NEC Wind Ensemble: A Valentine to Contemporary Musical Arts

NEC: Jordan Hall | Directions

290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA
United States

The NEC Wind Ensembles are first in line when given a chance to celebrate music making across disciplines.  This concert brings together musicians of the Wind Ensemble and the CMA departments as we celebrate together the 50th anniversary of CMA at NEC.  CMA instrumentalists join the Wind Ensemble to play Hankus Netsky’s Klezmer Nonantum Bulgar and on Michael Gandolfi’s landmark Vientos y Tangos variations. CMA vocalists provide old-time New England shape note singing as prelude to William Schuman’s arrangements of Chester and When Jesus Wept. Thomas Duffy joins us from Yale for his crossing genres Three Places in New Haven. Rounding out the program is a touch of Spain in Rodrigo’s touching Adagio.  
       The process in which we have delighted for the past weeks has been “very NEC”:  Netsky, Cheb Terrab, and Duffy bringing ideas from other “countries” in the world of music as we together tore down borders to explore this music. 

-- Charles Peltz


This is an in-person event with a public live stream. 

Watch Live from Jordan Hall

  1. Michael Gandolfi | Vientos y Tangos (2004)

    Program note

    Vientos y Tangos (Winds and Tangos) was commissioned by the Frank L. Battisti 70th Birthday Commission Project and is dedicated to Frank Battisti in recognition of his immense contributions to the advancement of concert wind literature. It was Mr. Battisti’s specific request that I write a tango for wind ensemble. In preparation for this piece, I devoted several months to the study and transcription of tangos from the early style of Juan D’arienzo and the “Tango Nievo” style of Astor Piazzolla to the current trend of “Disco/Techno Tango,” among others. After immersing myself in this listening experience, I simply allowed the most salient features of these various tango to inform the direction of my work. The dynamic contour and the various instrumental combinations that I employ in the piece are all inspired by the traditional sounds of the bandoneon, violin, piano, and contrabass. 
            I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Battisti for his inspirational leadership as director of the New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble for over thirty years.  I first heard Mr. Battisti’s work when I was a student at NEC in the late 1970s.  I was instantly moved by his high artistic standards, his ability to motivate young musicians, and the respect for composers, past and present, that he always eloquently expressed to his students.  I would also like to thank Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr. for his professionalism, collegiality and adept work in organizing the commission project.”                                                                                                                
    – Michael Gandolfi


    NEC Tango Ensemble

    Rosario Rivas, voice
    Carson McHaney, violin

    Nikita Manin, clarinet
    G Korth Rockwell, guitar
    Alvaro Emiliano López, guitar
    Mattias Kauffman, accordion
    Avi Randall, piano
    Solomon Caldwell, bass
    Delfina Cheb Terrab, leader


  2. Hankus Netsky | Nonantum Bulgar (2013)


    Program note

    Nonantum Bulgar was commissioned by the American Composers forum in 2012 as part of their "BandQuest" series.  ACF asked me to write a "klezmer-style" piece that could be played by a local middle-school band. Since my local middle school is located in close proximity to Nonantum, the oldest neighborhood in Newton, Massachusetts, I decided to imagine the celebratory Jewish music that might have been played by the klezmer band that led the parade down Adams Street, the "Main Street" of my neighborhood, in honor of the dedication of the Adams Street Shul, the city's oldest synagogue, on December 15, 1912.  As soon as we started rehearsing the piece, I became a major celebrity among the local middle-schoolers, who would gather after school let out at the Dunkin' Donuts that I frequented on most afternoons.
            A bulgar is a popular dance most often associated with the city of Odessa in Southern Ukraine.  This particular version of the dance begins with a rubato trumpet solo followed by a rhythmic trombone figure that leads into the dance section, which features a solo clarinet, the low brass, and a variety of percussion.  Since the early 1980s NEC has been considered a pivotal force in the contemporary resurgence of Eastern European Jewish music, and I am delighted that, as part of the fiftieth anniversary celebration of NEC's Contemporary Musical Arts department, Charles Peltz has invited our department's Jewish Music Ensemble to join the conservatory's Wind Ensemble for tonight's performance of the piece.
    Hankus Netsky

    A multi-instrumentalist, composer, and ethnomusicologist, Dr. Hankus Netsky is co-chair of New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Musical Arts Department, founder and director of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, an internationally acclaimed Yiddish and Klezmer music ensemble, and former Vice President for Education at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA.  He has composed extensively for film, theater, and television, collaborated closely with Itzhak Perlman, Robin Williams, Joel Grey, Theodore Bikel, Robert Brustein, Eden MacAdam-Somer, composer and flutist Linda Chase, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, and produced numerous recordings, including ten by the Klezmer Conservatory Band.  He has taught at McGill University, Hampshire College, Wesleyan University, and Hebrew College.  His essays on Jewish music have been published by the University of California Press, the University of Pennsylvania Press, Indiana University Press, the University of Scranton Press, Hips Roads, and the University Press of America.  Temple University Press published his book Klezmer, Music and Community in 20th Century Jewish Philadelphia in 2015.

    NEC Jewish Music Ensemble

    Itay Dayan, Chris Ferrari, clarinet
    Vladislav Dovhan, saxophone

    Aidan Coleman, trombone
    Carson McHaney, Michele Zimmerman, violin
    Giulia Haible, cello, piano
    Agne Giedraityte, piano
    Jamie Eliot, bass
    Isabella Butler, mallets, percussion
    Jiangcheng Guan, drums
    Hankus Netsky, conductor

  3. Joaquín Rodrigo | Adagio para Orquesta de Instrumentos de Viento (1966)


    Program note

    Joaquín Rodigo was a Spanish composer and pianist.  A student of Paul Dukas, he is most known for raising the Spanish guitar to prominence as a concert instrument, writing several masterful works for the instrument and ensemble accompaniment.  His Adagio para Orquesta de Instrumentos de Viento, or Adagio for Orchestral Wind Instruments, is his first and only commission for wind ensembles, written at the request of conductor Robert Bordreau and The American Symphony Wind Orchestra.  It was a written and premiered in 1966 and has since then become a standard work for ensembles of this specific instrumentation.  The work is composed in an A-B-A-B-A, alternating between slow, serene sections consisting of virtuosic solos and Spanish-inspired melodies, to more frantic and bombastic sections consisting of sporadic passages and fanfares, ultimately leading to a nearly inaudible, tranquil close.                                           
    – Michael Lewis

    • Michael Lewis '23 MM, conductor

  5. Thomas Duffy | Three Places in New Haven: Concerto for Marimba and Wind Ensemble (For Robert Van Sice) (2001)

    Castle in the Sky (Rollo Reads a Book)
    The Long Wharf (Rollo Sails Away)
    City Band March (Rollo Gets a Job)

    Program note

    Charles Ives (Yale ’98) spent four years on the Yale campus in New Haven, CT, from 1894–1898.  Many of the places that he frequented are still intact. Each movement of this concerto addresses one particular place in New Haven. Each is frequented or visited by “Rollo”, Ives’ fictional character of lowest-common denominator aesthetic sophistication and taste.

    I. Castle in the Sky (Rollo Reads a Book)
    Castle in the Sky. The stone masons who built Yale’s library fashioned the air vents on the roof into a miniature medieval castle, complete with flying buttresses and cobbled walls. From some distance, one can see this castle, perched curiously on the top of a ten-story building. In this movement, one hears the opening bustle of students scurrying to class. The motives are made of Charles Ives’ name through the ancient technique of soggeto cavato (carved subject). C = c, H = b, A = a, R = re = d, L = la = a, E = e, S = Eb, and I = ti = b. But, in the library, Rollo has a very short attention span, and he daydreams. He wonders why he studies at all—what’s the use? (The metaphysical question is presented by the trumpet—in the style of a question that ‘goes unanswered.’) Rollo fantasizes that a military maneuver is taking place in the castle in the sky—one hears the sounds of percussion marching troops here and there. The solo marimba attempts to “question” Rollo’s daydream, and things end with neither an answer to the question nor a firm sense of whether the dream is real or the reality a dream.

    II. The Long Wharf (Rollo Sails Away)
    The Long Wharf. Rollo opts to spend Sunday morning not in church, but sailing off the Long Wharf in the New Haven bay. The sun comes up on the peaceful waters of the harbor and Rollo floats about in a state of blissful detachment. Rollo dozes on the boat, here and there one (and perhaps he) hears the sounds of the church service – the hymn that wafts out over the harbor contains a message—it is Wachet Auf (Sleepers Wake!).

    III. City Band March (Rollo Gets a Job)
    City Band March is homage to Charles Ives’ 1903 Country Band March. This march follows the form of its country cousin, including a da capo exposition and a coda, in which things become complicated. Rollo works in a factory, and dreams throughout the workday of the pleasant train ride home to the country. He himself is a mass product; he dresses like everyone else, he rides the train in like everyone else, he repeats the same task all day like everyone else, and at day’s end, he joins the long trudging line of automatons as the masses move in synchronicity, coming and going to their assigned jobs (here their robot-like cadence, two quarter-notes, two eighth-notes, and one quarter note!). Does the piece end with Rollo boarding a train that
    increasingly speeds him home, or is it his imagination—the acceleration representing his increasing desperation to be out of the factory and on his own? You decide.
    – Thomas Duffy

    Thomas Duffy is Professor (Adjunct) of Music and Director of University Bands at Yale University; where he has worked since 1982. In 2017, he was appointed Clinical Professor in the Yale School of Nursing. He has established himself as a composer, a conductor, a teacher, an administrator, and a leader. His compositions have introduced a generation of school musicians to aleatory, the integration of spoken/ sung words and “body rhythms” with instrumental performance, and the pairing of music with political, social, historical and scientific themes. He has been awarded the Yale Tercentennial Medal for Composition, the Elm/ Ivy Award, the Yale School of Music Cultural Leadership Citation and certificates of appreciation by the United States Attorney’s Office for his “Yale 4/Peace: Rap for Justice” concerts—music programs designed for social impact by using the power of music to deliver a message of peace and justice to impressionable middle and high school students.
               From 1996 to 2006, he served as associate, deputy and acting dean of the Yale School of Music. He has served as a member of the Fulbright National Selection Committee, the Tanglewood II Symposium planning committee, the Grammy Foundation Music Educators Award Screening Committee, and completed the MLE program at the Harvard University Institute for Management and Leadership in Education.
               He has served as: president of the Connecticut Composers Inc., the New England College Band Directors Association and the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA); editor of the CBDNA Journal, publicity chair for the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles; and chair of the Connecticut Music Educators Association’s Professional Affairs and Government Relations committees. For nine years, he represented music education in Yale’s Teacher Preparation Program. He is a member of American Bandmasters Association, American Composers Alliance, the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, Connecticut Composers Incorporated, the Social Science Club, and BMI. Duffy has conducted ensembles all over the world and was selected to conduct the 2011 NAFME National Honor Band in the Kennedy Center, Washington, D. C.

    • Eli Geruschat, Ross Jarrell, Danial Kukuk, soloists
    • Dr. Thomas Duffy, conductor
  6. William Billings

    When Jesus Wept


    Program Note

    Contemporary Bostonians think of ourselves as marching in the forefront of battles for good.  Even as we may be, we are pale imitations of those Bostonians of 1775 who marched to that “rude bridge that arched the flood”, inspirited by the music of a one-eyed, gimpy tanner named William Billings. 
            The song Chester was written in 1770 by Billings, then Boston’s premier musician, and was one of many songs Billing’s wrote in support of the American Revolution. These songs (along with his marriage to the daughter of one of George Washington’s officers) provide sufficient evidence that Billings was not only a master tunesmith in the roughcut style of the American colonies, but was a patriotic supporter of the cause of American independence and democracy. This is clearest in Chester’s first and fourth verses:

            Let tyrants shake their iron rod
            And slav’ry Clank her galling Chains;
            We fear them not; we trust in God—
            New-England’s God forever reigns.

            The Foe comes on with haughty Stride,
            Our troops advance with martial noise;
            Their Vet’rans flee before our Youth,
            And Gen’rals yield to beardless Boys.

    Billing’s “When Jesus Wept” is a round to be sung by congregants as a devotional; a reminder of the tragic end of the Passion with its painful death necessary for the Resurrection. 

            When Jesus wept, the falling tear
            In mercy flowed beyond all bound;
            When Jesus groaned, a trembling fear
            Seized all the guilty world around.

    Colonial music had its rough edges in composition and in performance the roughness was heard through distinctive shape note singing. Yet roughness did not preclude multi-part sophistication.  The hymn and fuguing tune was a colonial staple, with a first part in homophony followed by the kind of polyphony heard in When Jesus Wept.


    NEC Sacred Harp Singers

    Litha Ashforth
    Roman Barton-Sherman
    Morgan Brookman
    Itay Dayan
    Jamie Eliot
    Agne Giedraityte
    Kyle Henry
    Tejas Nair
    Daniela Pyne
    Avi Randall
    Yannick Yan

    Haoyu Zheng
    Eden MacAdam-Somer, director


  7. William Schuman | from New England Triptych (1956)

    II. When Jesus Wept
    III. Chester


    Program note

    William Schuman was omnipresent on the post-war American musical scene.  Pulitzer-winning composer, president of Juilliard and then Lincoln Center, Schuman was a practitioner of the post-Boulanger American school: bitonal harmonies of tensile strength propelled by syncopations of New World energy.  His New England Triptych for orchestra was commissioned by the US State Department to be played by an American touring orchestra led by Andre Kostelanetz. At the time of the commission Schuman had discovered Billings and was captivated by the genuinely American texts and music that offered rich possibilities.  These two movements, arranged by the composer himself for wind band, are especially imaginative in their use of variation in the one, and in the other, exploiting the timeless intimacy of duet in meaningful expression.                                    
    – Charles Peltz


    NEC Wind Ensemble

    Javier Castro
    Chia-Fen Chang
    Anne Chao
    Jeong Won Choe
    Anna Kevelson
    Jay Kim
    Elizabeth Kleiber
    Amelia Libbey
    Yang Liu
    Elizabeth McCormack
    Yechan Min
    Subin Oh

    Mara Riley
    Erika Rohrberg
    Dianne Seo

    Dane Bennett
    Donovan Bown
    Robert Diaz
    Gwen Goble
    Kian Hirayama
    Kelley Osterberg
    Samuel Rockwood

    Nathalie Graciela Vela

    Thomas Acey
    Tyler J. Bourque
    Aleksis Martin
    Soyeon Park

    Andrew Salaru
    Erica Smith

    Andy Brooks
    Andrew Flurer
    Matthew Heldt
    Evan Judson
    Miranda Macias

    Julien Rollins
    Richard Vculek

    Vladyslav Dovhan
    Lila Searls
    Zeyi Tian
    Juchen Wang

    French horn
    Logan Fischer
    Sam Hay
    Karlee Kamminga
    Xiang Li
    Hannah Messenger
    Willow Otten
    Tess Reagan
    Paolo Rosselli
    Tasha Schapiro
    Sophie Steger
    Jenna Stokes

    Jake Baldwin
    Daniel Barak
    Michael Harms
    Sarah Heimberg
    Eddy Lanois
    Reynolds Martin
    Nelson Martinez
    David O’Neill
    Dimitri Raimonde

    Eli Canales
    Puyuan Chen
    Zachary Johnson

    Alex Knutrud
    Quinn McGillis

    Bass Trombone
    Chance Gompert
    Ki Yoon Park

    Jack Earnhart

    Jimmy Curto
    Masaru Lin
    David Stein

    Isabella Butler
    Eli Geruschat
    Doyeon Kim
    Ross Jarrell
    Danial Kukuk

    Nga ieng Sabrina Lai
    Parker Olson
    Eli Reisz
    Michael Rogers
    Jeff Sagurton
    Leigh Wilson

    Brian Choy


    Wind Ensemble Graduate Assistants

    Weizhe Bai
    Rachel Brake
    Minchao Cai
    Iverson Eliopoulos