpable,” says Director of Bands Donald McKinney. “There will be students on stage who knew David from last year.”
The centerpiece of the program is Maslanka’s epic “A Child’s Garden of Dreams,” a melding of motifs in five movements that’s known as one of the composer’s greatest works. “It’s my favorite of his, but I remember telling David that I was always afraid to do it because of the technical requirements,” McKinney says. “He encouraged me to do it, though, so this felt like a nice way to pay tribute to him.”
The intensity of the program’s second half is balanced by the accessibility of the first, beginning with the mysterious and moving “Shadow of Sirius,” a flute concerto by Joel Puckett. Associate Professor of Flute Christina Jennings is the featured soloist, joined by a surround-sound chorus of student flutists.
“We’re using six flutes throughout the hall, each uniquely interacting with Christina,” McKinney says. “She’s a wonderful colleague and we’re excited to be working with her again.”
A brand new piece, “Unfamiliar Trees,” was written for the occasion by Philadelphia composer Emily Cooley. McKinney worked with Curtis Institute of Music composer Jennifer Higdon to commission the work. “I was struck by Emily’s artistic voice, so we commissioned a piece from her. It’ll be a good chance for our students to perform a new piece by a relatively young composer.”
Also on the program is John Corigliano’s “Promenade Overture,” featuring Associate Director of Bands Matthew Roeder as guest conductor.
McKinney says the concert is the grand finale of a special year of music making for the bands. “This is my fifth year here, and I almost feel like I’ve been on a journey with these students since September,” he explains. “The momentum has all been leading to this, and we can’t wait to collaborate one more time.”
CU at Boettcher is Monday, April 30, at 7:30 p.m. This free concert is open to the public. For more information, visit cupresents.org.