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Wind Ensemble performs music inspired by the number five

Bruce Engel leads the Stony Brook Wind Ensemble during the performance. (Nina Lin)
Bruce Engel leads the Stony Brook Wind Ensemble during the performance. (Nina Lin)

The Stony Brook Wind Ensemble, led by Bruce Engel, brought the main stage at the Staller Center alive with energy and enthusiasm throughout its performance on April 24. The theme of the wind ensemble’s concert was the number five.

The wind ensemble is made up of a diverse group of people, including music majors, music teachers, graduate student teaching assistants, students who play for fun and even members of the local community. They all gather to perform a concert twice a year in November and April.

“The group is composed of all different levels, and they work so well together—it is pretty incredible,” Engle said. “We were very thrilled with the concert.”

Engle has been the conductor for the Stony Brook Wind Ensemble for almost 20 years. For every concert, he picks a central theme that connects all the compositions that are performed.

“When he first announced the theme was five, I thought it was a little bit of a stretch and I thought, ‘alright what is the program going to be,’” Cheryl Mittler, flautist in the ensemble and a graduate student at SBU, said. “But when he announced the program, I have to say this was one of my most favorite programs.”

The night started off with a composition by Johann Sebastian Bach entitled “Little Fugue.” This was followed by “The Planets: Mars and Jupiter,” by Gustav Holst, who was inspired by his love of astronomy.

After a brief intermission, the ensemble continued with “Symphony No. 6, Pathetique,” by Peter I. Tchaikovsky, which was followed by “Dartmoor, 1912,” by John Williams from the motion picture “War Horse.” The ensemble then closed with Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Finale from the Symphony No. 5.”

“My favorite piece was the finale because I was very surprised by the difficulty of the piece and I thought the melody was really nice,” Omar Khan, sophomore and biology major at SBU, said.

The final composition brought the concert to an end on a high note.

Mittler explained that this final piece was one of her favorites. “The Shostakovich piece was very exciting, vibrant and so different from what we normally play,” she said.

This performance by the wind ensemble was the first time that three encores have ever been performed.

“Take Five,” a jazz piece written by Paul Desmond and made famous by The Dave Brubeck Quartet, was the first encore, followed by “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue.”

The encore wrapped up with the jazz piece “Mission Impossible.”

Engle plans on spending his summer figuring out the themes for the next year’s performances.

“Next year, I am thinking of having a theme based on pieces written for keyboard, which were transcribed for wind ensemble,” Engle said.

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