Critique on Wind Ensemble’s Final Concert

On Sunday April 23, the University of Jamestown Wind Ensemble performed their final concert for the year. As a tuba player in the ensemble, I am going to be a little harsh with my judgment on this performance, because I know I and others could have done better.

Friday, April 21 2023,

Before I critique the performance, I’d like to give a little background on what we had to do to get this show ready. When we first got our music, it was about 2 months ago. We were very excited for new music, but the music looked a lot harder than we have previously performed. With a water/sea theme, Dr. Jason Kihle, found 6 pieces that we would perform. Each one harder than the other, we got to work. With it being Dr. Kihle’s first year as active director for the University of Jamestown, I can confidentially say that we have improved. With that being said, he wanted to push us further, as any good teacher would. With such a short notice for the next concert and Dr. Kihle expectations, we were feeling a ton of pressure. But, because we have vastly improved since last year, we were able to make it to concert day.

Sunday, April 23 2023,

I could feel the nervousness backstage, everyone was either happy that we made it this far, or absolutely terrified that we were not going to do well. Before a performance the band always has 1 hour before the show to practice or tweak any parts in any songs. We knew it was going to be a rough concert when we were learning a part in one of our songs for the first time. After the practice we all went backstage and really started to feel the nerves hit. No one was happy anymore. We did our affirmations, then we hit the stage. Dr. Kihle came out and look at all of us and said “breathe”. He stool on his pedestal and raised his hands. We began to play “Blue Lake Overture” (one of our hardest songs). We ease and elegance we play each note. A few mistakes here and there, but no band is perfect. We finish the song and I think to myself “That is the best we have ever played that song.” There is something about the stage, about performance day, that locks our minds into high gear and ultra focus. Up next we played “Undertow”, one of our weaker pieces. A concoction of 7/8 and 4/4 time, that challenged us to feel the rhythm. Again, not quite as strong as “Blue Lake Overture”, but still the best we have played. “Cantus (Song of Night), my personal favorite, a mix of slow and powerful phrases of beautiful music. I feel we have always have played this song well, not just because we can play it well, but because we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Then we play “The River With One Bank” (our longest and hardest pieces), this was the song that we had learned the ending only an hour before the performance. It went WAY better than any of us could have ever imagined. People who have never hit the right notes before, finally hit those notes. People who have never played their crescendos and decrescendos correctly, finally did so and so on. One of our last pieces was “Riptides”. A great song about waves and water and the harsh rapids. This was our best piece, and we played it as such. Obviously everything I am saying is in high praise of the Wind Ensemble, and I may be very bias. But, I believe that with how little time we had to put this show together, we did very well, and I am very proud of all players. What would be a Dr. Kihle concert without a marching band song. Our final song was “Hands Across the Sea” (our easiest song). We were very happy the hard part of the concert was over, so playing “Hands” was a treat.

Overall, the University of Jamestown Wind Ensemble did very well. I believe this was not our strongest concert, but one that we have learned a lot from.

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