On Tuesday, the Department of Music & Entertainment Industries at Minnesota State University, Mankato held its first spring wind ensemble concert since the height of COVID-19 in the Elias J. Halling Recital Hall.
Students and attendees gathered to listen to performances by the wind ensemble conducted by Amy K Roisum Foley, MSU’s director of bands.
Foley shaped the sounds of musical notes from varying instruments into one unified piece for each musical segment. Her waving hands set the tone of the music as she commanded the noise in the room as each piece was performed.
“Music gives us the opportunity to communicate with a broader audience and make a greater impact. I love working with students here and celebrating the art of making great music together,” said Foley.
Numerous musical pieces were performed by the ensemble. “Tempered Steel” written by Charles Rochester Young, “La Cathedrale Engloutie” written by Claude Debussy, and “Let Me Be Frank With You” written by John Mackay were among the few performed.
One of the most prominent segments of the night was a 40-minute-long audio-visual piece “Pictures at an Exhibition” written in 1874 by the Russian composer, Modest Mussorgsky. Before the performance, the director voiced that this piece was dedicated to those in peril in Ukraine.
The 10-piece segment was performed in succession with each part cascading into the next, each creating its own unique experience.
“Performing a 40-minute piece like this is quite a huge undertaking,” said Foley.
The wind ensemble has been primarily performing their musical pieces using Facebook Live the past two years due to the pandemic. Preparing for Tuesday’s performance, the ensemble had to once again navigate around limitations due to COVID during rehearsals.
“We had to flex with the realities of life and understand that things don’t always go our way. It doesn’t diminish the power of what we do. The power of the opportunity to make music with each other every day. It was quite a challenge at first to navigate through that but ultimately every musician rose to the occasion,” Foley added. “They were completely engaged, and a part of the moment and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I’m so proud.”
Those in the ensemble voiced their excitement performing again.
“We haven’t had a spring concert since spring of 2019. This is our first time doing anything after COVID of this scale and extravagance, so It was definitely a super fun experience,” said Patrick Karl, a junior performing in the ensemble.
The piece also featured a video that went along with the music and further accentuated the entire performance. Moving shapes and colors on the screen incorporated into a story helped direct the audience’s attention as the musical piece progressed, captivating the audience’s attention.
“It’s hard for the audience to have a perspective of what the composer originally intended, so incorporating the video reaches back and helps showcase the artist’s original intent,” added Foley when explaining the reasoning behind including the visuals in the performance.
The entire listening experience was illuminated by the perfect sync of the visuals with the rhythm and beat of the music, which made the performance all the more engaging and immersive.
“It was interesting to listen with the animations. I’ve never experienced something like that,” said Morium Moin, a sophomore who attended the concert. “The videos went perfectly with the tempo of the music, and I was hooked from the moment that screen went up till the lights came back on. It was a one-of-a-kind experience.”
The wind ensemble will have their final concert of the semester on April 28.
Header Photo: The MSU wind ensemble concert dedicated a piece to Ukraine on Tuesday, March 1st. The song lasted over 40 minutes and was accompanied by visuals that helped direct the audience to certain performers. (Ajay Kasaudhan/ The Reporter)
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