Cornell Winds Finish With a Flourish

February 5, 2010

Among the highlights of the Cornell University Wind Ensemble’s recent tour of music schools in Costa Rica were its public concerts and donation of 95 wind instruments to music schools in San Pedro de Poás, Pavas, Desamparados, San Isidro de El General and Limón. The 45 young musicians made the rafters of San José’s Metropolitan Cathedral ring, drawing in passersby who swelled the appreciative audience. The band also performed at EARTHUniversity in Guácimo and at a retirement home in San José.

The band’s grand finale was a benefit concert for the Canadian Charitable Association, held Jan. 20 at the Eugene O’Neill Theater in eastern San José. The older, more sophisticated audience of mostly expats took a while to warm up, but the band’s magnificent rendition of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” medley sealed the deal. There was not a dry eye in the place during a slide show of the band’s tour, which was synchronized to the majestic, moving music of American composer Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium.”

The band then changed pace from mystic to modern, with the energetic “Concertino for Four Percussionists” by David Gillingham, and a medley from “The Wiz,” the Broadway musical that once starred a young Michael Jackson. This last piece prompted a standing ovation, led by a group of appreciative students from the CountryDay School. The concert continued with a delightful rendition of Jacques Offenbach’s “Ballet Parisien,” featuring innovative choreography by the students, including dancing tubas, which brought the audience to its feet again. The applause didn’t stop until the band took up its instruments for a rousing encore: “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” John Philip Sousa’s classic march featuring a perky piccolo.

–Lyn Statten

Canadian Charitable Association

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