FHSU groups end season on a high note

Fanfares, lullabies, folk songs and dance movements brought an air of celebration to the stage of Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center on Friday night as Fort Hays State University's symphonic winds and wind ensemble finished out a shining season.

Like a deep, cleansing breath, the first notes of Eric Whitacre's "The Seal Lullaby," performed by the symphonic winds and conducted by graduate assistant Nathan Froebe invited attendees to lose themselves in its rolling swells.

The five "Dance Movements" by Philip Sparke, described by Lane Weaver, symphonic winds conductor as "a phenomenal masterpiece of work ... with lots of different textures and colors," was a journey from the pastoral to the explosive.

It was a captivating performance, as musical voicing moved seemingly effortlessly between instruments and intricate rhythms wove magic that traveled from exuberance to opulence.

A particular treat offered up by the wind ensemble, was "Children's March," by Percy Aldridge Grainger.

Featuring unusual solo instrumentation: Bassoon, double bassoon, baritone sax, bass saxophone and euphonium, the chocolaty lyrical smoothness of the selection complemented its crunchy rhythms.

Guest artist Ivalah Allen, soprano, was engaging as she performed Bernard Gilmore's "Five Folk Songs for Soprano and Band." From the boisterous "Mrs. McGrath," to the haunting "All the Pretty Little Horses," each folk song was a unique offering.

"Slava," a bawdy farcical selection by Leonard Bernstein, rounded out the evening with joyful animation, followed by a delightfully surprising curtain call, "Wedding Dance" by Jacques Press.

The evening was a testament to the hard work and talent of dozens of fine FHSU musicians and faculty members, and provided an opportunity to honor several graduating seniors.

Those recognized Friday evening included Cameron Brandenburg, Brush, Colo.; Athena Chen, Taichung, Taiwan; Steven Cornwell, Bison; Joseph Doze, Hoisington; Paul Flesher, Hays; Alexandra Hutchison, Monument, Colo.; Melia Korbe, Hays; and Amber North, Ellis.

In addition, Flesher was presented a special award in honor of Lyle Dilley, retired FHSU professor of music.

Dawne Leiker is a reporter and arts enthusiast at The Hays Daily News.