The Shippensburg University Woodwind Ensembles blew the crowd away with the performance of its autumn repertoire Sunday afternoon in Old Main Chapel.
The ensemble performance consisted of the Flute Choir directed by Suzanne Thierry and the W8 Duo and Saxophone Choir, which were directed by Christopher Ritter.
The Flute Choir took the stage first and opened with a solemn Native American soliloquy full of wonder called “Echoes in the Wind” by Phyllis Avidan Louke. The piece featured several solos by various members of the ensemble and was accompanied by a light drumbeat. “Echoes in the Wind” was followed by the “Festive Overture,” an upbeat and cheery piece by Dmitri Shostakovich and arranged for the flute by Shaul Ben-Meir.
The flutists then played “Libertango,” an Argentine piece with a very sly and cunning jazz feel to it and “Ave Maria,” a beautiful choral piece with cascading melodies and angelic harmonies.
The Flute Choir ended its performance with the Steve Sample arrangement of “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” by Leon Jessel. This piece had a definite swing but was also march-like in mechanics and could almost be compared to the theme of a Saturday morning cartoon in some passages.
Thierry explained that the music was selected from locations from around the world — from America, to Russia, to Argentina, to England, and finally Germany.
Following the Flute Choir was The W8 Duo, which was named after the time that director Chris Ritter and student Shae Wawro met to rehearse. The two began their selection with the “Legato Duet” by J. E. Skornicka, which was then followed by the mournful yet not unhappy “Autumn Bender.”
The duo then continued with Franz Anton Hoffmeister’s “Minuetto,” which was followed by two canons. Both the “Canon in Unison” and “Canon a Tone Lower,” were pieces that Wawro and Ritter played off each other and alternated melodies.
With the performance of “Musical Curiosities,” the music became more peculiar.
“I’m reading what she is playing backwards,” Ritter said, referring to the notes on the staff and how he was reading an alternate version of the same rhythm Wawro was playing to great artistic effect.
The Saxophone Choir began with three jazzy “Bop Duets” by Bugs Bower, which were edited by Steve Bulla. The first, “No. 4,” was played exclusively by the high-pitched soprano saxophone, the second, “No. 2,” was performed using only the lower tenor saxophone and the final, “No. 6,” was a combination of all the pieces.
The saxophones retuned their instruments between each song. “We tune because we care,” Ritter joked, quoting Jimmy Hendrix.
Following the “Bop Duets,” the saxophones switched to a fuller ensemble of instruments for the sweet and serene “String Quartet, Op. 11,” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, which was translated by Larry Teal. This was followed by a jazzy piece that bounced from an aggressive and bombastic approach to a slow and creeping style, titled the “Vignette” by Harold L. Walters.
The Saxophone Ensemble closed the concert with Mitushkin’s “Quartet Movement.”
Ritter sent the audience off by sincerely thanking them for coming.
“It’s wonderful that there are students who came here just to play,” Ritter said. Ritter further explained that SU does not have a music major, which means that the performers partake in the ensembles in their own volition, instead of just to fulfill a graduation requirement.