The Utah Wind Symphony finished its third concert season this week with the world premiere of Alex Weston’s “The Loud Calligraphy of Lightning.”
An ambitious new ensemble, the Utah Wind Symphony should be commended for commissioning and performing new works — more than half of the program was by living composers, and the Weston piece had been commissioned by the Utah Wind Symphony.
Of course, part of that may be practical. Wind symphonies are a young type of ensemble in the world of classical music and haven’t built up a repertoire like traditional symphonies.
The program was bookended by Richard Saucedo’s “Windsprints” and two movement’s from Holst’s “The Planets.” Although “Windsprints” is a recent piece, it had the same spirit as “The Planets,” and made a nice pairing to frame the concert.
“The Loud Calligraphy of Lightning” demonstrated remarkable talent by young Weston. Rather than develop a linear melodic line, he chose to develop textures, sounds, motifs, and thematic gestures.
For the most part, he brought these elements together in a cohesive and musically enjoyable way. Somewhere past the middle, the energy seemed to drag; it’s hard to maintain interest without melody during a long section where the dynamics and overall textural effect are too similar.
Will “The Loud Calligraphy of Lightning” become a new staple in the repertoire of wind symphonies everywhere? Time will tell; a strong beginning and a decent end can make it easy to forget mild weaknesses in the middle. And the performance by the Utah Wind Symphony was done well.
The evening also featured Donald Grantham’s fun “Southern Harmony.” Based on early 1800’s tent-revival-type songs, it was a model for writing that showcased what a good wind symphony can do, and the Utah Wind Symphony pulled it off in style.
The wind symphony also played John Philip Sousa’s light-hearted “Easter Monday on the White House Lawn,” and the lush “Hold this Boy and Listen,” by Carter Pann.
Overall, the program showcased the Utah Wind Symphony as a serious music ensemble.
Except for the adaptation of Holst’s “The Planets,” the rest of the selections didn’t try to mimic traditional symphonic works; they were written to explore and showcase the unique characteristics of a wind symphony.
Review: Utah Wind Symphony
In it’s season finale, the Utah Wind Symphony shows it’s a serious music ensemble, performing new selections as well as others that don’t mimic traditional symphonic works.
Where • Rose Wagner Theatre for the Performing Arts, 138 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City
When • Reviewed Wednesday, June 12