Wind Ensemble

Williams Symphonic Winds and Opus Zero Band

The Tall Gallery, MASS MoCA (North Adams)

Steven Dennis Bodner, director

Passport – Dept. Ensemble

Free, but tickets required. Call 413-662-2111.

In Passages, the Williams Symphonic Winds and Opus Zero Band explore a quintessential Romantic music concept—transfiguration and transformation—through music and video by leading composers and artists of today. Composer Steven Bryant will be in residence as the Symphonic Winds performs his immense and already-hugely popular Ecstatic Waters for ensemble, pre-recorded sounds and live electronics, a work Bryant describes as “W.B. Yeats meets Ray Kurzweil in the Matrix.” For this concert, Bryant has also composed a series of electro-acoustic chamber pieces—Ecstatic Moments—which will be premiered by members of the Symphonic Winds before the other works on the program. The Symphonic Winds also performs a wind transcription of Claude Debussy’s evocative, potent piano prelude The Engulfed Cathedral.

The Opus Zero Band—the flexible chamber ensemble extension of the Symphonic Winds—will perform works by well-known Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, his protege Michel van der Aa, Pulitzer Prize-winner John Adams, and Bang on a Can favorite David Lang. Two of the works—Andriessen’s Passeggiata and Lang’s How to Pray—feature films by Marijke van Warmerdam and Bill Morrison, respectively, which will be screened during the performance. Michel van der Aa is considered one of the leading composers of cutting-edge music in Europe today, and so the Opus Zero Band is excited to be presenting the American and collegiate premiere of his fiendishly uncompromising Attach for ensemble and soundtrack. Finally, Alex Taylor ’10 will be the clarinet soloist in a performance of the first movement—”The Perilous Shore”—from New England native John Adams’s Gnarly Buttons. For both the connoisseur of contemporary art and the music lover who has never had the chance to hear of what a wind ensemble is capable, the Symphonic Winds/Opus Zero Band in MASS MoCA is a unique opportunity.

The Williams Symphonic Winds is a 60-member ensemble dedicated to performing the most significant music written for large wind ensemble; the Opus Zero Band was formed four years ago (originally as Chamber Winds) to perform mostly new music for variable instrumentations, ranging from trios to chamber orchestra and everything in between. Now in his tenth year as Music Director, Steven Dennis Bodner has developed the ensemble’s identity as a leading proponent of the performance of new music at Williams College. The ensemble has commissioned and premiered a number of works by contemporary composers, including Williams faculty and alumni. Recognized as one of the premier wind ensembles in New England, the Symphonic Winds performed at the 2006 College Band Directors National Association Eastern Division Conference; the Opus Zero Band will be performing at this spring’s conference in West Chester, PA. Recently, Opus Zero Band has collaborated with MASS MoCA to present acclaimed work-in-progress performances of David Neumann’s/Eve Beglarian’s feedforward and Philip Miller’s Hottentot Venus. In recent years, the ensembles have been noted both for their adventurous and creative programming and for the quality of their performance, described as “astounding” by critic-composer Barton McLean and “amazingly good” by Louis Andriessen.