Schneiders and Evenson honored at wind symphony

The Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts was full of symphonic sound on Tuesday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m. The Southeastern Wind Symphony gave tribute to the lives of Marietta Reimers Schneider and Hans Schneider, long-time patrons of the arts, especially of Southeastern music.

Along with the Schneiders, Dr. David Evenson, head of the fine and performing arts department, was honored for retirement from Southeastern after 32 years. Director of Bands Dr. Glen J. Hemberger conducted the night’s events, along with guest conductor Rossi DiBenedetto, a graduate student in music performance.

The program began with the introduction of Hemberger and the Wind Symphony by Master of Ceremonies Reimer Priester. The concert then started off the night with “Festive Overture, Op. 96,” by Dmitri Shostakovich, and” Pequeña Czarda,” by Pedro Iturralde, which featured Vitalie Gumeniuc on the saxophone. Gumeniuc is a junior music education major, a recipient of the Hans Schneider Excellence in Music scholarship and also the winner of the 2011 Kappa Kappa Psi/Wind Symphony Concerto Competition.

A trio of trumpeters was highlighted in the piece “Bugler’s Holiday,” composed by Leroy Anderson. Junior Thomas Huckaby, junior David Kraus and senior David Will led the symphony along with Hemberger.

“Rest,” by Frank Ticheli, and “Kingfishers Catch Fire,” by John Mackey, prefaced the tribute to the Schneiders. Hemberger and Dr. Kenneth Boulton on piano led “Concerto for Piano and Wind Symphony,” by Richard Prior. Boulton is the assistant professor of piano and the interim director of the Columbia Theatre.

“The opportunity to perform Richard Prior’s piano concerto with the Southeastern Wind Symphony was an honor on many levels,” said Boulton. “It has long been a dream of mine to collaborate with Dr. Hemberger’s marvelous ensemble. The intensity and precision he demands of the group makes performing with them both powerful and intimate. I felt completely at ease and free throughout the work, and that’s very unusual.”

Fay and Phelan Bright commissioned the concerto for Fay’s parents, the Schneiders. The piece describes how the Schneiders met in Germany, the growth of their relationship and their flight from Europe as World War II crept near. The second arc of the piece tells of a journey taken from Chile to New Zealand, circumnavigating Antarctica.

“There are only a few noteworthy works for the combination of solo piano and wind symphony, so Richard Prior’s work stands out as a piece that deserves to be in the regular repertoire of pianists looking for occasions such as this,” said Boulton.

A brief intermission was taken before the finale of the concert, which included “Song for Lindsay,” by Andrew Boyson, Jr., and the “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” a suite of orchestral selections from the popular musical. From “West Side Story,” notable pieces played were “Somewhere,” “Mambo” and “Cha-Cha.”

“I was moved to be able to help give tribute to three individuals who mean so much to Southeastern, and to me personally,” said Boulton. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that Fay and Phelan Bright love and support the music program in virtually every way possible, while David Evenson has been a valued friend, mentor and colleague of mine since I came to Southeastern. They deserve every accolade possible.”

For more information about upcoming events at the Columbia Theatre, visit their Web site at www.columbiatheatre.org.