This Sunday, February 11th at 3:00pm at The Lutheran Church of the Cross, the Winnipeg Wind Ensemble will be presenting their second concert of the 2023-24 season.

Called Light and Shadow, this concert explores the joys and darker moments of the human experience; everything from deep emotional loss to the blisses of experiencing the simple things in life.

Music from such esteemed wind band composers and conductors, as Eric Whitacre, Franck Tichelli, and David Maslanka and others will be performed by one of the premier Wind Ensembles here on the prairies.

Virginia Helmer is the Director of the Winnipeg Wind Ensemble. The theme of the concert came from the musical selections that she had in mind that she wanted to perform. As she explains, “It’s always the pieces that come first. I have a few things in mind that I’d like to do, and then I kind of flesh out the program. I might have a bunch of pieces in a season that I want to do…and if they seem to be grouped well then I would go with that for a theme. You also have to be careful with a theme that you don’t end with a bunch of things that sound similar.”

Similarity is not an issue with this upcoming concert. Helmer has selected a beautiful and diverse program that is a wonderful survey of the dark and lightness of existence.

Interestingly there are two pieces on the program that have very similar titles. The ensemble will be performing an arrangement of the renowned American composer Eric Whitacre’s piece Lux Aurumqure (Light Gold) and David Maslanka’s Golden Light.

Maslanka’s ‘Golden Light’ is inspired by the walks that Maslanka would take in Inwood Park in Manhattan, and in particular, the light that would shine through the trees as he walked. Maslanka was a huge name in wind band world. He passed away in 2017. As Helmer states, “He was an absolute genius. His music is always very complex and interesting on an intellectual level as well a son every other level. Just a really deep thinker and very, very accomplished composer.”

Eric Whitacre’s ‘Lux Aurumque’ (Light Gold) is an arrangement of his previous choral work. Whitacre effectively communicates the original text by changing wind ensemble musical colors and textures. “It works really well for wind ensemble. Instead of having the change of mood and context be a word, it has to be a color,” explains Helmer.

One of the more emotionally moving and darker pieces on the program is music written by the composer Peter Meechan. Meechan is originally from England but now lives in Winnipeg. The Ensemble is playing his piece ‘Let this Place’ which was written for the Vincent Massey Collegiate Wind Ensemble and their conductor Matt Abraham. The music is inspired by the plague at Auschwitz-Birkenau that reads:

For ever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity, where the Nazis murdered about one and half million men, women and children, mainly Jews from various countries of Europe. Auschwitz-Birkenau 1940-1945

The piece was written with Vincent Massey students very much in mind. As Helmer explains “It was really great for him [Meechan] to be able to collaborate with Vincent Massey because he got to know the kids there… he felt like this is what they were looking for...the high school students were sort of questioning, the state of the world and why these things are happening.” Helmer goes on to state that “The deeper edge of the theme of this concert is definitely what’s happening with our world today and how can music contribute to enlightening the issues and help us get along together.”

What better reason to take in some fantastic music performed by this outstanding ensemble?

The Winnipeg Wind Ensemble’s Concert on Sunday, February 11th at 3:00pm at The Lutheran Church of the Cross at 3:00 pm is sure to be something very, very special.

For more details you can go to the Winnipeg Wind Ensemble’s Website.