Wind Symphony recognizes British conflict and composers Feb. 24

Story by Brandon Adams

Throughout the 2016-17 school year, the Colorado State University Wind Symphony has honored active-duty and veteran military, police, fire and medical services at each of their performances, playing music that reflects on various world conflicts. On Feb. 24, they continue their series by focusing on Europe, specifically Great Britain.

Each piece on the program has a unique flair that ties it into the British theme, and almost all of them feature a special guest, either conductor or soloist, participating with the ensemble.

“It is a tremendous pleasure having these guests take the stage with the Wind Symphony, and we look forward to performing alongside them,” said Director Rebecca Phillips.

Grainger piece

One of the first pieces being performed is a suite of compositions considered essential repertoire for every college student. Lincolnshire Posy, by Australian-British composer Percy Grainger, is a famous transformation of recorded folk music that was considered hard to decipher, out of tune and time, and quite unflattering; during a time of political unrest similar to today, Grainger created one of the most beautiful melodies that soothed a nation.

Immediately following, the Wind Symphony welcomes CSU Tuba Professor Stephen Dombrowski, Boston University graduate and principal tubist of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. In his first solo appearance with a CSU ensemble, Stephen Dombrowski is the featured performer in the Gregson Tuba Concerto, composed by Edward Gregson, also a Brit. Although this piece fits the theme of the concert, the central focus is on having Professor Dombrowski on center stage.

The night of music then continues with the Peterloo Overture by Malcom Arnold, a somber work about a peaceful protest gone wrong. Shortly after the War of 1812, the British Parliament raised taxes to an unbearable level, causing many citizen protests. Having seen enough conflict in the recent years, a peaceful gathering was organized in the form of a picnic. Unfortunately, the peaceful protest turned sour when the local militia overreacted, and fired on the picnic goers. Graduate Student Andrew Gillespie makes his conducting debut, leading the Wind Symphony through this sobering reflection.

A lighthearted turn

The performance becomes more lighthearted, however, when the Wind Symphony plays the famous Colonel Bogey March from the 1957 film The Bridge on the River Kwai. Written by British composer Kenneth Alford, this World War I tune (most commonly whistled) caught on among the British soldiers, becoming somewhat of an anthem among generations of soldiers to come.

For this piece, the baton will be handed off to Dan Berard, band director at Fossil Ridge High School. Berard was invited to conduct the ensemble as part of an ongoing effort to engage with local high school music programs.

Finally, DPhillips takes her place back on the stage for the remainder of the concert as the Wind Symphony finishes with Paris Sketches by Martin Ellerby. Written at a time when Britain believed France belonged to them anyway, Ellerby was determined to capture the essence of France better than any French composer. Though the French prime minister begged to differ, it will be up to the audience to determine how successful Martin Ellerby was in his efforts!

Whether you are a fan of British folk tunes, tuba solos or just the premiere CSU ensemble that is the Wind Symphony, all are welcome.

Ticket information

Tickets for the performance are no charge for full-fee paying CSU students, $1 for youth (under 18), and $12 for the public. Tickets are available at the University Center for the Arts (UCA) ticket office in the UCA lobby Monday through Friday, 3:30-5:30 p.m. and 60 minutes prior to performances, by phone at (970) 491-ARTS (2787), or online at

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