Dallas — On Tuesday, the second in the 30-year anniversary concert series for the Dallas Winds was preceded by a fanfare in the lobby of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Guests gathered on the steps leading to the performance hall for an impressive view of the wind ensemble assembled on the arced level above. The composer for Tuesday evening’s appropriately titled fanfare, “Resonances,” was Christian Guillen. In addition to introducing the evening’s concert, the immersive experience created by the lobby fanfare is also an acoustic reminder of the magnificence of the Meyerson.
The title and theme of the program conducted by Jerry Junkin was “American Tapestry,” fashioned as a celebration of the multi-faceted nature of American culture. The first half of the program presented The Wedding of Luis Alonso by Gerónimo Giménez’, Charles Ives’Country Band March, and After These Messages by Richard DeRosa featuring guest Carol Morgan on trumpet.
After These Messages, aptly described as a "sparkling concerto," is an olio of the theme songs from six popular American television shows: St. Elsewhere, Moonlighting, Taxi, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Greatest American Hero and The Carol Burnett Show. Morgan’s most impressive stylings occurred during Moonlighting and it was easy to understand why the composer decided to showcase her through this composition. The most successful performance in the Messages series was The Greatest American Hero. DeRosa’s composition was harmonically and texturally interesting and was received by the audience with audible sounds of pleasant remembrances. Their strongest reactions were to “Love is All Around” from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and “I’m So Glad" from The Carol Burnett Show.
There were some uneven moments during the first half of the program, but the second half of the program was the most polished, employing more of the dynamic shadings, clean attacks and crispness missing from the first half. This was a challenging program and required a conductor with Junkin’s depth of knowledge and understanding of the literature, and conducting skills. Junkin’s deftly guided the ensemble through The Ringmaster’s March by John Mackey, Suite of Old American Dances by Robert Russell Bennett, and Trittico by Vaclav Nelhybel. The performance of Suite of Old American Dances was dedicated to icon and beloved band conductor Frederick Fennell. Fennell conducted Trittico at the Meyerson in 1992 and the recording was released in 1993, a fact that Junkin shared with the audience. It was obvious that the ensemble enjoyed this piece and that the conductor appreciated every nuance of the score. Under his leadership the number was tightly performed, highlighting the solos in the Adagio, which were gorgeous. This was an excellent choice as a closing number.
Highlights of the evening were the percussionists, who were consistently outstanding throughout the program. Not only were they the pulse of the ensemble, but they played with joy and verve. Moving back and forth across the back, switching between instruments, they looked as if they were having fun, and that is something audiences love to see. Also notable were the French horns. This is one of the more difficult instruments to play and coordinating within a section to produce a unified clean, pure sound is not easy. They had some nice moments, specifically in After These Messages and in the adagio of Trittico.
It was, as conductor Junkin described it, a “bandy evening”—meaning the celebration of music for bands and that was a perfect match for the attending audience.