The UCSB Wind Ensemble’s passionately dedicated director, Paul Bambach, has never accepted the compartmentalization and permanent minority status of classical music. He is always seeking ways to connect what he and his students do with the great, ongoing project of life on Earth. Now, for the Wind Ensemble’s fall concert, he has come up with a dandy.

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Roger Cichy’s Gallilean Moons will be the main event at the UCSB Wind Ensemble’s fall concert Thursday.

“2009 is the ‘International Year of Astronomy,’” Bambach said, “celebrating numerous astronomical and scientific milestones — among them, the 400th anniversary of Galileo‘s use of a telescope to study nearby planets. The concert will feature selections from Gustav Holst‘s spectacular symphonic suite, The Planets, and Roger Cichy’s monumental and dramatic Galilean Moons.”

Of course, all woodwind players and devotees will be familiar with the music of Holst (1874–1934), whose two suites for concert band and the Hammersmith Prelude and Scherzo are among the most frequently performed works on wind ensemble programs. All music lovers will know of Holst’s majestic orchestral suite, The Planets. But performances of the work by wind ensembles are comparatively rare. Holst himself transcribed two of the movements — Mars and Jupiter — for symphonic band, and a wind transcription of all seven movements was written by Merlin Patterson in 1998.

However, as most people familiar with The Planets are aware, the concept of the work is astrological rather than astronomical — that is why Earth is not included. Holst is present, as a powerful influence, in the other work on the program, Roger Cichy’s Gallilean Moons.

Cichy (born in 1956) has a dual career as a composer-arranger and a music educator. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music and a master of arts in music education from Ohio State University.

After earning his master’s degree, Cichy worked at the University of Rhode Island and Iowa State University, directing bands and teaching undergraduate courses. In 1995, he resigned his position at Iowa State University to devote full time to composing and arranging.

Galilean Moons was commissioned by the University of Georgia Wind Symphony and premiered at the College Band Directors National Association national convention in February 1997.

In the report of that convention, the work was described as follows. “Each of the four Galilean moons is extremely different and unique from each other. Cichy’s work reflects this, with each movement intended to be different and contrasting. Ganymede is an earthlike body… Much of this movement incorporates the Neapolitan minor scale. Callisto… has been illustrated with an unchanging, haunting melody introduced by the alto flute, laced with crystal-like sounds giving the portrayal of a cold, dark, life-less object. Io is largely based on minor second and tritone intervals. One of the most mysterious of all known bodies is Europa. Cichy’s wide use of major/minor tonality is dominant throughout this movement.”

The Gallilean moons are the four satellites of Jupiter that were among the first discoveries made by Gallileo when he turned his new telescope on the heavens. The news of their existences set the intellectual world of the 17th century on its ear and got Gallileo in big trouble with the Inquisition.

The star-struck concert of the UCSB Wind Ensemble will be at 8 p.m. Thursday in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall. Tickets, sold at the door only, are $15 for general admission and $7 for students. For more information, click here or call 805.893.7001.

Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.