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Symphonic Band tour: new works, historical moments

February  07, 2012

Portrait photographs by Marla Alvarado Neuerburg/Augustana Photo Bureau


The Augustana Symphonic Band begins its 2012 tour of Pacific Coast states on Feb. 17, stopping at two locations in Illinois before continuing to California, Oregon and Washington. The band will return and perform a home concert at 8 p.m. March 10 in Centennial Hall on campus.

For this tour, director Dr. James Lambrecht has devised a program worthy of a band so grounded in history. The college's first ensemble was the Silver Cornet Band in 1874. This band enlisted as a unit in the U.S. Army during World War I, and mounted its first Augustana student ensemble international tour in 1928. Over the years, the Silver Cornet Band transformed into the Augustana Concert Band and the Augustana Symphonic Band, the college's premier touring band ensemble.

Meet some of the band students

emily haskins

Emily Haskins '15, is majoring in environmental studies and Spanish. She is from Centennial, Colo. She plays the flute.

" Since I have come to Augustana, I humbly say that my playing has improved a lot. Overall, I am more aware of my tone quality, articulation, intonation, blending, listening, and especially rhythm. The Walyzck Symphony No. 2 has challenging 16th-note rhythms, which you have to play accurately and confidently. My wonderful flute instructor, Janet Stodd, has been very supportive and works so hard to make her students better through positive persistence. My involvement in music at Augustana has helped me adjust to campus as an out-of state first-year student, because the music students are a very close-knit group."

christina dekker

Christina Dekker '14 is majoring in music, sociology and Spanish. She is from Mundelein, Ill., and plays oboe, English horn, piano and percussion.

"In high school, I was challenged by our ensemble music and my private teacher, but not by my peers. Coming to Augie, that completely changed. During my first year, I had the opportunity to sit under two senior girls in band — both amazing players, role models and friends. The amount of time spent together in rehearsal combined with the level of dedication required to accomplish all that we do makes us a family. Doc Lambrecht and Mrs. Lambrecht (my oboe instructor) are there for me in everything: musical questions, life questions and even some emergencies. I am starting to think and act outside the box, especially in terms of music. Slowly but surely, my college education has begun to break down walls and get me to try things I never would have tried before."

kyle amati

Kyle Amati '13 is majoring in music education and jazz studies. He is from Des Plaines, Ill., and plays bass trombone.

"Augustana’s music professors are the most knowledgeable people I know. Not only do they teach me about music, but also everyday life skills. I am most surprised how much my taste in music changed over the past few years. Before coming to Augustana I did not know about many of the composers I listen to now... my taste in music has developed and expanded my understanding of music and myself.

Music is my life, and it is hard to choose the best of the many good moments in my career at Augustana. I performed at Orchestra Hall in Chicago as well as concert halls in Italy. I plan on becoming a high school band director after graduating. Eventually, I wish to continue my education and receive a master’s and doctorate in wind conducting, and hope to pursue a career in collegiate wind conducting.

Samantha Tyner

Samantha Tyner ’12 is majoring in economics, French and mathematics. She is from North Aurora, Ill., and plays clarinet.

"When I first arrived at Augie, I wasn’t sure if I would continue to pursue music, but my roommate, another clarinet player, inspired me to at least audition for band. Three and a half years later, we're still roommates and we're still in the clarinet section.

"One of the most important things I learned at Augustana is how to find connections between all subjects and arenas of life. For example, many times I was reading a book in my French class by an author who lived at the same time as the composer of the piece we were working on in band; I was surprised at the many ways the music could emote the same themes as the book. I hope to continue my studies in a Ph.D. program in statistics. I can honestly say I will cherish my four years here for the rest of my life, because they have made me the person I am today.

Among the great

The first half of the spring tour program features two pieces written by contemporary composer Kevin Walczyk (born 1964), a Portland native who plans to attend one of the concerts. "From Glory to Glory," written to honor the life of Heather Reu, was commissioned by her parents after her death in 2009. Musical motifs throughout the piece are reminiscent of folk songs from the countries of Heather's adopted children — China and Vietnam.

Band members view Walczyk's visit as "both nerve-racking and exciting." Christina Dekker '10, who plays oboe, English horn, piano and percussion, has noticed that musicians "get caught up in trying to play exactly what's on the page and forget that the music ... is the result of a real person's thoughts and feelings.

"Even though he doesn't know us, it means a lot to have Walczyk's support as we all do what we love with the help of his amazing works," she said.

The second work by Walczyk is Symphony No. 2 "Epitaphs Unwritten," completed in 2010. Inspired by American soldiers who died at the Battle of the Bulge, this monumental symphony is a challenge to perform. Trombonist Kyle Amati '13 considers the Walczyk Symphony No. 2 to be among the great literature and "amazing performance experiences" he has been privileged to be part of as an Augustana student (a list that also includes Maslanka's Symphony No. 8, Brahms' Symphony No. 1 and Respighi's "The Pines of Rome").

According to flautist Emily Haskins '15, "the Walczyk Symphony No. 2 has challenging 16th-note rhythms, which you have to play accurately and confidently." Her Augustana flute instructor Janet Stodd has helped her rise to that challenge. "Since I have come to Augustana," said Haskins, "I humbly say that my playing has improved a lot."

Dr. Lambrecht has dedicated the performance of this symphony "not only to the memory of all veterans, but also to the life of Heather Reu," for whom he served as a babysitter while he was a graduate student at Indiana University.

‘From sacrifice to sadness to celebration'

The performance of a march is a hope — even an expectation — of band audiences everywhere, and no doubt a march is what we connect to the phrase "Strike up the band!"

"The Liberty Bell," by our nation's master of the march, John Philip Sousa (1854-1952), begins the concert's second half. It is the first march Sousa created by commission, and it the first time Dr. Lambrecht has programmed this work.

The concert ends with two works by contemporary British composer Philip Sparke (born 1951). Sparke composed "The Sun Will Rise Again" in the week after the great earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan a year ago. The Symphonic Band's March 10 home concert will take place on the eve of the tsunami's anniversary.

This work bears special significance for Dr. Lambrecht, who recently returned after a fall 2011 residency at Musashino Academia Musicae in Tokyo. His time at the Japanese conservatory, he said, allowed him to witness "not only the aftermath of this great tragedy, but also the resiliency, perseverance and spirit of the Japanese people to overcome the obstacles that lie before them as they rebuild."

Sparke wrote the final piece, "The Year of the Dragon," as a commission for the Welsh Arts Council for the Cory Band of Cory, Wales. This beautiful and energetic piece, created for a remarkable, virtuoso band, has been performed by the Augustana Symphonic Band several times on tour, and now is a central part of the band's core literature.

"Just as the Symphony No. 2 travels from sacrifice to sadness to celebration, so does this concert as it ends with 'The Year of the Dragon,' " said Dr. Lambrecht. Audiences who have not yet heard the band perform this celebratory work might choose this year, the Chinese calendar's Year of the Dragon, to do so.

Augustana College Symphonic Band Tour 2012

Coal City High School
Coal City, Illinois
February 17, 11:10 a.m.

Peace Lutheran Church
New Lenox, Illinois
February 17, 7:30 p.m.

Grace Lutheran Church
Palo Alto, California
February 19, 4 p.m.

Cascade Theatre
Redding, California
February 20, 7 p.m.

First Presbyterian Church
Medford, Oregon
February 21, 7 p.m.

Augustana Lutheran Church
Portland, Oregon
February 23, 7 p.m.

Wallenstien Theatre
Moses Lake, Washington
February 24, 7 p.m.

Lagerquist Hall, Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, Washington
February 25, 8 p.m.

Centennial Hall - Augustana College
Rock Island, Illinois
March 10, 8 p.m.

For photos from the tour, visit www.augustana.edu/x39925.xml