In any other year, the spring concert on the Gustavus campus by the Gustavus Wind Orchestra would simply be the spring concert — the wind orchestra’s final major performance of the year. However, with the College, its alumni and the music community gathering in Christ Chapel on Saturday, May 10, to celebrate the over 50 years combined service and music contributions to the life of the region by two of the Department of Music’s longest-tenured professors, Saturday’s concert will be anything but “simple.” At the center of this celebration are Douglas Nimmo, conductor of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, and Steve Wright, director of the Gustavus Jazz Lab Band, who will retire at the end of May. However, before they go, more than 250 musicians from the College’s music community will gather en masse for this very special spring concert. The wind orchestra’s spring concert at 1:30 p.m. in Christ Chapel will be the two professors’ final appearance in a major concert on the campus.
Saturday’s concert by the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, under the direction of Douglas Nimmo, will include the variety of programming that has become Nimmo’s trademark in concert development. It will also include the premiere of two works, specially commissioned for this concert. Two friends of music at Gustavus, Mike Johander ’99 and long-time House of Prayer Lutheran Church (Richfield) organist Jon Kietzer, have commissioned renowned wind orchestra composer Jack Stamp to write “Roulette’s Deception” for the celebration. St. Peter residents will know the name of Joe Roulette, a member of the Minnesota Territorial Legislature who, in 1851, disappeared with the bill proclaiming St. Peter as Minnesota’s capital before the Governor could sign the document. Without his signature, St. Paul became the state’s capital and the infamous Roulette part of St. Peter lore.
Steve Wright, long-time director of jazz and trumpet studies at Gustavus, will also premiere his newest composition, “Cinema” for solo trumpet and wind orchestra. Over the years, Wright and Nimmo have collaborated on a number of performances. Wright performed Clifton William’s “Dramatic Essay” with the Gustavus Band early in his tenure and his own trumpet concerto on one of the wind orchestra’s annual concert tour. Wright’s “Concerto for Trumpet and Wind Orchestra” appears on the Gustavus Wind Orchestra’s 1998 CD Standards. On Saturday, Dr. Wright will take the lead once again with the Gustavus Wind Orchestra and premiere “Cinema,” a work he describes as “the closing credits sound track for a movie that has never been made.”
Saturday’s spring concert by the Gustavus Wind Orchestra will open with “Celebration” by Philip Sparke, a work that the composer defines as a “celebration of the optimism of the human spirit.” Jack Stamp’s commission of “Roulette’s Deception” and Steve Wright’s “Cinema” will follow. With an admonition given to him long ago by an audience member who advised him to never program a band concert without a Sousa march, Dr. Nimmo and the wind orchestra will continue the concert with an arrangement by a former percussionist of the Gustavus Band, Keith McConnell ’83, of John Philip Sousa’s “The White Rose.” The first half of Saturday’s concert will conclude with Eric Whitacre’s “Lux Aurumque,” arranged from the original a cappella choral work by the composer, and Frank Ticheli’s “Blue Shades,” a tribute to America’s musical art forms of jazz and blues, with hints of the Big Band Era.
Nearly 200 vocalists, members of the Gustavus Choir and the Choir of Christ Chapel, will then join the ensemble to perform two choral works with the Gustavus Wind Orchestra. The first of the two works to be performed by the ensemble of more than 250 musicians will be “Antiphon,” one of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs, followed by the third movement, “Symphonia Resurrectus,” of David Holsinger’s magnum opus, The Easter Symphony, commissioned by the Gustavus Band and premiered in Christ Chapel in 1995, under the direction of Conductor Douglas Nimmo. The 2014 spring concert by the Gustavus Wind Orchestra will conclude, as is its tradition, with Herbert L. Clarke’s arrangement of Lowell Mason’s “Nearer My God to Thee.”
Following the conclusion of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra’s spring concert on May 10, the audience is invited to attend a reception outside of Christ Chapel to celebrate the work of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, its conductor Douglas Nimmo and trumpet soloist, composer and jazz director Steve Wright. Saturday’s spring concert by the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, featuring Conductor Douglas Nimmo and trumpet soloist/composer Steve Wright, will begin at 1:30 p.m. in Christ Chapel. The performance is open to the public. Admission to the concert and the reception is free.