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group of musicians on wind ensemble project
group of musicians on wind ensemble project

Project principals include (left to right) Dr. Paula Holcomb, SUNY Fredonia's Director of Bands; Dan Perantoni, tuba; Bernd Gottinger, recording engineer and coordinator of Fredonia's Sound Recording Technology area; Jim Stephenson, composer and producer; and Gail Williams, horn.

  • May 21, 2021
  • Marketing and Communications staff

The Fredonia School of Music has announced details of the final phase of a multi-year recording project by the Fredonia Wind Ensemble.

The effort was funded by The Sorel Medallion in Recording Grant and the Carnahan Jackson Foundation, both through the Fredonia College Foundation, as well as a Sigma Alpha Iota Project Grant.

The wind ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Paula Holcomb, commissioned a work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Augusta Read Thomas, featuring bassoonist Nadina Mackie Jackson, the Canadian Best Classical Album winner in 2020.

Ms. Thomas’ work will be premiered and recorded by the Fredonia Wind Ensemble in April 2022, under the direction of Dr. Holcomb, who is Fredonia’s Director of Bands. The project is a collaboration between the students of the wind ensemble and the school’s Sound Recording Technology area under the direction of Coordinator Bernd Gottinger, a GRAMMY-nominated recording engineer.

The project, which began in 2016, has a primary goal of raising awareness about and filling the need for quality women composers and artists in the wind ensemble genre, as well as showcasing the Fredonia Wind Ensemble and Sound Recording Technology area.

In honoring the vision of the late Claudette Sorel, a piano faculty member in the Fredonia School of Music who was appointed a SUNY Distinguished Professor, the Fredonia Wind Ensemble Recording Project features internationally renowned female composers and artists who provide a diversified voice for the wind ensemble genre. The Sorel Organization’s mission is, “to expand opportunities and stretch the boundaries for women musicians in the fields of conducting, composition, film scoring, performance, arts leadership, education, and scholarship.”

“The genre of wind ensemble music needs a more diversified voice with respect to both composers and performers of quality repertoire,” added Dr. Holcomb. “The need for the female voice is particularly glaring.”

“It is truly an honor to work with the Fredonia Wind Ensemble and Sound Recording Technology department as they rise to meet the challenges of performing and recording with these world-renowned musicians,” commented Dr. Holcomb. “They are relentless in their zeal for excellence and passion for music. With the deepest of gratitude, we thank the [Elizabeth and Michel] Sorel Charitable Organization, Sigma Alpha Iota and Carnahan Jackson organization, who are opening doors for many young musicians at Fredonia while also supporting the development of quality, diverse wind ensemble repertoire."

In addition to the Thomas world premiere, the wind ensemble has completed recording works featuring international artists including Valerie Naranjo, a Native American composer and percussionist for “Saturday Night Live” and Broadway’s “The Lion King;” Gail Williams, former Associate Principal Horn for the Chicago Symphony and National Brass Ensemble; Dan Perantoni, tubist for Summit Brass; Jim Stephenson, a composer who has been commissioned by the Chicago Symphony, Boston Pops, and New York Pops; Sue Fancher of the Amherst, Vienna and Red Clay saxophone quartets; Mark Engebretson, a composer who has received Harvard University’s Fromm and Barlow foundation awards; Dr. Holcomb, who has conducted in 42 states and five continents; and Mr. Gottinger.

“To date, no wind ensemble recording exists with female artists of such renown,” said Holcomb. “Thus, in promoting these female artists, the recording will become a ‘first of its kind.’ Furthermore, by providing young musicians with examples of music of the highest artistic order, written and/or performed by women, the recording project promises to hasten change in the band world.”

Works already recorded for the project include the Pure World West African Concerto for Marimba, Gyil and Wind Ensemble (1939-2007) by Jeno Kakraba Lobi/orchestrated by Andrew Beall, including movements Tierra Pura  - Valarie Naranjo, Fer Barre Kona - Ba-ere Yotere, and Gmeng Sa Na E -  Kakraba Lobi, with Ms. Naranjo on gyil; Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Wind Ensemble​​ by Mr. Engebretson, featuring Ms. Fancher on soprano saxophone; and “Vast and Curious” by Mr. Stephenson, featuring Ms. Williams on horn and Mr. Perantoni on tuba.