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Williams Symphonic Winds

Sat, February 17th, 2007
9:00 pm

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Image of Chapin Hall

Steven Dennis Bodner, director
Feminine Beginnings

Louis Andriessen: Hadewijch (Jennifer Ashe, soprano, Holy Cross College)

Michael Daugherty: “Oh, Ken” from What’s That Spell?

Libby Larsen: Holy Roller (David Jenkins, alto saxophone, U.S. Marine Band)

Steven Stucky: Funeral Music for Queen Mary (after Henry Purcell)

Elizabeth Maconchy: Music for Brass and Woodwind

Joan Tower: Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 5;

chants by Hildegard von Bingen
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On Saturday, February 17, 8:00 p.m. in Chapin Hall, the Williams Symphonic Winds directed by Steven Dennis Bodner will present a free concert titled Feminine Beginnings: Music of Love, Loss, and Sacred Ecstasy. Inspired in part by Susan McClary’s ground-breaking book Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality, the concert will explore various ways “femininity” is expressed or represented musically through works composed by women and music written to be in some way about women.

Spanning over 800 years, the concert is framed by several chants by the 12th-century nun Hildegard von Bingen and Louis Andriessen’s Hadewiijch (part 11 of his monumental De Materie, of which the Symphonic Winds performed part III in 2005), a setting of one of the visions of the 13th-century Dutch beguine Hadewijch in which she speaks of her “mystic union” with God. While the musical languages may be as removed from each other as possible, both works seek to communicate deeply passionate, spiritually- and physically-felt love. The Symphonic Winds is excited to be joined for the performance of Hadewijch by soprano Jennifer Ashe, who last sang with the ensemble in December in a performance of Andriessen’s M is for Man, Music, Mozart.

Also on the program will be works by women composers Libby Larsen, Joan Tower, and Elizabeth Maconchy. Larsen’s virtuosic Holy Roller is “a revival sermon captured in the sounds of the alto saxophone and wind ensemble.” For this performance, Berkshires native David Jenkins, a member of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, will be the saxophone soloist cum preacher. Former Bennignton College professor Joan Tower is one of the most active feminist composers active today. Since 1986, she has composed a series of Fanfare(s) for the Uncommon Woman; we will feature Fanfare No. 5 for four antiphonal trumpets, performed by Brian Bistolfo ’09, Eva Breitenbach ’10, Connor Kamm ’10, and Benjamin Wood ’08. This year marks the centenary of the birth of Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994), an English composer barely known in this country. Her sublime and majestic Music for Brass and Woodwind, created to make use of the architecture of the Thaxted Church perfectly captures her ideal conception of music as “an intellectual art, a balanced and reasoned statement of ideas, an impassioned argument, an intense but disciplined expression of emotion.”

Not only are works by women composers being featured in this concert, but so are works about women. The music that English Baroque composer Henry Purcell wrote in 1695 for the funeral of Queen Mary II has been called “the most fitting and moving music that has ever been composed for a royal funeral. One feels that in expressing the national mood of mourning, Purcell was also voicing personal feelings of genuine grief.” Transcribing and elaborating upon Purcell’s original music, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky has created in his Funeral Music for Queen Mary a powerful composition described by Glyn Mon Hugues of the Liverpool Daily Post as “dramatic, tense, highly stirring stuff, awesomely beautiful in its simplicity, almost heart-breaking in the intensity of the pleading.” Two short pieces songs of love will round out the concert: first, Emily Bruce ’07–accompanied by Ian Jessen ’07, oboe, and Christina Lee ’08, glockenspiel–will sing Barbie’s love song “Oh, Ken” from Michael Daugherty’s What’s That Spell” (“I love you, Ken. You know I do. You know I always only love you. Oh Ken, what can I do? I’m plastic just like you./I love it when we have our talks,/when you and I get put back in the box. Oh, Ken!); after that, Augusta Caso ’09 will sing Dulcissime, the famous soprano solo of love and submission from Carl Orff’s Camina Burana.

In presenting works by both female and male composers, works about physical love and spiritual ecstasy, the Symphonic Winds’ “Feminine Beginnings” attempts to pose provocative questions as to what the nature of feminism is music is or should be.

Soprano Jennifer Ashe is a member of the faculty at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Jennifer has beenhailed by the Boston Globe as giving a performance that was “pure bravura…riveting the audience with a radiant and opulent voice.” The Boston Phoenix describes her as possessing “rock solid technique” with“the kind of vocal velvet you don’t often hear in contemporary music.” A strong advocate for new music, Jennifer has participated in several premieres and recordings for composers active in the Boston area and beyond and her recent projects include Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with Firebird Ensemble and Peter Maxwell Davies’ Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot with Callithumpian Consort.

A native of the Berkshires and the son of Carl and Jane Jenkins, David is currently a member of the saxophone section of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. His duties with this ensemble have included national tours, saxophone quartet recital tours, and numerous performances at the White House and other distinctive landmarks throughout the Washington, DC area. David earned Bachelors Degrees in Music Performance and Music Education from the University of Massachusetts, a Masters Degree in Performance from Arizona State University, and is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of Minnesota. His principal teachers have included Lynn Klock, Joseph Wytko and Eugene Rousseau. Prior to joining “The President’s Own,” David performed with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, the Berkshire Symphony Orchestra, the Massachusetts Wind Orchestra and the Amherst (NY) Saxophone Quartet; a number of these performances have been broadcast on nationally syndicated NPR programs such as “Performance Today” and “Saint Paul Sunday.” He has served on the faculty of Keene State College, Deerfield Academy, and, in the spring of 2002, was Visiting Instructor of Saxophone at the University of Massachusetts. In November, 2002, David was a semi-finalist at the International Adolphe Sax Competition in Dinant, Belgium; the only American contestant to achieve this distinction. Additionally, with the Arizona State University Saxophone Quartet, he was a finalist at the Coleman Chamber Music Competition, and a winner of the Carmel Chamber Music Competition in May, 2000. Most recently, David can be heard on Arizona University Recordings’ “America’s Millennium Tribute to Adolphe Sax, volume XI” performing Paul Hindemith’s Konzertstück fur zwei.

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