The Miami University Wind Ensemble gathered a large audience Wednesday night as they teamed up with world famous euphonium player Adam Frey to premiere new work in Hall Auditorium.
After starting the concert with Roger Nixon’s triumphant Centennial Fanfare March, the ensemble members quickly set up for the main event, the world premiere of Eric Knechtges’ “Aporia”, which featured frey as a soloist.
“You are about to hear euphonium playing like you’ve never heard before,” conductor Gary Speck told the audience before welcoming Frey to the stage.
Donning a white, Chinese Mao suit jacket, Frey entered to roaring applause and snaps from members of Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI), the music fraternity that played a major role in getting Frey to come to Miami. Of particular importance was senior Shannon Reed.
“I had been speaking with my chapter of SAI and we wanted to bring in an artist to do a residency since it’s the year of the arts,” Reed said, who plays euphonium in the Wind Ensemble. “We wanted to give people an idea of what life as a performer is like. Adam Frey is one of my favorite artists, so I got in contact with him and things started coming together.”
“Aporia” began with a big disjunct explosion resolving to an ethereal, droning accompaniment by the ensemble as Frey came in over chiming bells.
From that point on, it seemed as if his fingers never stopped moving. His delicate performance entranced the audience throughout the final chimes that ended the piece, leaving the entire auditorium in complete silence before erupting in applause.
Knechtges was able to attend the performance and stood for his fair share of recognition at the end but could not stop clapping himself.
After both the soloist and conductor left the stage Speck quickly returned, much to the confusion of the ensemble and the audience alike.
“Would you guys like to hear Adam play something else?” Speck asked the audience, receiving confirmation through the thunderous applause.
Frey’s encore was what he described as a rock and funk piece that allowed him to imitate an electric guitar on the euphonium. As he held the final note he produced a soft whistle through the instrument, garnering a chuckle from the audience.
The remainder of the concert was a collection of works by Percy Aldridge Grainger. Of particular interest were “Children’s March”, which featured members of the ensemble singing a subtle tune during the piece, and “The Duke of Marlborough Fanfare,” beginning with an offstage, muted horn solo.
While the collection was a pleasant conclusion to the concert, it was clear the piece the audience would be talking about afterwards was “Aporia.”
According to Reed, Frey’s visit was made possible through Associated Student Government funding and “Aporia” was a donation to Miami from Knechtges.
“It was a long process but overall, as long as I made sure deadlines were met, everything worked out really well,” Reed said. “It really isn’t hard to do this sort of thing. As soon as everyone agreed, it went pretty spectacularly.”