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Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Wind Ensemble to Take a Look Back and Around

Venetian composer Tomaso Albinoni
Venetian composer Tomaso Albinoni

The always admirable UCSB Wind Ensemble (under Director Paul Bambach and graduate assistant Amanda Kritzberg) will play its annual Fall Concert — this year’s edition is called “Inspired” — at 8 p.m. Thursday in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall (UCSB Music Building).

Bambach’s taste leads him in many different directions, all good, and the evening’s program reflects the variety of his interests.

We’ll hear Frank Ticheli’s Vesuvius, Aaron Copland’s Variations on a Shaker Melody, Béla Bartók’s Romanian Dances, Shelley Hanson’s Elegy for Albinoni, Eric Whitacre’s Cloudburst and Robert W. Smith’s Divine Comedy, a four-movement work inspired by Dante Alighieri’s poem.

Hanson is on the music faculty at Macalester College in Minnesota, and she also has a band called Klezmer and All that Jazz. Her Elegy does a fine job of capturing the haunting lyricism, the gravitas, of Venetian composer Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751).

Somewhat surprisingly, she does not quote Albinoni’s best-known work, the Adagio for Strings and Organ, which Orson Welles employed to such chilling effect in his film of Kafka’s The Trial, but Albinoni was a master of the adagio, and I heard slivers from several of them in Hanson’s work — at least one, appropriately enough, from one of his fabulous oboe concertos.

Smith (born in 1958) certainly thinks big, in cultural terms. The Divine Comedy, based on the Dante trilogy of the same name, is his first symphony for winds; his second is called The Odyssey, and it’s based on Homer; his third, Don Quixote, is a meditation on the novel by Miguel Cervantes. All are large-scale works. On paper, this looks like the most outrageous la-di-da overreaching, but Smith is, fortunately, a quite gifted composer, and The Divine Comedy, at any rate, is a powerful and moving work, utterly accessible and weirdly faithful to the spirit of Dante’s poem.

For more information, call the concert line at 805.893.7001. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $7 for students, and can be purchased at the door, or online by clicking here.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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