The concert opens with a lesser-known original work for orchestral winds and percussion by Malcolm Arnold – Water Music, written in 1964. The form and feel of the 3-movement work will seem familiar, though, as it consists of a fanfare type opening with shifting tonalities; a lilting siciliano featuring a wistful melody; and a rousing finale in a fast 3.
The featured work is Symphony No. 1, “Blue,” by James Syler. Written in 1999, this is a five-movement composition featuring the wind ensemble, a soprano soloist and large SATB chorus. Megan Knapp (Trinity ’99) is our soprano and the 100+ voice combined Trinity University Choirs [expertly prepared by Dr. Gary Seighman] provide the choral presence.
“Blue” is a musical and textual narrative that seeks to portray the resolution of personal despair in a form other than self-destruction. Inspired by the literary work of Joseph Conrad (“The Heart of Darkness”) and T.S. Eliot (“The Hollow Men” and “Four Quartets”), the text, illuminated by harmonic and timbral instrumental colors, implores the listener to consider that despair is not static and in the nadir of despair a choice of regeneration can be made. While the full understanding and destination may not be realized at the time, the process of transformation is, in and of itself, redemptive.
This is the first collaboration between the wind ensemble and the choirs, and one could not select a more lyrical, moving, and thought provoking musical work.