Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

“Time and Winds” offers instrumental education to students

Posted on November 03, 2016 in Arts & Culture
By USM Free Press

USM Website

By Kelly Scrima, Free Press Staff

“Don’t feel like you’re trapped in a dark concert hall,“ said Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Bands Dr. Trae Blanco to the audience in attendance. “Time and Winds” was performed by members of USM’s Wind Ensemble, including Blanco, who played the harpsichord and conducted. The performance was held in Corthell Concert Hall on Sunday Oct. 23, at 2 p.m. The audience was encouraged to dance, to chat and to sing along to the pieces if they felt inspired to do so. If there was one thing to be taken from this concert, it was the kinetic, lively energy from the pieces, which mirrored Blanco’s encouragement of liveliness in the audience.

The concert brought the audience through time in regard to the history of wind instrument repertoire. Blanco broke the mold of the more traditional repertoire of a concert band. His music selection spanned centuries, and he said the concert was all about “context.”

Blanco attended a summer music camp whilst in high school, wherein he met George Parks, a professor at UMass Amherst, who sparked his interest in conducting. This is his first year with USM, and he says that he is enjoying his time thus far.

“Flexibility”, is the element Blanco says he enjoys most so far about working at USM. He remarks that he is “enjoying having the opportunities to do various numbers of things in any conglomeration.”.

During the second piece, entitled “Double Dutch” by David Biedenbender (b. 1984) and Jennifer MacDonald (b. 1986), the lights went down and a clip was played in the background. The short clip had monochromatic shapes, lines and patterns that moved across the screen with  a static quality.

Justin Reyes, a member of the ensemble, states that Blanco is a great addition to the USM School of Music faculty. He believes that Blanco “has a plethora of ideas,” and “can take us to to the next level for us to be nationally known as one of the leading schools of music.” USM’s School of Music is one of the leading institutions of higher-learning in regard to music in the New England region. Reyes also spoke of the achievements of another fairly new professor to the school of music, Nicholás Alberto Dosman. He is an assistant professor of music and director of Choral Studies who joined the school faculty last year. Reyes believes that Blanco is set to make the the same impressive progress that Dosman has made so far in his work at USM.

Reyes and Blanco said that their favorite piece from the performance was “The Threepenny Opera” suite by Kurt Weill (b. 1900 and d.1950). Each piece had its own energy, and all ensemble members worked in harmony.

The two soloists, Adam Baird and Kate Bernier, took the spotlight in their pieces. Baird played  a wonderfully calm Luis Milan (b. 1500 and d.1561) piece. This piece was  the oldest of the works performed and was well-played by Baird in a classical manner. Bernier performed a compelling work by Eugene Bozza. The performance was full of life and required an innate focus in regard to breath control.

Melody Hasbrouck, a music education major, “enjoyed the broad variety” performed by the ensemble. Mary Bernier, who is the mother of one of the performers, said she “liked the selections” and that it was interesting to hear “Trae Blanco and what he’s chosen to play.”

In regard to the future of the USM Wind Ensemble, Blanco says that they will continue to do more “experimental” music, and that he wants to get the ensemble involved in “some of the theatrics” that go into performing.
The ensemble, as suggested by Blanco, is headed in a rather exciting direction, and it will be intriguing to see where they go in the future. Reyes says he hopes that the ensemble will resume touring parts of New England.

If you wish to check out other events hosted by the USM School of Music, and to keep up with what is happening with the USM Wind Ensemble, I highly suggest visiting: http://www.usm.maine.edu/music/events.

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