‘Mad About Chamber Music I’ to showcase the talents of the Mercer Wind Ensemble

Members of the Wind Ensemble are hard at work in preparation for their upcoming concert.

Image: Mackenzie White

Members of the Wind Ensemble are hard at work in preparation for their upcoming concert.

Elliot James, Staff Writer

Mad About Chamber Music I, the first of a two-part series, will come to the Neva Langley Fickling Hall at Mercer’s Townsend School of Music on Friday, Sept. 16. The evening will feature small chamber ensembles comprised from members of the larger Mercer Wind Ensemble. The concert is free and open to the public.

“The wind ensemble is too big to fit in the chamber hall,” said Mercer’s director of instrumental ensembles, Douglas Hill, about the decision to divide the musicians into smaller performances.

This year, the Mercer Wind Ensemble has grown to a sizeable group of forty-five players.

In addition, the wind instrumentalists have paired with the Mercer Percussion Ensemble for this upcoming performance. If they were all to play together at once, it would make for an incredibly boisterous sound that the concert hall was not quite built for.

According to Hill, Fickling Hall was built acoustically to amplify the sounds of intimate chamber groups and solo performances.

However, this has given Hill and other Townsend faculty members the opportunity to creatively divide the wind and percussion players into smaller chamber ensembles that will effectively use the building and enhance the musical performance.

“[This is the] first time we will be able to perform a piece for a horn octet,” said Hill.

With the rise in wind players at Townsend, there are now enough instrumentalist to form new chamber groups, like the horn octet. This also makes it possible for new musical arrangements and compositions to be performed.

Hill said, “There is chamber music for all kinds of instrumentations . . . so there is something for everybody.”

This upcoming concert will feature a large array of pieces dating from the 17th century to a more recent work, “Fanfare for Full Fathom Five” by John Mackey.

This epic fanfare by Mackey debuted in 2015 at Columbus State University, where representatives from nine universities participated in its premiere performance.

“I think people really will like it,” said Hill. “It will have dissonance and [then] go into something really tuneful.”

The Mackey piece features brass glissandos where the instruments sigh into their musical phrases. The composition is grand and cinematic and forms “clash-y” chords that then resolve into pleasant harmonies.

“I’m lucky I’ve got some good players,” said Hill in reference to the Townsend student instrumentalists, further highlighting what seems to be a promising year for the Mercer Wind Ensemble.

Hill said that the goal of this concert is to touch one person with one piece. Since the program will feature an eclectic collection of music, it will give audience members the opportunity to hear a wide range of musical styles.

For more information on the Townsend School of Music and Mad About Chamber Music I, refer to music.mercer.edu.