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Symphonic Band will tour the Pacific Coast

February  13, 2012

Dr. James Lambrecht

The Augustana Symphonic Band will begin its spring 2012 tour of the Pacific Coast on Friday, Feb. 17, stopping at two locations in Illinois before continuing to California, Oregon and Washington. The band will return and perform a home concert on Saturday, March 10, at 8 p.m. in Centennial Hall (3703 7th Ave.) on Augustana’s campus.

The first half of the spring tour program features two pieces written by contemporary composer Kevin Walczyk, a Portland native who plans to attend one of the concerts. From Glory to Glory, written to honor the life of Heather Reu, was commissioned by her parents after her death in 2009. Musical motifs throughout the piece are reminiscent of folk songs from the countries of Heather’s adopted children—China and Vietnam.

Members of the Symphonic Band view Walczyk’s attendance as both nerve-racking and exciting. Sophomore Christina Dekker—who plays oboe, English horn, piano and percussion—has noticed that musicians “get caught up in trying to play exactly what’s on the page and forget that the music … is the result of a real person’s thoughts and feelings.

“Even though he doesn’t know us, it means a lot to have Walczyk’s support as we all do what we love with the help of his amazing works,” Dekker said.

The second work by Walczyk, completed in 2010, is Symphony No. 2 “Epitaphs Unwritten.” Inspired by American soldiers who died at the Battle of the Bulge, this award-winning symphony is a challenge to perform. Junior trombonist Kyle Amati considers the Walczyk Symphony No. 2 to be among the great literature and “amazing performance experiences” he has been privileged to be part of as an Augustana student (a list that also includes Maslanka’s Symphony No. 8, Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and Respighi’s The Pines of Rome).

According to first-year student Emily Haskins, a flautist, “the Walczyk Symphony No. 2 has challenging 16th-note rhythms, which you have to play accurately and confidently.” Her Augustana flute instructor Janet Stodd has helped her rise to that challenge. “Since I have come to Augustana,” said Haskins, “I humbly say that my playing has improved a lot.”

Dr. James M. Lambrecht, the director of the band, has dedicated the performance of this symphony not only to the memory of all veterans, but also to the life of Heather Reu, for whom he served as a babysitter while he was a graduate student at Indiana University.

John Philip Sousa’s The Liberty Bell March, begins the concert’s second half. It is the first march Sousa created by commission, and it is the first time Dr. Lambrecht has programmed this work.

The concert ends with two works by contemporary British composer Philip Sparke. Sparke composed The Sun Will Rise Again in the week following the great earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan one year ago. The Symphonic Band’s March 10 home concert will take place on the eve of the tsunami’s anniversary.

This work bears special significance for Dr. Lambrecht, who recently returned after a fall 2011 residency at Musashino Academia Musicae in Tokyo. His time at the Japanese conservatory, he said, allowed him to witness “not only the aftermath of this great tragedy, but also the resiliency, perseverance and spirit of the Japanese people to overcome the obstacles that lie before them as they rebuild.”

Sparke wrote the final piece, The Year of the Dragon, as a commission for the Welsh Arts Council for the Cory Band of Cory, Wales. This beautiful and energetic piece—created for a remarkable, virtuoso band—has been performed by the Augustana Symphonic Band several times on tour, and now is a central part of the band’s core literature.

“Just as the Symphony No. 2 travels from sacrifice to sadness to celebration,” said Dr. Lambrecht, “so does this concert as it ends with The Year of the Dragon.” Audiences who have not yet heard the band perform this celebratory work might choose this year, the Chinese calendar’s Year of the Dragon, to do so.

For this tour, director Dr. Lambrecht devised a program worthy of a band with a long and storied history. The college’s first ensemble was the Silver Cornet Band in 1874, which went on to enlist as a unit in the U.S. Army during World War I and organized its first Augustana student ensemble international tour in 1928. Over the years, the Silver Cornet Band transformed into the Augustana Concert Band and the Augustana Symphonic Band, the college’s premier touring band ensemble.

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833