This season at New England Conservatory, 30+ concerts demonstrate just how vital music is to human struggle, and what revolution in artistic expression sounds like. Programs range from roots music to Beethoven, fight songs to anti-war anthems. Join our year-long exploration of how music speaks truth to power!
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Charles Peltz, Director of Wind Ensemble Activities, and his former teacher, Frank L. Battisti, founder and former longtime conductor of the Wind Ensemble, join forces in this program titled NEC Legacy. [Please note: Mr. Battisti has had to withdraw from this performance for reasons of health. Mr. Peltz will conduct the full program.]
The program opens with a Canzona by Giovanni Gabrieli, a continuation of the Wind Ensemble's exploration of the brass works of the works by this 17th century master of antiphonal music from St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice.
The program continues with iconic works that were performed numerous times during Frank Battisti's tenure with Wind Ensemble:
Grainger Lincolnshire Posy
On the second half, Peltz will revive Michael Colgrass's Winds of Nagual: A Musical Fable for Wind Ensemble on the Writings of Carlos Castaneda. The work was commissioned by NEC and dedicated to Frank Battisti.
Frank Battisti writes about this work, quoting Colgrass:
Winds of Nagual is based on the writings of Carlos Castaneda about his 14-year apprenticeship with Don Juan Matis, a Yaqui Indian sorcerer from Northwestern Mexico. Castaneda met Don Juan while researching hallucinogenic plants for his master's thesis in Anthropology at UCLA. Juan became Castaneda's mentor and trained him in pre-Colombian techniques of sorcery, the overall purpose of which is to find the creative self - what Juan calls the nagual.
Each of the characters has a musical theme: Juan's is dark and ominous, yet gentle and kind; Carlos' is open, direct.
The work is programmatic, with a variety of styles and moods. These moods sometimes change abruptly to reflect the narrative of the story. In places, characters are represented by certain instruments and themes, not unlike the Wagnerian leitmotif. In a 1991 interview, Colgrass described his approach to Winds of Nagual stating, "Important to me in this piece is the sudden change of styles and feelings and moods and tempos. These characteristics are indigenous to the books, where a humorous situation will be followed instantly by a terrifying one. I tried to capture these changes and moods in the music.
"The first movement, The Desert, is highly evocative of the opening of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. The opening sound of the E-flat clarinet is a possible reminder of the bassoon in the treble clef from Stravinsky's Ballet. In the third movement, Don Genaro Appears, laughter can be heard from the clarinets. In the eighth movement, Don Juan Clowns for Carlos, clowns from a circus or carnivale can be heard here. The clarinet and saxophone sections utilize folk music to make sound that could remind the listener of a memory of painted up performers. And the final movement, Last Concersation and Farewell, a similar sounding feel arises to the Great Gate of Kiev from Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky.