The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center (courtesy of the Meyerson website)

The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center (courtesy of the Meyerson website)

Wind Ensemble Blows Through Dallas

The Eugene McDermott Concert Hall

The Eugene McDermott Concert Hall

by Melissa Bradt

Sunday, March 8, the University of Arkansas Wind Ensemble will begin a three-day performance and recruitment tour with venues in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

"The tour is part of an effort to recognize some of the best musicians on campus in a world-class performing arts center, while also promoting the university" said Christopher Knighten, professor of music and director of bands.

The concert will include the world premiere of City of Giants by University of Arkansas professor of composition Robert Mueller.

"Imagine a mysterious island inhabited by super-intelligent giants," Mueller said, describing City of Giants, which was commissioned by Knighten for the Wind Ensemble. "In order to celebrate their ingenuity, the giants decide to construct a great city. Wielding their giant tools, they work diligently day after day, and they soon finish their magnificent city. A panoramic view from one end of the island to the other reveals hundreds of giant stone edifices, shining in the noonday sun.  Unfortunately, and perhaps inevitably, an argument over some trifling little matter soon breaks out and leads to a big brawl. The result is the total destruction of their fine city, whereupon the giants simply pick up their tools and start again."

The ensemble will perform at the Fort Smith Convention Center and Union High School in Tulsa. The tour features a Monday evening concert at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. 

"We chose the Meyerson because we wanted to bring a part of the Arkansas art community to our alumni in Dallas," Knighten said. "In addition to its vibrant Arts District, Dallas is a top destination for artists nationwide and has the largest alumni population outside of Arkansas."

The Meyerson’s centerpiece is its 2062-seat McDermott Concert Hall. A European "shoebox" style music chamber, the hall is designed to establish intimacy between performers and audience. A system of canopies suspended above the stage can be raised, lowered or tilted to reflect the sound throughout the audience chamber. The 42-ton system also helps musicians hear one another, which allows them to assess the nuances of their own playing.

"The Wind Ensemble often performs at Northwest Arkansas high schools and concert halls, but this will be the first true tour in a number of years," said Robert Hopper, the program’s associate director of operations.

"The bands program and the Department of Music are both committed to giving students meaningful performance experiences," Knighten said. "Events like this help them to develop as musicians, scholars and leaders."

The Wind Ensemble consists of 50 students who have demonstrated outstanding musicianship and are committed to musical excellence.

"These are some of our top undergraduate and graduate student musicians – including both music and non-music majors," Knighten said.

In addition to City of Giants, the Wind Ensemble will also perform pieces by Michael Daugherty, Michael Gandolfi, Ryan George, Percy Grainger and Joseph Turrin. Concertino for 11 Instruments and Wind Ensemble by Turrin will feature all of the music department’s wind, brass and percussion faculty: Nophachai Cholthitchanta (clarinet), Theresa Delaplain (oboe), Ronda Mains (flute), Stan Morris (saxophone), Cory Mixdorf (trombone), Ben Pierce (euphonium) and Chalon Ragsdale (percussion), Richard Rulli (trumpet), Tim Thompson (French horn) and Lia Uribe (bassoon).

The Wind Ensemble, as well as the program’s three other concert bands, performs two or three concerts each semester. For more information on upcoming concerts, visit the University of Arkansas Bands Program website or call (479) 575-4100.

Melissa Bradt

About the author

Melissa Bradt is a senior majoring in psychology and communication. She is serving as a communications intern in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences for the spring 2015 semester.