UND Band and Wind Ensemble

Blows away the Chester Fritz


Dakota Student / Nicholas Nelson

Dr. James Popejoy (left) conducts the UND Wind Ensemble and University Band during Tuesday’s concert at the Chester Fritz Auditorium.

Ben Godfrey, Staff Writer

The vast space of the Chester Fritz Auditorium came alive Tuesday night with the sounds of our UND musicians. It was the first concert of the semester for the University Band and Wind Ensemble, and it was evident that they’ve been hard at work.

The UND Concert Bands are conducted by Dr. James Popejoy, the Director of Bands and a professor of music here at the university. Popejoy is the instructor for graduate and undergraduate courses in instrumental literature, conducting and jazz pedagogy.

The professor has many accomplishments in music education, including being selected as Educator of the Year by the North Dakota Music Educators Association, earning the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award from UND, and receiving the Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association. Dr. Popejoy certainly has the credentials, talent and skills to lead our University Bands to success.

The concert was split into two halves. First the UND University Band took the stage, followed by the Wind Ensemble after intermission. The band came out strong with a powerful performance of Karl L. King’s piece, “Prestissimo.”

Popejoy kept the momentum going right into “Windstar,” a concert overture by Claude T. Smith. Following these two pieces, the conductor gave a short introduction and then went into “Children’s Folksong Suite” by Kevin M. Walczyk.

This five part performance included a selection of Hungarian folk melodies, reworked and redesigned for concert band.

For the fourth song of the night, Dr. Popejoy gave the conductor’s stand to Alaynee Van Ornum, an undergraduate student in music education. Van Ornum led the band in one my favorite pieces of the night, Michael Oare’s “To Dream In Brushstrokes.” The band masterfully executed buildups and the contrast between light, floating melodies and epic, intense climaxes.  Van Ornum will begin student teaching in music education after this semester.

The last two pieces for the band were “Festivo” by Vaclav Nelhybel and “Strike Up The Band” by George Gershwin.

After a short intermission, the UND Wind Ensemble lit up the stage once again with a piece called “Pastime – A Salute to Baseball” by Jack Stamp. This was another of my favorite songs of the night. The composer tips his hat to America’s game in a few different ways, which I learned from the concert’s program. The piece uses the tune to “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,”  the classic seventh-inning-stretch anthem. There is also the use of a wood block to simulate the crack of a bat and at one point the flute and bells play the notes B-A-B-E to salute the “Great Bambino,” Babe Ruth.

The Wind Ensemble continued with a three-part piece, “Lost Vegas” by Michael Daugherty, followed by “Easter Monday on the White House Lawn” by John Philip Sousa, “Concerto for Vibraphone” by Thomas Briggs (featuring a vibraphone solo by Dr. Brian Pfeifer), and finally “Chorale and Shaker Dance” by John Zdechlik.

Each of the UND Bands have their work cut out for them in the next couple of months, with six upcoming concerts for the different groups combined. The next event is on March 23, when the Wind Ensemble will perform at the annual conference of the North Dakota Music Educators Association in Bismarck.

In April, both the Jazz Combos group and the Wind Ensemble Chamber Players will appear at the Harris Fine Arts Center at BYU. On April 24 and 27, the Chester Fritz Auditorium will come alive again when the Jazz Ensembles and Wind Ensemble return to perform on campus.

Finally, the University Band and Vivo “On Broadway” pops concert will have a performance in the Memorial Union Ballroom on April 30.

After attending the concert Tuesday night, it’s evident to me that our musical arts students are not only talented but also willing to put in the work to become the best they can be as a group and as individuals. Go out and support our UND music education next time they are performing.

Ben Godfrey is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]