WesWinds Fall Concert

Tuesday, December 5, 2023 at 8:00pm
Crowell Concert Hall


The Wesleyan University Wind Ensemble (WesWinds) performs a fall concert under the direction of Salvatore LaRusso.

View or download the WesWinds program here. (Additional program notes below.)


Chorale Prelude: Be Thou My Vision This beautiful setting of the familiar hymn tune begins with bell-like tones that ring upward through the instrumental sections and herald in the melody. The familiar hymn is then transformed through mixed meters to eventually conclude with a jubilant, grand statement of the wondrous melody. Be Thou My Vision is a traditional hymn of Irish origin. In 1905, it was translated from Old Irish into English, and set to verse in 1912. Since 1919, it has been commonly sung to the Irish folk tune, Slane. This setting of the tune is dedicated to the composer’s Arkansas friends, Dr. Tom O’Neal and Pat Ellison, for their wonderful friendship and musicianship.

Music from “How to Train Your Dragon” Embark on a vibrant adventure with John Powell's How to Train Your Dragon, a highly energetic and original score that will ensure you are treated to a fabulous listening experience. “We looked at all the folk music from the Nordic areas. And I'm [Jon Powell] part Scottish and grew up with a lot of Scottish folk music, so that came into it a lot. And Celtic music was something that Jeffrey Katzenberg felt had this very attractive quality to it, and sweetness, that he thought would be wonderful for the film.” This fantastic arrangement for band by Sean O’Loughlin recreates all the inspiration from the movie. Its sweeping melodies and bombastic fanfares transport its listeners to an ancient Viking village, swarmed with dragons! Featuring: This Is Berk and Coming Back Around.

O Waly, Waly O Waly, Waly (loosely translated as "woe is me") is an English folk song that has been sung since the 1600s. It is more commonly known as The Water Is Wide and has been performed and recorded by many of today's top artists. Its roots are unclear, with some claiming Northern Irish origin, while others point to Scotland or England as its birthplace. The text of the song points to the inherent challenges of love ("Love is handsome, love is kind") during the early stages of a relationship. As time progresses, however, even true love can "fade away like a morning dew." The piece opens with an alternate tune to the text of O Waly, Waly as a flute solo. The grace notes should be brought out to project more of a Celtic style. A secondary theme appears in D Major soon afterwards, which at first sounds like a repeat of Waly, Waly. It is actually an entirely new tune, Carolina, the state song of South Carolina. Both tunes utilize the same first four notes, (sol, do, re, mi), and it is this four-note segment that binds all elements of the entire work. Near the end of the composition, both Waly, Waly and Carolina are heard simultaneously, and the piece concludes with a powerful coda containing fragments of both songs and powerful harmonies.

The Water is Wide This setting of the old English folk song O Waly, Waly was composed for my good friend Dr. Jack Stamp as part of the celebration of his retirement in 2014 from a distinguished career at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Renowned as a composer, conductor and educator, Jack was also responsible for commissioning my Sinfonia XII and Sinfonia XXI. In both cases he conducted the first performance of those works. The Water Is Wide is just one of many songs or hymn texts that have been used with this folk melody. The melody itself fits into a pleasant triple meter, but I wanted to use more metrical variety in my setting. Expanding the traditional folk idiom through the addition of more dissonant harmonies was also important to me. I know how much Jack Stamp values classic hymn tunes and "good tunes" generally, so I wanted to make a fresh arrangement of the old tune specially for him.

Rossano Galante: “I am inspired by nature, human emotions—both joyous and melancholy—and of course, by all different types of music. I feel having a strong melodic statement with interesting harmonic movement is the most important element in my music. I believe hearing a melody can convey emotions without words. Music, for me, is the sound of emotions. [Compositionally,] I create two or three melodic themes and develop them into a flowing work utilizing those thematic ideas. This incorporates an introduction, transitions, final statement, etc. I think composing for chamber ensembles is far more difficult than writing for orchestra or band. You have less options and colors to work with when creating music for smaller groups.”

Liberty Comprising two main themes, this profound work strives to capture the essence of Americana. The first of the themes is stated first by a trumpet duet and later by the full ensemble. The second theme follows, robust and dynamic, accompanied by a driving, rhythmic pulse that provides an extra burst of activity. The arc of the piece then returns to the first theme, this time more transparent, subsiding to a gentle, quiet ending. The piece was commissioned by the Covina (Calif.) Concert Band for their 60th anniversary.

Life Eternal “I was asked to compose a work in memory of the young musician, Bryson Yang, who was taken from us much too soon. I hoped to capture Bryson's love of music, his enthusiasm for life, and, most importantly, his kind and generous spirit. The composition is in two parts. The opening theme features a lyrical slow-moving melody striving to convey a sense of hope. The secondary theme is brisk, light, and passionate; it is meant to capture Bryson's youthful energy. As the piece concludes, the slower opening theme is brought back, now played by solo alto saxophone, as this was his chosen instrument. The composition resolves quietly.”

Hypnotic Memories This charming and somewhat dark musical offering is a departure from this popular composer's usual epic style. Originally scored for 15 players, this piece is much more intimate than his thickly orchestrated grand works. Stylistically, a minimalistic compositional approach is used, as the melodic content slowly unfolds over shifting ostinato patterns. Certainly a mesmerizing and very different work from this remarkable composer.

On an American Spiritual In Holsinger's Hymnsong Series, the listener may notice that On an American Spiritual is a surprising departure from his previous hymnsong compositions. We expect the plaintive opening ("Were you there when they crucified my Lord? . . .") and majestic closing portions ("Were you there when He rose up from the dead? . . ."), but the chaotic, brutal nature of the center section would seem greatly out of place until one reminds oneself of the lyrics of this Easter lament, where the center verses recount how they nailed Him to a tree and laid Him in the grave. With this in mind, we realize that Holsinger has composed a variation very dependent on extra-musical events (the traditional verses) for inspiration and understanding.

On the Quarter Deck Alford composed On the Quarter Deck March for the World War I British naval officers in 1917, the same year he wrote The Middy for the midshipmen. The quarter deck was so called because it originally was half the length of the half deck—it became a part of the ship usually reserved for officers. In port, the officer of the deck on naval vessels stood his watch on the quarter deck. It is also the area where ceremonial events take place. Although Alford used the evenly divisible 2/4 and 2/2 meter signatures for most of his marches, his choice of 6/8 meter for this lilting sailing march seems perfectly appropriate.