The University of North Carolina School of the Arts Chamber Winds and Wind Ensemble welcomed guests to the Stevens Center for an evening of music that they titled Inspiration, Imitation, and Flattery. The performance included a wide variety of pieces, from recent works to old classics, that showcased the ensembles talent.

The opening work included selections from Kurt Weill‘s Three Penny Opera. Led by guest conductor Timothy Heath, the second movement, “The Ballad of Mack the Knife,” had the audience tapping their toes and bopping their heads to the beat with its bouncy, staccato rhythms and driving energy. It used muted trombone to add to the piece’s unusual tone, as well as solos from varying instruments. “Polly’s Song,” the fifth song from this work, brought in a new style for the concert. It incorporated legato phrasing that had the audience relaxed in their seats, but still enraptured by the ensemble. The use of guitar in this piece strengthened the effect of this laid back, well-balanced tune. The flute and clarinet in particular soared above the ensemble during the melodic passages. The next movement, “Tango Ballad,” sent the energy into the clouds. As the name suggests, this piece uses Spanish rhythms and phrases. I found myself, as well as others in the crowd, subtly dancing in my seat to this exciting tune.

Jaren Atherholt, faculty oboe soloist, greatly impacted the audience in “Serenade for Kristin” by Frank Ticheli. This piece begins in a disarray of emotions, giving off unsettled and confused feelings. As the soloist cried out, her feelings of longing radiated throughout the concert hall. The main melody enters, and so does a more hopeful and joyous outlook. Atherholt played beautifully as she tackled this transition. The return to the opening motif was welcomed kindly by the crowd. By the end of the song, the audience was on their feet in appreciation and in awe. Simply put, words cannot do this piece justice.

After the intermission, the ensemble jumped back in with full force with James Curnow’s “Canticle of the Creatures.” This is a well-known six-movement suite that uses word painting to create a scene for the audience. Each movement was unique, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. The ensemble effortlessly transitioned between each movement, grasping the style and tempo with ease. The conductor, Mark Norman, guided the band with confidence and grace as this tune came to a close.

The show ended with Danzón No. 2 by Arturo Marquez. This piece was a hit with the crowd! The group passed around the main motif, using individual solos to highlight the beautiful melody. The piece began slow and sultry as it slowly moved into a more passionate and exciting sound. As the classic Latin rhythm took over the music, a scene of two dancers was set for the audience. The music continued into a smooth, legato section, in which the intensity grew to imitate the beginning of the piece. The audience was enveloped by the warm, buttery tone of the ensemble. They quickly jumped into a lively and proud section, taking the crowd by surprise. The low brass and double bass sang out above the ensemble, bringing the intensity to an all-time high. The Latin rhythms could be heard loud and clear as the pandemonium continued. As soon as the piece ended, the audience cheered and applauded the hard work of the musicians.