By Staff Writer Gabriella Barthe
The Angus A. Bailey theatre was filled with the melodic stylings of UMass Dartmouth’s own Wind Ensemble led by Conductor and College of Visual and Performing Arts professor Tobias Monte, Tuesday November 27.
Audience members entered the space to sounds of horns warming up back stage, slight chatter, and the Wii shop theme music lightly being plucked out by the handle ends of mallets on a marimba.
When the band finally came onstage they were greeted to the sight of a professional group in tuxes, suits, and general concert black. Though were distracted by one member with no shoes, a flashy maroon jacket, and blue and red plaid blazer in the back.
Once the music started these fashion choices seemed to fade away as members of the audience were paying more attention to the song choices themselves than what the members were wearing.
The group spent about an hour showcasing their hard work throughout the semester on eight pieces: Bombasto by Orion R. Farrar arranged by C.T. Smith, Prelude, Siciliano & Rondo by Malcolm Arnold arranged by J. Paynter, Allerseelen (All Soul’s Day) by Richard Strauss arranged by A. O. Davis, Divertimento No. 1 (Fifth movt.) by W. A. Mozart arranged by T. Monte, Two Aryes for Cornetts and Sagbutts by John Adson arranged by R King, Balloonology by Chris Crockarell, Variations on a Korean Folk Song by John Barnes Chance, and Good Swings Wenceslas arranged by Sammy Nestico.
The UMass Dartmouth Wind Ensemble was joined this year by Alumni Zachary Grady on Trumpet, and Daniel Moniz on Clarinet. Not only that but faculty member Michael Monte joined in on Alto Saxophone, and retired faculty member Paul Ukleja performed on Trumpet with the group.
“I liked that there were faculty and alumni performing,” says Megan Sullivan, a Music Education Major and class of 2021, who came to support her friends in the band, “I thought the show was fun, all of them are amazingly talented.” That talent was hard to miss, even without microphones the group was able to fill the space with strong sound.
Sitting near the front of the auditorium was in no way necessary for this performance and was almost a bit painful for the blast of horns at the beginning of the first song. Though, once the band started playing with dynamics in their pieces it became much more palatable.
Tobias was fun as he spoke with the audience to explain the pieces he chose and poked fun at the band. Three of the pieces were made for specific portions of the ensemble breaking them down further into Woodwind Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, and Percussion Ensemble.
When it was the Percussion Ensemble’s turn to perform Tobias realized that he had taken the students’ music the class before but didn’t have it with him on stage leaving the group of five to awkwardly make eye contact with the audience while holding balloons.
Their piece, Balloonology, was explained to the audience by class of 2022 ensemble member Brian Jordan while Tobias left the stage to find their sheet music. Though after a brief moment of trying to explain why the quintet was playing a song on balloons, all Jordan could come up with was “I go to college.”
They audience got a good laugh out of his comments, and Tobias’ poking fun. When he returned and ultimately told the audience how they would be playing a song using balloons by releasing air to make a skweek sound, rubbing the surface, tabbing them, rubbing them against their teeth (a method described as “smiley”) and of course popping them, he finished by noting they would be playing “in perfect time because they’re percussionists” which the entire room found amusing.
While Tobias would stop mid-sentence to instruct the ensemble to do things during his talks with the audience and had not used the microphone due to a technical confusion at the top of the show, this only added to the character of the performance.
After 13 weeks of classes and rehearsal, this ensemble was able to pull together and put on a show that they and the audience ultimately enjoyed, and that in itself is a success.