Three soloists and a music arranger will perform on Sunday. The soloists are seniors, so the concert is “bittersweet, as it always is,” says Doug Weeks, director of the two organizations and associate department head of Humanities and Arts.
The students are veteran performers in WPI’s music program, having been involved for all their years here, and some are in multiple groups, so Weeks sees some of them almost daily. “You get to know the students and their families when they come to concerts over the years,” he says. “There’s a connection there, and they tend to stay in touch.”
The soloists include band member Greg Stockman (trumpet), and orchestra members Brett Ammeson (clarinet) and Olivia Shraibati (violin). Joseph Heng ’17 arranged “The Extreme” for orchestra.
The concert showcases the soloists, says Weeks; four of the nine performance pieces in the 90-minute program are dedicated to their work.
Ammeson, who looks forward to playing in all kinds of ensembles after graduation, says his solo took about a year and half of work to really hone certain playing techniques. “Performing this is a significant personal achievement representing my musical progress,” he says. “In preparing for this piece, I have spent a lot of time working on really every aspect of playing a musical instrument, whether technical or musical.”
Heng arranged “The Extreme,” a piece of video game music arranged for orchestra, for his Humanities and Arts practicum. Heng says his favorite genre of music is video game music, and Weeks says the arrangement is lively and lends itself to a live performance.
“My arrangement is a good representation of the hard work I have done throughout my WPI career,” says Heng, while he notes that he would still like to tweak the piece even more. “Just like presenting a project in any other class, performing my arrangement will show off how much effort I put into my work and how it has been a great learning experience.”
Weeks says choosing this piece for the concert wasn’t difficult. “It’s an appropriate piece because it happens to be for an orchestra,” he says, noting the Concert Band held a video game music concert earlier this academic year. “It was effective, it worked, and it’s current. The students like to play video game music.”
Violinist Shraibati played for years in the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra before coming to WPI. She is also a member of the Medwin Honor String Quartet and the Symphonic Orchestra, where she is the current concertmaster.
“This concert will be the culmination of years of playing with WPI’s orchestra,” she says. “I think this is the most work I’ve put into preparing for a concert, since I’m performing a solo this term.”
Stockman’s trumpet solo is his final project for his music minor. Involved in Concert Band, Orchestra, Brass Ensemble, Brass Quintet, he has also played in the pit for the WPI musicals. “This concert, and specifically my solo (the Hummel) will be the final capstone needed to complete my minor here at WPI,” Stockman says. “Before coming to college, I was undecided whether I wanted to explore engineering or music as a career, and when I found out that WPI had a strong music department behind their engineering, it only seemed natural that I should come here to do both.”
The concert band selections include “Allegro con spirito” from Hummel’sTrumpet Concerto(Stockman solo); Williams’s “Sea Songs”; Smith’s “Africa: Ceremony, Song, and Ritual”; and Balmages’s “Flight.”
Orchestra selections include Glinka’s “Ruslan and Ludmila”; “Adagio/allegro” from Spohr’s Concerto No. 1 for Clarinet (Ammeson solo); “Allegro moderato” from Bruch’s Concerto for Violin(Shraibati solo); Uematsu’s “The Extreme”(Heng arrangement); and “My Neighbor Totoro” by Hisaishi.
The music department offers a breadth and depth that appeals to student musicians who are often so focused on technical STEM fields, says Weeks.
“This is a wonderful background for humanities at a technical school,” he says. “I hope they have a good artist’s experience and a unique experience here.”
Most of the students who flow through the music program continue to have some kind of musical life outside of their professional lives after graduation, says Weeks. Some, he says, actually go on to professional music careers.
The concert is free and open to all.