The Weber State music department proved itself Thursday Night in a concert featuring a top-notch wind ensemble, a brilliant young pianist, a promising young conductor and an alumnus who expanded the clarinet's expressive possibilities.
Pianist Chantelle Kanton, a graduating senior, played the Khachaturian piano concerto with flawless technique and a tasteful passion worthy of the moody, oft-times pentatonic piece. She expressed the piece's emotion with a variety of different touches, and her cadenzas highlighted the piece's brooding mood swings and fascinating harmonies. Kudos to Nathan Hofheins for his brilliant wind-ensemble arrangement of the piece.Under the direction of Thomas Root, the Wind Ensemble shone with precision, synergy and expression, especially in Frank Ticheli's quirky and rhythmically infectious "Blue Shades."
The Symphonic Band's highlight was Ralph Vaughn Williams' English Folk Song Suite, conducted by Weber State junior Jennifer Clark. Clark seemed to have the orchestra on a taut string as she lead them from the bombastic forte passages to the tender mezzo pianos with a slight flick of her hand.
The evening's capper was WSU alum Lee Hammons' rendition of Frank Bencrescuto's "Concertino for Clarinet and Band." Having the piece memorized, he swayed like Wayne Shorter on soprano sax. The piece alternates between tense pulsating passages and moments of introspection, and Hammons shone in both styles, playing the runs with a delicate yet strong lucidity and the slow passages with poetic soul.