Wind Ensemble concert showcases Hilltopper talent

By Hannah Mason, Assistant Editor

To start with, I am not a musician. I have no specialized or technical knowledge about music, but I attended Wednesday night’s Odds and Evens Concert, performed by the West Liberty Wind Ensemble – and I was impressed. I think this concert showed just how tremendous and diverse the talent here on the hilltop is, and how events like these can bring lots of people—musicians or not—together.

The concert began at 7:30 p.m. the evening of Wednesday, March 23, in College Hall. The Wind Ensemble, with its 32 student musicians, two professors, and conductor and professor Patrick Garrett, started with a piece called “Mangulina.” Happily, I found that most of the seats around me were filled, with more people walking in as the show was beginning. I stopped counting heads when I got to 50.

With “Mangulina,” the ensemble gave an impressively rousing and festive start to the performance, and their energy continued throughout the show. The student performers seemed to me to be in their element, and they performed beautifully and flawlessly.

The program continued with Drew Fennel’s “Hometown Miniatures,” two movements of Frank Ticheli’s “San Antonio Dances,” Timothy Broege’s “Sinfonia V: Symphonia Sacra et Profana,” John Mackey’s “Strange Humors,” and Karl King’s “Excelsior Galop.” The name of the concert, “Odds and Evens,” became clear as the performers transitioned between many different types of sounds that did not go together—and were not meant to.

For example, conductor Patrick Garrett introduced one piece, “Sinfonia V,” as “two great tastes that taste great together…except not,” saying that the piece was a strange mix of Lutheran church hymns and ragtime. Just as he said, the piece ended up being a brassy-sounding, rhythmic tune with a sung hymn thrown in the middle of it.

There was a little bit of everything, it seemed: from a blend of Hispanic and Texan influences, to a distinctly Middle Eastern piece underscored with an African djembe drum, to dance rhythms from the Dominican Republic. To my untrained ear, I felt like I was listening to the musical movie score to interesting and exotic places far away from the hilltop, places that I’d very much like to go. I was reminded that music does not necessarily need lyrics to make you feel something.

My favorite piece, though, was “Hometown Miniatures,” which felt to me like it could be the sweet, nostalgic movie score to the town of West Liberty. The student performers represented the stories of their hometowns well.

“The arts are alive and well, and they’re living at West Liberty,” Garrett assured the audience at the beginning of the show. The arts certainly seemed alive to me, as I watched a stage full of expert musicians prove that West Liberty packs a lot of talent and passion into this little hilltop campus.

Great job and congratulations to all the musicians and everyone else who put on the Odds and Evens Wind Ensemble Concert, and I certainly recommend all Hilltoppers attend their next show.

Photo provided by Hannah Mason