Washington Wind Symphony: “States of Mind”

On Mar. 9 at the Kirkland Performance Center, the Washington Wind Symphony put on their “States of Mind” performance. It was phenomenal, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t normally take the effort to go see performances such as these.

The ensemble was comprised of piccolos, flutes, oboes, English horns, bassoons, contrabassoons, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, cornets, French horns, trombones, euphoniums, tubas, percussion, celestes and a harp.

Led by Edwin C. Powell, the Washington Wind Symphony brought a performance to the table that was both fun and thought-provoking. Powell is currently the director of bands and associate professor of music at Pacific Lutheran University. He teaches both conducting and music education classes as well as leading the University Wind Ensemble and Concert Band.

After the performance, I found out that the group is comprised of lawyers, businessmen, doctors and many more. For having such demanding careers, the group certainly seemed to have put a lot of time and effort into their music.

The ensemble opened with “The Alcotts” by Charles Ives, followed by “Country Band March” by Charles Ives, “Divertimento for Band” by Vincent Persichetti, “Greek Folk Song Suite” by Franco Cesarini, Bach’s “Fugue a la Gigue” and closed with a dramatic performance of “In Wartime” by David Del Tredici.

Both the “Country Band March” and “In Wartime” were my absolute favorite parts. The “Country Band March” was composed in 1903, so it has been some time. The whole time, the band is almost out of tune, obnoxiously loud, awkward and just all around hilarious. Ives created the piece as a parody of what really happens during a live performance by a country band. It wasn’t exactly peaceful music to the ears, but it was a form of hilarity that everyone could enjoy.

The Washington Wind Symphony’s rendition of “In Wartime” was the first time I had ever heard the piece in my life. I’m glad it was, though, because it was a great experience. It was definitely longer than all the other songs, which explains why it was the big finale. The mood of the piece changes quite often, signaling the beginning of war and the downtime of war. The ending was definitely the part that made it feel most dynamic. The playing got increasingly louder and more hectic, making your heart pound with anticipation. The closing of the piece was accompanied by air raid sirens, making it feel as if the performance wasn’t in a performing arts center at all. It definitely was a little scary, especially since after the air raid sirens finally  wound down a little, the room was completely silent. I mean, the “hear a pin drop” kind of silent.

When it comes down to it, the Washington Wind Symphony is an amazing group of musicians and certainly knows how to put on a show. I would recommend it to lovers of music and those who just want to try out something new. The next show is on May 18 at 3 p.m. at the Kirkland Performance Center.