The Wittenberg Symphonic Band has joined a consortium to commission four women composers to each write a work for wind band in celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States. The Symphonic Band will give regional premieres of the works throughout their 2019-2020 season, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, in Weaver Chapel.
The four composers - Kimberly Archer, Grace Baugher, Stephanie Berg, and Nicole Piunno - represent both well-established and up-and-coming composers who have all written previous works for the wind band medium.
“Commissioning composers offers a unique opportunity for our students to be part of bringing new art to life. This project is particularly exciting because it also adds more women composers’ works to the wind band repertoire,” said Brandon Jones, professor of music and conductor of the Symphonic Band at Wittenberg.
Led by Carl Rowles, director of bands at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, Kansas, and Chris Miertschin, director of bands at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas, the consortium seeks to not only celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, but more importantly to add diversity to the wind band repertoire.
“There is an increasing awareness of diversifying concert programs in recent years, ensuring a wider range of voices are heard,” Jones said. “The Institute for Composer Diversity has begun studying concert programming in this manner and provides a database of underrepresented composers as a tool for conductors as they plan their repertoire choices."
The Wittenberg Symphonic Band is the largest instrumental ensemble on campus, comprised of more than 50 woodwind, brass, and percussion players who recognize the importance of the wind band as a serious expressive medium in presenting compositions as works of art. Repertoire for the ensemble has included award-winning composers, new music, standard wind band literature, wind chamber music, and premieres of student compositions, as well as collaborations with faculty soloists and other university ensembles.
In 2017, the Symphonic Band joined a consortium of 26 Lutheran colleges and universities to commission This is Most Certainly True by James Stephenson in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and gave the Ohio premiere that October. True to the liberal arts mission of the University, the ensemble is open by audition to Wittenberg students of all majors as well as members of the Springfield community.
The Wittenberg Symphonic Band has been under the direction of Jones since 2006. Other performances for the 2019-20 season are Nov. 22, Feb. 28, and May 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Weaver Chapel. More information about the Department of Music can be found at https://www.wittenberg.edu/music.