in: Reviews

July 21, 2017

Apollonian Winds Help Sun Set

by

Bands are made for the outdoors, but if you were thinking big and blasting, you would be in for a surprise hearing the MetWinds, whose playing beguiled.

The hourlong show on the grass in Lexington’s Hastings Park Thursday evening drew upwards of several hundred, all of whom took to their feet, many with hand over heart as, with sure poise and respect, the National Anthem began.

John Philip Sousa’s National Game followed, rendered with clear-cut phrasing, much like the best feel of his marches familiar to us all. Punctuating this lightly swinging piece was a suspended wooden tube that the percussionist struck with a baseball bat, and he took his last solo swing delightfully closing Sousa’s homage to America’s pastime.

In El Camino Rea by Alfred Reed, a standard in band repertoire bent on a display of mood swings cast with a Spanish disposition, MetWinds gave full attention to Music Director Lewis J. Buckley’s fine conducting. The ensemble’s nuanced dynamics and shifting paces could be seen in Buckley’s alternating use of his expressive arms and his baton to cover the beat.

An unfamiliar work, Shortcut Home, allowed the winds their show of dexterity. As they made attention drawing streamers of sound, brass encouraged them on with harmonically flavored fanfares. All this brought to mind some of ’60s TV themes. Long-time friends, Buckley chose Dana Wilson’s music.

In Charles Mackerras’s idiomatic arrangement of Arthur Sullivan’s comic ballet, Pineapple Poll, the MetWinds again presented a well-composed sound that danced until it was interrupted by the park’s water sprinklers, which suddenly turned on the crowd. How far would the sprinklers advance? The band kept playing while listeners repositioned chairs, blankets, and what not, to drier climes. That called attention to the effect the two somewhat small speakers had on the music—little to none for this listener, and all to the good. 

When Buckley described A Little Tango Music by Adam Gorbe as simple, easy to play, my first thought was that this might be all the more difficult to pull off. It was the MetWinds’ fetching style of playing that complemented my gazing out to a sky of golden glowing clouds.

Long-time member of the band in retirement, but otherwise a very active supporter, Anne Codman aptly led MetWinds in Sousa’s Stars and Stripe Forever. It was good to see her both as director and the sponsor of the concert. The principle piccoloist stood up to perform the obbligato, which she did in truly sparkling custom. She was later joined by six others, piccolos and flutes alike.

MetWinds raised some excitement in Edvard Grieg’s Dance of the Trolls, the timpani rolling to an exhilarating halt.

Another selection on the program made by the Music Director was through his acquaintance with the composer, Johan de Meij. At Kitty O’Shea’s reminisces of times spent in a bar of that name, the watering hole for band directors ending the day after having attended their annual clinic sessions in Chicago. That all made sense upon learning that this is Lewis B. Buckley’s final round of conducting the MetWinds. He informed us that Harvard’s Band Director, Mark Olson, will lead the next concert, 7:30 Thursday, July 27, once again at Hastings Park.

David Patterson, Professor of Music and former Chairman of the Performing Arts Department at UMass Boston, was recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award and the Chancellor’s Distinction in Teaching Award. He studied with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen in Paris and holds a PhD from Harvard University. He is the author of 20 Little Piano Pieces from Around the World (G. Schirmer). www.notescape.net

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