Wind ensemble pulls meaning from concert selections

The wind ensemble hosted its first concert of the school year Friday, Oct. 3, in the Rhea E. Miller Recital Hall.

The songs in the performance included “Clapping Music” by Steve Reich, “Torn Canvases” by Matthew Tommasini, “Talking Points” by Amy Dunker and “Divertimento” by Gary Ziek.

The selections throughout the concert emphasized the idea that not all music is amusing to listen to.

“Music can be many things,” said Norman Wika, director of bands and associate professor of music. “It can be sweet, bold, relaxing or exciting. It can also be beautiful or ugly. Like any form of art, it can express a wide variety of emotions and sentiments, and sometimes it can be more intellectual than emotional.”

Wika pulls music apart to find the deeper meanings and rhetoric behind every song. He said he likes and is drawn to music with deeper meaning.

“I tend to like music that requires me to think about how it is constructed and how to extract meaning from it,” Wika said. “It’s a bit like a puzzle. There is satisfaction in finding the meaning, and then the listening experience becomes that much richer.”

Wika said he believes it’s important for students to become exposed to all types of music, which is partly what inspired him to select such songs for his concert.

“I chose this program because I thought it was a good balance of music that is challenging to listen to and music that soothes the ear,” he said. “Each [song] has a challenge for the players and audiences alike. As an ensemble director within an academic music setting, I feel an obligation to expose students to a wide variety of music and to help them expand their own musicianship through performing music that is challenging in different ways.”

Evan Siemienkiewicz, an engineering freshman, is a member of the marching band and played the alto saxophone in the wind ensemble.

He explained the story behind the first song of the evening, “Clapping Music.”

“(It was) arranged in the 1970s,” he said. “‘Clapping Music’ was a popular music back then. It’s a song where the beat goes in and out of phase … and the second part gradually gets a beat behind every six measures.”

Siemienkiewicz said he believes the song could symbolize a break from conformity, and that could have inspired social movement.

“It definitely is breaking away from the norms of typical music,” he said.

John Jacoby, an accounting freshman, is also a member of the marching band and plays the tenor saxophone. Jacoby attended the event because of his familiarity with and fondness for music.

“I know several of the people in the ensemble,” Jacoby said. “I came to support them, as well as actually listen to the music.”

Jacoby played in his high school’s marching band for four years and continues to admire and appreciate music.

“This was my first college-level music performance,” he said. “I was not disappointed.”

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