University of South Alabama Wind Ensemble to perform host concert for the 2015 Alabama All-State Band Festival

Posted on March 29, 2015 by William Petersen
William Petersen

Spring 2015 USA Wind Ensemble data-lightbox='featured'
The University of South Alabama Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. William PetersenDownload larger image

The University of South Alabama Wind Ensemble, under the baton of Director of Bands, Dr. William Petersen, will perform a special host concert on Friday, April 17th, for the Alabama Bandmasters Association All-State Band Festival.  The concert will be held at the historic Saenger Theatre, restored to its former glory with the help of the University of South Alabama, with the downbeat at 8:00PM.  The concert is free and open to the public.


The concert begins featuring a work for brass choir and percussion by Pulitzer nominated composer, James Beckel. Musica Mobilis was commissioned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art to honor the legendary sculptor Alexander Calder.  Calder was famous for his large mobiles and the composition seeks to use set themes in different juxtapositions to create the effect of the constant motion of a large mobile.  The full USA Wind Ensemble then takes the stage for Percy Fletcher’s comedy overture, Vanity Fair, under the direction of Associate Director of Bands, Dr. Michael Phillips.  Dr. Greg Gruner, Chair of the Department of Music at the University of South Alabama and Director of Bands from 1993-2014, will then join the Wind Ensemble to conduct Percy Grainger’s charming The Immovable Do.

To close the first half of the program, the Wind Ensemble will morph into a quasi-jazz band for George Gershwin’s 1924 classic, Rhapsody in Blue. Though often heard in a full orchestral setting, the work, which was scored originally by Ferde Grofé for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, was in truth an experimental piece for solo piano and Whiteman’s 23-member big band (with a few violins added).  The version being performed is an adaption of both the 1924 and 1926 Grofé arrangements for jazz band and pit orchestra by Donald Hunsberger, former conductor of the Eastman Wind Ensemble.

Arakawa ThumbnailThe USA Wind Ensemble welcomes to the stage for the first of many future collaborations, newly appointed piano faculty member, Dr. Jasmin Arakawa.  A charismatic and versatile pianist, Arakawa has performed widely in North America, Central and South America, Europe, and Japan. Described by critics as a “lyrical” pianist with “impeccable technique” (The Record), she has been heard in prestigious venues worldwide including Carnegie Hall, Salle Gaveau (Paris) and Victoria Hall (Geneva). She has appeared as a concerto soloist with the Philips Symphony Orchestra in Amsterdam, and with the Piracicaba Symphony Orchestra in Brazil. Other highlights of recent seasons have included guest artist appearances at the Toronto Summer festival, Ribadeo International Music Festival (Spain), Bicentenaire CHOPIN (Switzerland), Scotiabank Northern Lights Music Festival (Mexico), Fazioli Piano Pure Series (Chicago) and Distinguished Concerts International (New York).

Following a short intermission, the Wind Ensemble welcomes to the stage Dr. Lacey Powell, the University of South Alabama’s first-ever Director of Bands, to conduct John Philip Sousa’s El Capitan.  John Mackey’s stunning 2010 Hymn to a Blue Hour will follow, with Petersen returning to the stage to lead the group for the rest of the performance. The concert concludes with internationally recognized composer Michael Daugherty’s  thrilling 1997 composition for symphonic band, Niagara Falls.


The University of South Alabama Wind Ensemble

Conducted by Dr. Will Petersen, Director of Bands at the University of South Alabama, the USA Wind Ensemble is the premier instrumental ensemble of the Department of Music.  Open to majors and non-majors alike, the group meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during the fall and spring semesters from 11:15AM to 12:05PM. It performs a mix of the newest compositions for wind ensemble to traditional band masterworks.  The USA Wind Ensemble performs both its regular concert series on campus, and has also been invited to perform at a variety of state and regional conferences throughout its short history.


The University of South Alabama Department of Music

The University of South Alabama Department of Music, through its innovative curriculum, empowers professional musicians, music educators, and those who wish to enrich their lives through the arts.  The Department serves the needs of the University to promote general education and to provide a vital cultural link to the great state of Alabama and to the Gulf Coast region. Its excellent facilities and faculty, promotion of technology, and dedication to life-long learning provide a wide spectrum of experiences for both the student and the community.

Concert Information

Parking: Ample paid street parking is available around the Saenger Theatre as well as parking lots and garages within only a few blocks of the venue. 

Admission: Free and Open to the Public (no ticket required).  Open seating.

Concert Length: Approximate concert length is one hour and 15 minutes.  There will be a 10 minute intermission following Rhapsody in Blue.

Shuttle Service from Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel: Complimentary shuttle service will be available for 2015 All-State Band Members, as well as their directors and chaperones, from the Renaissance Riverview Plaza, the host hotel for 2015 All-State Band Festival.  Shuttle service will begin 90 minutes prior to the concert and also be available immediately following the performance.  The Saenger Theatre is only an eight minute walk from the Renaissance Riverview Plaza and similar walking distance from all downtown hotels.

Reception for Directors: A reception to honor directors from around the state in attendance at the concert will commence in the Saenger Theatre 1927 Room immediately following the performance until 11:00PM.  All directors in attendance at the concert are welcome at the event (complimentary beer and wine as well as light hors d’oevres) to catch up with their former students and meet University of South Alabama faculty and administration.  Information on the reception will be emailed to all members of the Alabama Bandmasters Association and directors are asked to fill out a short online form to RSVP for the reception.

Share on Social Media