Of Shadow and Light
Steven Bryant’s Radiant Joy was composed after a difficult moment in his life. Though it began as a strict serial composition, a mental block led him to spend time listening inwardly. The result is an ebullient piece whose primary motive, introduced by the vibraphone and the piano, conveys a sense of light bursting across the horizon at dawn.
Aaron Perrine’s Only Light reworks material from his dissertation composition, Beneath a Canvas Green, in which a single melodic motive is continuously transformed, reflecting the play of light seen through tree leaves in his native Minnesota. Although Perrine was not fully satisfied with how the earlier work treated its main motive, the terminal illness of a close friend’s spouse gave him fresh inspiration. In this moment of darkness, the play of light became a symbol of how delicate life is and how things can change at a moment’s notice. After fragments of the motive are heard in the introduction, it is presented in full by a solo euphonium and then passes through a wide range of ensemble colors, carrying the listener on an emotional journey of struggle and triumph.
Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, KU emeritus professor James Barnes’s Visions Macabres is a tripartite work in one movement. The piece moves from the Garden of Eden through earthly temptations to the damnation of mankind. Although art historians debate whether Bosch’s painting is a moral warning or a vision of divine pleasures, Barnes writes that “this brief encounter with the darker side of human nature…might serve as a medium for personal reflection on the timeless struggle between the supposed purity of man’s soul and the ubiquitous temptations of evil.”
Joel Puckett composed his Knells for Bonnie in memory of his grandfather, a baseball player who, in 1944, found himself on a ship in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. But Puckett knew nothing of that wartime experience until after Bonnie’s death, when he discovered a letter that his grandfather had written from Tokyo Bay, just a couple weeks after the end of the war. Puckett knew him only as somebody who always had time for a game of catch and who preached love and forgiveness. This piece seems a reflection upon the sadness Bonnie must have felt, realizing with each passing year that the world-wide peace he hoped he had helped earn is still, somehow, beyond our collective selves.
John Mackey’s Sheltering Sky has quickly become a standard in the concert band repertoire, thanks to its accessibility for both audiences and musicians. Influenced by Percy Grainger, this piece draws on two original folk-like tunes that are arranged in an arch form. Frequently drawing on solo instruments and unusual timbres, the piece evokes moods from reminiscence to yearning.
Joni Greene’s The Moon Glistens is an adaptation of her earlier choral work Autumn Reflections (2009). Whereas the choral work was a setting of six haiku poems, this piece is a three-movement tone poem that treats the texts in symbolic fashion. The most pervasive image in the first two movements is the moon, which gives way in the third to rainfall on an autumn evening.
Colin Roust, Musicologist, The University of Kansas
5:19 Radiant Joy (2006) - Steven Bryant (b.1972)
7:43 Only Light (2014) – Aaron Perrine (b. 1979)
11:14 Visions Macabres, op. 40 (1979) –James Barnes (b. 1949)
4:27 Sheltering Sky (2012) – John Mackey (b. 1973)
Moon Viewing (5:03)
Wide Blue Sky (5:32)
Autumn Rain (7:25)
Recorded at the Lied Center of Kansas, October 3-5, 2015 and April 15-17, 2016.
Producer: Scott Weiss
Production Assistants: Aaron Perrine, Joel Puckett, Joni Greene, James Barnes, Matthew Smith, Luke Johnson, Michael Mapp, Sarah Labovitz, Allison Cockshaw, Steven Smyth, Tonya Mitchell, Michael Compitello.
Editing and mixing: Scott Weiss, Paul W. Popiel, Brock Babcock
Engineer: Brock Babcock
Liner notes: Colin Roust
Cover design: David Gnojek
The University of Kansas Wind Ensemble
Described by the New York Times as “one of America’s most esteemed concert bands,” the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble is the premier wind band at the University of Kansas and is led by Paul W. Popiel, Director of Bands. Their Carnegie Hall debut in 2013 was described by Feast of Music as “showing amazing chops in their transitions and an impressive range of dynamics” and by the New York Times as “performing with polish, assurance and copious spirit, eliciting a rousing ovation."
The University of Kansas Wind Ensemble enjoys a long history of excellence and musical leadership in the state of Kansas, across the nation, and around the world. The ensemble has performed at every major wind band and music education convention in the country, and performed with musicians such as Aaron Copland, Vincent Persichetti, Percy Grainger, Karel Husa, Michael Colgrass, and Frank Ticheli. The Wind Ensemble performs diverse repertoire of the highest caliber from chamber works to large ensemble pieces and has a strong commitment to new music, as well as the finest standard band repertoire.
Paul W Popiel, conductor
Paul W. Popiel is the Director of Bands at the University of Kansas, only the seventh person to hold this position in the band's storied 125-year history. Dr. Popiel conducts the KU Wind Ensemble, directs the graduate program in wind conducting, and guides all aspects of the university band program.
His Carnegie Hall debut in 2013 was heralded by the New York Times: “The ensemble, conducted by Paul W. Popiel, performed with polish, assurance and copious spirit, eliciting a rousing ovation;” while New York’s Feast of Music said, “Give credit to Popiel, a strong advocate for new music, who went for broke, succeeding in showing us that there is, in fact, real, adventurous music being made over on the other side of the rainbow.”
Popiel has lectured and performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. A proponent of distinctive new music, Popiel has commissioned and premiered numerous new works for winds, including pieces by composers Joel Puckett, Mohammed Fairouz, Michael Torke, Kevin Walczyk, James Barnes, David Dzubay, Joni Greene, and others.
Sarah Frisof, soloist
Sarah Frisof is Associate Professor of Flute at The University of Kansas. She is also the principal flute of the Dallas Wind Symphony and a frequent performer with the Dallas Symphony. She has performed with the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony and Boston Symphony. She has also appeared at the Verbier, Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals. Each summer she performs at the Music in the Mountains festival in Durango, Colorado. Frisof holds degrees from the University of Michigan, the Juilliard School, and the Eastman School of Music.
THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS WIND ENSEMBLE
Paul W. Popiel, conductor
*players listed alphabetically, with fall and spring personnel merged into one roster.