What an amazing night of music! It’s about an hour after the world premier of Wine-Dark Sea : Symphony for Band by the gifted John Mackey and my mind is still reeling. If you weren’t fortunate enough to attend this concert as part of the TMEA Convention then you missed a truly amazing musical experience that one doesn’t often experience.
Let me start by saying that Jerry Junkin and The University of Texas Wind Ensemble mesmerized an auditorium full of music educators this evening and left them inspired by the level of musical artistry achieved by these amazing university students. The musicality and technical abilities of this ensemble are first-class. Network by Kevin Puts was fantastic and the amazing virtuoso of Marianne Gedigian performing Lowell Liebermann’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra was a joy to witness. But the highlight of the evening was the new work by John Mackey.
Wine-Dark Sea : Symphony for Band is a programmatic work (commissioned by Jerry Junkin and The University of Texas Wind Ensemble in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Butler School of Music) based on the story of Odysseus as found in Homer’s The Odyssey. For more on the background of the piece, click here.
I can only tell you that the compositional genius of Mackey in conveying this story through music is stunning. Sometimes we encounter programmatic music that seems trite and unimaginative, but not this piece! The themes were beautiful, creative, and treated with the utmost thought and care as they are woven throughout. The tonal pallet was inspiring and colorful. The percussion was truly impressive and robust. The work was powerful and thrilling while also providing beautiful moments of emotion and introspection.
I truly can’t wait to listen to this piece again (hopefully with a score) to further analyze all the wonderful little moments that make the music of John Mackey so magical. After the concert Mackey was so humble and more than willing to sign autographs, pose for pictures, and answer questions while discussing his music…he’s truly a class act!
If you have an opportunity to hear this work performed, don’t miss out. Mackey managed to capture lightning in a bottle with this one, and listeners will definitely not be disappointed!
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