Section: Arts

Symphonic Wind Ensemble blows the audience away

Symphonic Wind Ensemble blows the audience away

Emily Stegner, Collegian

By Bailey Blaker

The Kenyon College Symphonic Wind Ensemble’s first performance of the year this past Saturday began in a rather unusual way. Once the customary tuning had finished on stage, Professor of Music Dane Heuchemer did not take to the conductor’s podium; instead he calmly made his way toward the trumpet section. Instrument in hand, he made a quick comment to the crowd spread around Rosse Hall. “We’re a little short-handed today,” he said, and then proceeded to lead the wind ensemble in their opening number, “Pavane Battaille,” from The Danserye. Even without a conductor at the helm, the ensemble soon filled Rosse with lively and rich sound.

Once their first piece had concluded, Heuchemer made his way back to the podium. The ensemble’s second piece, “Elements” by Brian Balmages, brought life to the audience. Each movement embodied each of the four elements: air, water, earth and fire. The ensemble’s rich bass sound rounded out the piece beautifully, while the upper woodwinds took each movement to another level.

The ensemble’s third piece, “Four Dances” from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein, was “nominated by the ensemble,” according to Heuchemer. At the suggestion of one of its members, the ensemble played three of the four songs in Bernstein’s composition. Even without the choreography associated with Bernstein’s composition, the three songs were bold and captivating.

After a brief intermission, the second half of the program commenced. Select movements from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana were performed with flair. The ninth movement, “When We are in the Tavern,” featured some rather unusual percussion instruments in the form of two large metal mugs.

The last piece in the program, Eric Whitacre’s “Godzilla Eats Las Vegas!”  was by far the most eccentric. “The whole time I had goosebumps,” attendee Meera White ’18 said. The song started with the members of the ensemble donning brightly colored party hats and tiaras, and it only escalated from there. From the Las Vegas show music to the various bouts of screaming, “Godzilla Eats Las Vegas!” drew the audience in and completed the program with flair..

“Most of our programs are kind of eclectic,” Heuchemer said. “It was time to play Godzilla. … It’s always a good popular piece with the family.” This proved to be true, if the delighted laughs and gasps from the audience were anything to go by. The ensemble’s success at their first performance is due to their hard work over the last five weeks. The band suffered the loss of 16 seniors last year, so a steep learning curve existed for this year’s members. “I had a good group of freshman come in this year,” Heuchemer said. “Many of the freshman are quality players.”

“It’s been a long five weeks of rehearsals,” clarinetist Karen Salas ’18 said. This was Salas’s first performance as a member of the Wind Ensemble. The hard work she and the other members of the group have put into the music showed. As the program progressed, the group became more confident and more alive and this was reflected in the audience. The Wind Ensemble will perform their next concert on Sunday, Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. in Rosse Hall.


Comments for this article have closed. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor for publication, please email us at