Butler Wind Ensemble to premiere two pieces

The Butler University Wind Ensemble will premiere two new pieces by faculty composers Frank Felice and Michael Schelle in the Schrott Center next Thursday.

Both pieces challenge the traditional meaning of a revolution by society’s standards.

Led by band director Robert Grechesky, the concert is part of the two-week Butler ArtsFest.

Felice’s piece, “Revolution Calling,” represents an atypical way of thinking about what a revolution can be.

Felice cites the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as inspirational in composing a piece to fit the theme of revolution.

“It became a way for me to be a part of the festival, to honor Schrott, but also to say revolution can also be spiritual,” Felice said. “My point is to say Christ’s life, death and resurrection are first and foremost the biggest revolution, but nobody thinks about it like that.”

The piece is scored for double brass choir, percussion and fixed media, which includes narration from John 5:24 in numerous different languages.

Felice hopes the surround sound speakers in the Schrott Center will enhance the audience’s experience during his piece.

“It’s a very visceral piece,” Felice said. “I wanted to grab everyone’s attention with this.”

Schelle will premiere a new chamber ensemble orchestration of his 1991 song cycle “Struwwelpeter.”

The inspiration for the original song cycle came from Heinrich Hoffmann’s 19th-century German children’s book by the same name.

The stories were meant to teach children moral lessons through extremely exaggerated results of misbehavior.

Schelle’s parents read him and his siblings these stories when they were children.

“They’re very tough,” Schelle said. “They’re like Grimms’ Fairy Tales multiplied by five.”

The piece became a dedication to his parents, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1991.

“Those poems meant so much to me,” Schelle said. “Hearing these stories sort of made me what I am.”

Schelle even used stories from “Struwwelpeter” to teach himself German when he was studying for  his doctorate.

The ensemble’s performance of “Struwwelpeter” includes tenor soloist Steven Stolen, former chair of the School of Music.

The performance of “Struwwelpeter” will be theatrical and vivid, Schelle said.

“My piece is kind of spitting in the face of traditional song cycles,” Schelle said.

Following the theme of revolution, the wind ensemble will also be performing Karel Husa’s “Music for Prague 1968.”

Husa wrote the piece to commemorate events following the Prague Spring, in which the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress democratic reform.

The piece is a standard in band repertoire.

“It’s considered the ‘Beethoven’s Fifth’ of the band world,” Schelle said.

Grechesky said he is thrilled to be premiering the works of two faculty composers.

“It’s been a wonderful, collegial process from the very beginning with immediate feedback,” Grechesky said. “We’re not only colleagues, but we’re friends too.”

Student tickets for the concert are $7.50.

The Butler ArtsFest will close Sunday.


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