NIU Wind Ensemble plays 1st concert in newly restored hall

By Lynn Hammarstrom

The NIU Wind Ensemble will perform its first concert tonight in the newly renovated Boutell Memorial Concert Hall, located in the Music Building.

The concert will be directed by NIU Wind Ensemble Conductor Stephen Squires and will feature NIU music Professor Ron Modell as guest trumpet soloist.

The concert, which is free to all NIU students and faculty, will begin at 8 p.m.

Squires, who also serves as the director for NIU’s Wind Symphony and as conductor for the Illinois Chamber Orchestra of St. Charles, has received the “Downbeat” (music magazine’s) award for the country’s best university wind ensemble last year, Modell said.

Modell’s performance will be included in the “Concerto for Trumpet and Wind Orchestra,” composed by retired Indiana University professor of music composition Bernard Heiden.

“It’s very exciting to be performing this work,” Modell said. “This will be the first time that the piece has been performed in this area. It’s very happy music, similar in type to the music of Hindemith.

Modell, the founder and director of NIU’s award-winning Jazz Ensemble, has been the principle trumpet for the Tulsa Philharmonic, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Civic Opera and the Tulsa Opera Company. He also has conducted the orchestras of such artists as Louie Bellson, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bob Newhart and played lead trumpet for Tony Bennett, Vic Damone, Billy Eckstine and Della Reese.

The Wind Ensemble, which holds two concerts each school year, features 45 NIU student musicians. Ensemble members are chosen at open auditions held the first week of each new semester, said ensemble coordinator Kirk Lundbeck.

“We had a lot of students audition this semester,” he said. “There must have been between 80 and 90 musicians there.”

There will be four pieces performed at tonight’s concert, Lundbeck said. “There’s no tie between them; they are all quite different. We like to do a variety of works in order to educate both the audience and the performers.”

Pieces to be performed tonight will be American composer Vincent Persichetti’s “Symphony No. 3,” Jacques Casterede’s “Divertissment D’ete,” a tribute to the sea and the fishermen who make it their home, and “Symphony No. 2 for Band” by composer John Barnes Chance.