Waking Winds is the first professional recording by the MIT Wind Ensemble (Frederick Harris, Jr., conductor). The music ranges from jazz, minimalism, romanticism, serialsim, and fiddle music. These are premiere recordings of four concerti: Pulitzer Prize winner Gunther Schuller's Song and Dance, and three works composed by MIT composers for the MIT Wind Ensemble; Peter Child, Brian Robison, and Evan Ziporyn.
Waking Winds is dedicated to the memory of John D. Corley Jr., who served MIT for 51 years as conductor of the MIT Concert Band.
Waking Winds is more then just another wind ensemble record: it’s a snapshot of contemporary classical music in the US today. Jazz, minimalism and concerto works live together in strange and distinct harmony. Add to that the fact that it is a record of premieres: this is the acclaimed MIT Wind Ensemble’s first recording and it’s the first recording for all the works on this album. Frederick Harris Jr. moreover drives a tight ensemble.
The composers range from stalwarts like Gunther Schuller and Peter Child to Bang on a Can’er Evan Ziporyn. Of special note is Brian Robison’s “The Congress of the Insomniacs” which could be described as Steve Reich meets Gil Evans with dashes of Ligeti, Messiaen, and Tower Of the Power thrown in for good measure.
An exhilarating range of approaches to the modern wind band.
By Ken Smith
Peter Child's Concertino for Violin and Chamber Winds has an appealingly off-kilter structure; ruminative and harmonically enigmatic for much of the piece, it finishes with a post-minimal flourish. Gunther Schuller's "Song and Dance" also has a long slow section, called "Quiet Music", followed by a more active section called "Fiddle Music". The latter is certainly vigorous and virtuosic, but eschews the rustic character of most "fiddle music". Still, Schuller's language is captivating in its deft combination of angular melodies with lush-yet-complex chords. Evan Ziporyn's "Drill", with the composer as bass clarinet soloist, has a motoric and minimal demeanor, while Brian Robison's "The Congress of the Insomniacs" displays both a broad stylistic palette and ebullient rhythms in a colorful and effective work for winds.Contemporary composers need dedicated advocates wherever they can find them. However, it is quite gratifying to hear a student wind ensemble fill this role so capably and enthusiastically.
By Christian Carey