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Eastman Wind Ensemble

In 1951, under the direction of Frederick Fennell, a group of wind, brass, and percussion students at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, performed a groundbreaking concert. On the program were several names quite familiar to the Western musical canon, including Willaert, Lasso, Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky, as well as a few less-familiar faces, such as 17th century composers Samuel Scheidt and Johann Pezel, and 20th century American Carl Ruggles. The pieces themselves, however, were in an even more obscure vein: a motet for double brass choir by Lasso, a trombone quartet by Beethoven, and Stravinsky's Symphonies for wind instruments. In an effort to create an ensemble that could fulfill the traditional social and musical functions of a band, while at the same time endeavoring to create its own sonorities and foster its own compositions, Fennell and his students established the Eastman Wind Ensemble. In the ensuing years, Fennell and his group would play a crucial and prominent role in shaping the character of this new, historically grounded but uniquely American genre.

Central to the Eastman Wind Ensemble's pioneering role in the realm of "serious" wind music was its prolific recorded output during the Fennell years. Raoul Camus, writing in the New Grove Dictionary of American Music, observed that "Fennell's pioneering series of 24 recordings for Mercury brought about a reconsideration of the wind medium and established performance and literature models for the more than 20,000 wind ensembles that were subsequently established in American schools." These recordings included important works by such notable 20th century composers as Paul Hindemith, Arnold Schoenberg, Vincent Persichetti, and Krysztof Penderecki; the ensemble's recorded output also reflected the desire, reflected in that first concert, to rescue neglected works of the past. One album, for example, was dedicated entirely to works by Giovanni Gabrieli. The ensemble's notoriety also increased through numerous radio broadcasts heard throughout the country, and through several national and international tours.

In 1962, Fennell passed the baton of the Eastman Wind Symphony to Clyde Roller, an Eastman graduate who had previously conducted the Amarillo Symphony. Two years later, the conductorship was assumed by another Eastman grad, Donald Hunsberger. Hunsberger had been an apprentice to Fennell, and under his new direction, the Eastman Wind Ensemble continued to greatly influence the character of the symphonic winds genre. From 1967-1970, the ensemble helped define and stimulate the wind repertory canon by collaborating on a project with MCA Music and Decca Records, in which performances of new works by the ensemble were coordinated with the publication of scores and part sets by MCA, as well as the release of recordings on Decca.

In the last decades of the 20th century, the Eastman Wind Ensemble continued to serve as a model for collegiate wind organizations worldwide, touring extensively in Europe and Asia, and continuing to perform and record important works by noted composers including Christopher Rouse, Joseph Schwantner, and Wynton Marsalis.
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Ballet Music For Bands

Composer: Sir Arthur Sullivan
Title: Pineapple Poll, Ballet (Compiled & Arranged By C. Mackerras)

1. Pineapple Poll, Ballet (Compiled & Arranged By C. Mackerras): Opening Number

2. Pineapple Poll, Ballet (Compiled & Arranged By C. Mackerras): Jasper's Dance

3. Pineapple Poll, Ballet (Compiled & Arranged By C. Mackerras): Poll's Dance

4. Pineapple Poll, Ballet (Compiled & Arranged By C. Mackerras): Finale

Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Title: La Boutique Fantasque

5. La Boutique Fantasque: Danse Cosaque

6. La Boutique Fantasque: Nocturne

7. La Boutique Fantasque: Allegro Non Troppo

8. La Boutique Fantasque: Mazurka

9. La Boutique Fantasque: Tarantelle

10. La Boutique Fantasque: Valse Lente

11. La Boutique Fantasque: Can-can

12. La Boutique Fantasque: Andantino

13. La Boutique Fantasque: Galop

14. La Boutique Fantasque: Waltz

Composer: Charles Gounod
Title: Faust - Ballet Music

15. Faust - Ballet Music: Ensemble Of Helen

16. Faust - Ballet Music: The Trojan Maidens

17. Faust - Ballet Music: Cleopatra And Her Nubian Slaves

18. Faust - Ballet Music: Bacchanale Of Rhyne

Composer: Darius Milhaud
Title: Suite Française (5), For Orchestra, Op. 248b

19. Suite Française (5), For Orchestra, Op. 248b: I. Normandie

20. Suite Française (5), For Orchestra, Op. 248b: II. Bretagne

21. Suite Française (5), For Orchestra, Op. 248b: III. Ile De France

22. Suite Française (5), For Orchestra, Op. 248b: IV. Alsace Lorraine

23. Suite Française (5), For Orchestra, Op. 248b: V. Provence

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