St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf Band performs at national conference

STOBand375x250As part of a two-day tour to the East Coast, the St. Olaf Band performed at the College Band Directors National Association Conference in North Carolina on Thursday and then brought a piece composed by one of their own, Jesse Brault ’13, to an audience in Virginia on Friday.

St. Olaf Band Conductor Timothy Mahr ’78 says being asked to perform at the national conference is a tremendous honor.

“This invitation affirms that the musical endeavors we have been making over the years are indeed noteworthy and rightfully have a place on a national stage,” he says. “More than anything, I think the adjudication panel responded to the heart and soul they heard coming through in performance. I’m extremely proud of these musicians.”

Following the performance at the national conference, the St. Olaf Band delivered a concert in Chester, Virginia. There the ensemble performed a piece that Brault composed last summer as part of St. Olaf’s Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry program.

Brault composed the piece, titled Illuminatio (Latin for “enlightening”), with Mahr’s guidance. The piece, which features Associate Professor of Music Kent McWilliams as a soloist on piano, commences with a chord featuring all 12 notes of the chromatic scale, embodying musically the idea of being totally aware. The piano then plays a descending progression that symbolizes going deeper into that awareness. Such symbolic gestures abound within the piece.

“In Illuminatio, I attempted to musically explore what it might mean to become aware through studying the liberal arts. Fundamentally, I think the liberal arts ask the same basic question about human existence, but in many different ways,” says Brault. “Illuminatio embodies this plurality of perspective with many different variations of a single musical idea.”

The St. Olaf Band premiered the piece under Brault’s baton during a March 18 performance in Minnesota. The ensemble will perform the piece again during an April 7 concert on campus.

“The piece is distinguished by detailed, sophisticated musical materials and orchestration,” Mahr says. “The piece is in and of itself worthy of these performances, it gives Jesse a chance to conduct and experience the work multiple times, and featuring Kent McWilliams as a soloist will be a highlight of these concerts.”