It is unusual to see an electric guitar included in a wind band, so it takes a little extra effort if you play electric guitar and want to audition for the University of Maine’s Symphonic Band. This past summer UMaine School of Performing Arts senior music education major and electric guitar player, Blake Ford went to Symphonic Band Director, Chris White and asked if there was any music written for an electric guitar solo in wind band. White was sure they could find something so he and Ford did some research online and found a piece, Chaos Theory 3.0 Concerto for Electric Guitar and Wind Orchestra by composer, sound designer and guitarist, Jim Bonney. The Chaos piece was originally commissioned by the UNLV Wind Orchestra and premiered May 30, 2000. Bonney describes his concept, “In this piece, I wanted to fuse progressive hard rock intensity with classical sophistication. Because of its variety of tonal color and wide dynamic range, I believe the electric guitar has a role in contemporary concert music.”
White was excited to include the piece for the upcoming December 6 concert, “We have a very large number of guitar majors in our department and it exposes the guitar majors to the wind band medium and the wind band players get exposed to the guitar players, it is a wonderful learning collaboration”.
In fact, it is so unusual to have an electric guitar player in Symphonic Band that there are no auditions for that instrument. Ford had to audition on percussion to earn his seat in the elite group.
“Having never performed as a featured electric guitarist in a full wind band setting, this opportunity has given me a new challenge that will benefit my musical background and the diversity of the Symphonic Band experience”, says Ford. Fellow band member, flute player and sophomore political science major, Mary Kate Bickford describes her relationship with the piece, “It is unlike any piece I have ever played before, the eighth note patterns are quite unique for flute music and the flutter tones are particularly fun to hear and play. My favorite part of the piece is the guitar cadenza. For my flute part, there are some good contrasts where we become loud and then we blend with the rest of the ensemble.”
The Symphonic Band is an auditioned group of forty-five of the best wind and percussion musicians at the University of Maine. They perform concerts both on and off campus including an annual spring tour through the state. The Symphonic Band has performed in Symphony Hall in Boston and Merrill Hall in Portland.
Along with this slightly unique piece, the Symphonic Band will be performing works by Clifton Williams, R. Vaughan Williams, Dana Wilson, Johan Halvorsen, Frank Ticheli and R. B. Hall.
The concert will be held on Thursday, December 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Collins Center for the Arts, on the University of Maine campus in Orono. Tickets are $12 or free with a student MaineCard, they can be purchased at the Collins Center for the Arts box office or at the door prior to the performance.