Symphony musician, alumnus to perform with Fredonia Wind Ensemble

Richard Nunemaker

Richard Nunemaker

By Roger Coda

Richard Nunemaker, a symphony musician, concert soloist and educator who compiled a storied career that includes four decades with the Houston Symphony Orchestra after graduating from Fredonia, will return to campus to perform with the Fredonia Wind Ensemble.

The concert on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. in King Concert Hall will mark the culmination of a three-day residency by Mr. Nunemaker and Houston Symphony colleague Arthur Gottschalk at the School of Music.

A highlight of the concert, which is free and open to the public, is the world premiere of “Hacksaw,” a piece with Nunemaker as the featured soloist on bass clarinet and the wind ensemble. It was written for Nunemaker by Dr. Gottschalk, professor of Music Theory and Composition at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, who will offer commentary on the piece at the concert.

“Richard Nunemaker has been very successful in the classical music world, performing with top orchestras of the world, including the Houston Symphony,” said Fredonia Wind Ensemble Director Paula Holcomb. “To achieve that level of success is certainly a huge credit to him, and for us to be able to claim him as a Fredonia graduate is a great honor.”

Opening the concert will be “Fanfare for the Common Man,” composed in the 1940s by Aaron Copland to rally Americans against imperialism during World War II. It was introduced to a new audience decades later by progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and has also served as a frequent television and sports theme.

Joan Tower’s “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman,” which was inspired by the Copland piece and dedicated to women who take risks and who are adventurous, “Adagio,” by Joaquin Rodrigo, and “Nimrod,” from Elgar’s “Enigma Variations,” will follow.

The concluding selection will feature trombones and several soloists in Carlos Simon’s rousing “Amen!” Inspired by growing up in Pentecostal churches, Simon’s intent was to recreate the musical experience of an African American Pentecostal church service that he enjoyed being part of while growing up.

For Holcomb, it’s a great honor for the School of Music to have Nunemaker commission a piece specifically for Fredonia’s wind ensemble. Now retired and living in the Buffalo area, Nunemaker has been extremely generous with his time, frequently returning to campus to work with the clarinet choir and other ensembles.

“He is the epitome of a wonderful alumnus who is giving back to his college, offering his expertise and love of music and live experiences to students,” Holcomb said.

Both musical guests will attend wind ensemble rehearsals on Thursday and Friday. Gottschalk will also conduct a master class with Music Composition students on Saturday.

The career of Nunemaker, a Buffalo native, has run the gamut from managing his own dance bands in high school to being in the pit for New York road show productions that include “West Side Story,” “My Fair Lady” and “South Pacific.” Nunemaker played clarinet, bass clarinet and saxophone with the Houston Symphony Orchestra for over 40 years and was also a member of the Houston Latin American Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Civic Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra and Erie (Pa.) Philharmonic Orchestra.

A current member of the Erie County Wind Ensemble, Cheektowaga Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Niagara Concert Band, Nunemaker continues to perform as a featured soloist at recitals and with symphony orchestras around the country.

Nunemaker received a B.S. in Music Education and a Performer’s Certificate from Fredonia in 1964 and a M.M. from the University of Louisville, where he is also an Alumni Fellow.

Gottschalk served as a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome and received the Meritorious Service Award, the highest honor for a non-graduate of Rice University, from the Association of Rice Alumni.

Among numerous awards, Gottschalk’s “Concerto for Violin and Symphonic Winds” won first prize in the XXV Concorso Internazionale di Composizione Originale (Italy).

Gottschalk received a D.M.A in Music Composition, a M.A. in Music Composition and English Literature and a B.M. in Music Composition, all from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

The Wind Ensemble features the most outstanding wind and percussion players of the School of Music.