UConn Wind Ensemble wows at fall concert

Jeffrey Renshaw conducts the UConn Wind Ensemble during its fall concert at the J. Louis von der Mehden Recital Hall in Storrs, Connecticut on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut Wind Ensemble dazzled the audience in J. Louis von der Mehden Recital Hall with a dynamic and captivating performance Thursday night.

The concert, entitled “New Millennium,” was conducted by Jeffrey Renshaw and featured four diverse pieces: “Firecracker Alley” by Robert Paterson, “Ara Batur” by Kjartan Sveinsson and arranged by David Vickerman, “From a Dark Millennium” by Joseph Schwanter and “Tetelestai” by Andrew Boss.

The opening performance of “Firecracker Alley” was a lively and dynamic start to the show. The brass fanfare, thunderous drums, rim shots, whistles and intricate woodwind runs perfectly captured the thrill of launching a bottle rocket. Near the end of the performance the ensemble threw Fourth of July poppers onto the stage, shocking the audience. 

“Ara Batur” was undoubtedly the stand out performance of the evening, starting off softly with piano and French horn before being joined by the gentle woodwinds. The piece lacked percussion, instead featuring two musicians circling the rims of water glasses, which added an ethereal ringing to the piece. Halfway through the performance, members of the UConn Concert Choir began singing delicate chords. Its final section featured a powerful swell that wowed the audience and elicited a tremendous applause once the piece was finished.  

“From a Dark Millennium” was a major switch from the simple and poignant “Ara Batur.” Constructed in layers, the piece featured whistling and singing—from members of the Wind Ensemble. The piece’s heavy brass and timpani gave it a strong sense of foreboding and an almost galactic feel. 

The final piece was “Tetelestai,” which appropriately means “it is finished” in Greek. Clocking in at nearly thirty minutes, it was by far the longest performance of the show and was far less bombastic than the previous piece. “Tetelestai” is the exact kind of song one would expect to hear at a wind ensemble performance, with its rich mix of brass and wind voices, pensive woodwind-heavy middle section and spirited swells. Several staccato bursts throughout the piece prevented it from becoming too complacent and pleasantly surprised the audience.

The Wind Ensemble’s performance was precise, energetic and far from boring. The talented musicians and eclectic selection of songs kept the small but enthusiastic audience remained enchanted and entertained from start to finish.

Students were very impressed, not only with the musical talent on display, but at the technical performance that accompanied the show. 

“I thought the concert was really creative, and the songs featured many elements I wasn’t expecting, especially the use of the poppers in the first piece,” Haley Morgan, a third semester human development and family science major said.


Helen Stec is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at helen.stec@uconn.edu.