NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Bethel College Wind Ensemble welcomes another guest conductor well-known to the community in its final concert of the school year, which will also include a world premiere.
The performance, featuring Professor Emeritus of Music Don Kehrberg, will be April 29 (not April 24 as appears on some printed calendars) at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall.
An open reception for Kehrberg will follow the concert, next door in the Mantz Library lounge.
“Having Jerry Toews here last year was so successful, we decided to try something like it again,” said Chris David Westover, Bethel director of instrumental music and Wind Ensemble conductor. “Don was around for the anniversary of the Harvey Festival last summer, and I talked to him then about coming.”
Toews, Goessel, is a Bethel graduate, a retired music teacher in the Goessel public schools and the leader of the McPherson Community Brass Choir. He and his group were guests at the Wind Ensemble’s 2015 spring concert.
Kehrberg, an oboist, led Bethel’s instrumental music program from 1972-2003. Now retired, he lives in Evanston, Illinois, with his wife, Corinne.
“We wanted someone alumni and the community would know and enjoy seeing and hearing,” Westover said. There will be a reception for Kehrberg, open to everyone, after the concert.
The title for the concert is “Al Fresco,” with nearly all the pieces inspired in some way by the outdoors.
“The big piece is the Berlioz symphony for band [‘Grand Funeral and Triumphal Symphony’],” Westover said. “It was written in memory of those who died in the 1830 French Revolution – written in 1840, the 10-year anniversary.
“It was a big marching band piece,” he said, played outside as the bodies were re-interred. “It was an unsuccessful first performance, because the soldiers began shooting off rounds to honor the dead.”
Also on the program are two pieces by Aaron Copland, “An Outdoor Overture” and “Quiet City.”
Kehrberg will conduct “An Outdoor Overture.” “Quiet City” includes solos for oboe and trumpet, to be played by Kehrberg and Bethel senior Braden Unruh.
Kehrberg will also be the oboe soloist for the first movement of Haydn’s Oboe Concerto in C major.
And Unruh, the Walter H. Hohmann Conducting Scholar at Bethel, will be guest conducting as well. He will lead the Wind Ensemble in “Trauersinfonie” by Richard Wagner.
“Like the Berlioz band symphony, ‘Trauersinfonie’ was written to honor the dead,” Westover said. This time it was German composer Carl Maria von Weber. “Weber died outside Germany, in London, and there was a movement to bring him back and bury him in Germany.”
That took 18 years to accomplish. Wagner wrote his piece, based on music from one of Weber’s operas, to be played outdoors as Weber’s body was carried for burial in Dresden in 1844.
Finally, the Wind Ensemble will play Gabrieli’s “Canzon Quarti Toni,” a piece for antiphonal brass choir, and the world premiere of “atlas fractures” by Chicago-based composer Andrew McManus.
“He’s an up and coming young composer,” said Westover. “He just had a piece played by the New York Philharmonic.
“One of his pieces won a composition competition at the University of Oklahoma [where Westover is a doctoral candidate], and I conducted it there and met him. I thought his piece was really good. I asked him about writing for band.
“He didn’t think he had time but that he could transcribe an orchestra piece for band. Then when he got into it, he realized that wasn’t going to work, so he composed a whole new piece. It’s based on one image from the book Atlas Shrugged that intrigued him.”
Four schools – Bixby (Oklahoma) High School, Southern Methodist University, the University of South Florida and Bethel – commissioned the piece and Bethel’s Wind Ensemble will be the first to play it.