WindEnsemble and Concert Choir review
Irecently attended awe shall overcome prism concert played by a jointwind ensemble and concert choir. There have been several othersimilar performances around the world going by the same name of “weshall overcome” usually celebrating civil rights struggles. Thesong “we shall overcome” has a rich history in the American civilrights movement but has a history going as far back as the 16thcentury. The input, song meaning, lyrics and interpretation havediffered among various groups over time. Owing to the song’s richhistory, and depth, it is a favorite among choirs and ensembles. Thesong’s relevance to the civil rights movement in the US came aboutafter Peter Seeger performed the song in front of Martin Luther KingJnr which literally turned the song into the civil rights movement’santhem. It was also performed in front Martin Luther King Jnr stillby Joan Boaz. The Southern Illinois University wind ensemble andperforming choir thus chose the song to perform it as a prism in anevent at the Shryock Auditorium in Carbondale which I attended andenjoyed.
Theperformance involved both the wind ensemble and concert choir.Although joint performances such as this are becoming more common,they are not main stream. In the current performance, the windensemble sat to the right of the stage with the director in front ofthem at the middle. The whole formation was a “C” which gave thedirector an advantage and good view of all the performers. Themembers were well spaced giving each instrument the needed “envelopeof space” to develop its tone as intended before travelling to theaudience. The concert choir was placed at the back of the stage in anupper deck in three rows. The arrangement in the concert choir seemedto follow the normal arrangement for a choir thought it appeared tohave more men than women which is unusual.
Theconcert directed by Mr. Elbert addressed the theme of civil rightsthroughout. The opening performance was “We shall overcome” whichprovided the direction of the concert and set the mood and tone forthe rest of the performance. In this particular song, what wasevident in the various sounds is the struggle and frustrations thatis reminiscent of the civil unrest period. The song was delivered ina manner that the ensemble and the choir was able to exercise controland deliver a clear message through the performance. The nextperformance was “a song for Rosa Park” which celebrates the lifeand contribution of Rosa Parks to the civil rights movement. The songexpressed both sadness and energy in the sense of representing whatreally defined the actions of Rosa Parks. Other songs performedincluded GoTell It on the Mountain,TimesThey Are A Changin’and peopleget ready.
Thenew approach of joint concert performances gives a more wholesomeapproach to music. Although purists might this view approach asdetrimental to the preservation of the unique genres of music andperformances, it gives the audience a wholesome performance andbrings to the fore the unique experience of a joint performance. Ifeel that while it is important to presser each genre of music andperformance, it is also important to bring together these genres forentertainment purposes. One thing I observed could be problematic insuch joint performance was on matters pertaining to sharing thestage. Some conductors are specific about the arrangement of windensembles. In such cases, one conductor insists that having a deeperarrangement as opposed to a wider arrangement creates richer sounds.