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Published October 29, 2020
The University of Wyoming’s Wind Symphony will present “Heritage of the Band” -- a virtual concert Thursday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m.
The concert will be a mix of live and prerecorded performances. Those interested in watching the free event can go to www.uwyo.edu/music/upcoming_performances/ for a link to the concert.
“It has been challenging to plan a balanced repertory with room capacity restrictions,” says Conductor Robert Belser, a professor in the UW Department of Music. “But, we feel we have a great mix of the genres and music that has made the concert band one of the most creative endeavors in today’s musical arts world.”
He says the most challenging aspect is the increased social distancing from 6 feet to 10 feet for wind players due to musicians blowing air through the instruments. The musicians also have been provided with musicians masks and bell covers for the brass section to create the safest possible performing environment for the students and faculty.
Limitations onstage are for a maximum of 18 players, and the challenge was choosing music that could work with one-third of the usual number of players, says Belser, now in his 26th year as director of bands. A 20-minute break between changes of personnel also is required.
“We are recording two works to plug into those 20-minute breaks, plus I will talk about the music as I usually do between numbers from the stage,” Belser says.
Outstanding musicians who graduated last spring and those who will graduate this semester also will be recognized during the breaks.
“Our audience will see a mix of live performances with prerecorded performances and talks -- kind of like what ‘Live from Lincoln Center’ viewers expect on TV broadcasts,” Belser says.
While the reduction in capacity allowances in classrooms and performance stages poses a challenge for live or “mask-to-mask” courses, UW’s Department of Music has been innovative in creating a safe environment for on-campus learning and engaging in remote teaching to make the experience as close to normal as possible, he adds.
“I arranged and adapted about half of the literature specifically for the talent of our musicians, as well as choosing some chamber music we have wanted to perform even before the COVID era,” Belser says. “It was time-consuming, but was well worth it. I am pleased with the way the students have met the challenge.”
Some of the pieces to be performed will be from Aaron Copland, Richard Wagner, Beethoven, Mozart and John Philip Sousa.
The Wind Symphony will record holiday music for the coming season and concerts for next spring in a virtual format.
The Wind Symphony is among the performing bands -- along with the Symphonic Band, Community Concert Band, Western Thunder Marching Band and the Cowgirl and Cowboy pep bands -- in UW’s Department of Music. Belser and Joseph Carver, an assistant professor of music and director of the marching and athletic bands, are UW’s conductors.
For more information about future performances, visit www.uwyo.edu/music/upcoming_performances/.