KINGSTON, RI – April 18, 2022 – The University of Rhode Island Music Department wraps up its spring concert schedule in April and May with a lineup that includes two shows that celebrate 75 years of combined service to the University by the music teachers Gene Pollart and Anne Danis.
Pollart, music teacher and director of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, joined URI in 1976 as an associate professor after serving on the faculties of California State University, the University of Wisconsin, and South Dakota State University.
In addition to being an accomplished percussionist, Pollart is the former bandleader of The American Band, one of the nation’s oldest continuously active bands. At the URI, he was appointed orchestra director in 1976, directed the brass band for seven years and directed the Symphonic Wind Ensemble since his arrival.
“Gene is one of the band’s leaders in New England and he’s a masterful arranger,” said Mark Conley, chairman of URI’s music department. “Sometimes a band’s music acquires a certain sound that’s just universal. Gene has always had this really interesting way of arranging where the palette of the individual instruments comes out in a terrific way.
Danis, music teacher, violin and viola teacher, director of orchestral activities and conductor of the Symphony Orchestra, came to URI in 1993 with more than two decades of orchestral conducting experience. and in orchestra. Danis, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music, has traveled nationally and internationally as a performer, clinician and guest conductor.
In 1991 she founded the Ocean State Chamber Orchestra, and from 1990 to 2019 she conducted orchestras in all states and festivals in New England and North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Georgia and At New York.
“Ann is one of the trailblazers,” Conley said. “She’s been a woman in the conducting business for decades. Until very recently, you could count the number of women conductors on one hand. We were very lucky to have someone who is a wonderful musician and a great teacher, but who also paved the way for a new generation.
On Saturday April 23, the Symphony Orchestra expects between 50 and 60 alumni to return for “Ann’s Last Hurrah”, growing the orchestra from around 40 members to 100 musicians. To make room, the concert will take place at the Keaney Gymnasium, instead of the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall. The concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on site Web page.
Former pupil Catherine Gagnon, music director of the Warwick Symphony Orchestra, who plays regularly with the URI orchestra, helped organize the concert, collecting contact information months ago to compile the list of former members of the Danis Symphony Orchestra. “It’s extraordinary,” Danis said. “I feel very blessed. It was a very big undertaking and Catherine made it.
The evening will feature some of Danis’ favorites of almost 30 years leading the orchestra – Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture”, Tchaikovsky’s “Marche Slave” and the last movement of Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”. The string section will also perform Mozart’s “Divertimento”.
The concert will end with the Concertino for flute and orchestra by Cécile Chaminade, with soloist Allison Parramore, flute teacher at the URI and former symphony. While a student at the URI, she won a solo competition playing the Chaminade concertino.
During her time at URI, Danis said she saw the orchestra grow, with students more enthusiastic about being part of the symphony, and also a growth in the ranks of female conductors, though she says, “There’s always the stereotype that whoever should be on the podium is someone in the pile.” But it’s better. »
“I will miss the students very much. I really enjoyed my time at URI,” she added. “People told me years ago, ‘When it’s time, you’ll know.’ I kept thinking that I don’t know if it’s going to happen. But now I do. It’s around that time.
“Catherine and I have a 2 year old daughter. She is wonderful and I want to spend a lot more time with her. And we have a house in France and we would like to spend more time there. I never got to see it in the fall because I’ve been a college student all my life. I don’t know yet what else is on the horizon. I am open to all kinds of possibilities.
On Sunday May 1, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble will perform half a dozen works for Pollart’s last concert as director. The concert starts at 3 p.m. in the concert hall. For tickets, go to the event website Web page.
The 12-member ensemble will perform Sergie Prokofieff’s “Gavotta”, Robert Boughton’s “Pursuit”, two movements of Percy Grainger’s “Lincolnshire Posy”, Gustav Holst’s “A Moorside March”, Eric Whitacre’s “A Seal Lullaby” , Henry Fillmore’s “His Honor (March)” and Luther Henderson’s arrangement of “Saints’ Hallelujah”.
Among Pollart’s career highlights, he said, was the growing reputation of the wind ensemble, which was invited to perform at numerous regional music conferences.
“I feel very lucky to have been appointed Groups Manager in 1976,” Pollart said. “I have loved every minute of my job here, watching the band program evolve into a major New England college program, and my symphonic wind ensemble grow into one of the finest wind bands in the region. New England I wouldn’t trade my experience at URI for anything in the world.
More spring shows
Between the two tributes, the month of April is full of concerts by the other great ensembles of the University. Tickets for all shows are $12 for general admission and $7 for seniors (60+), students, faculty, and staff.
Instead of a goodbye, the Wednesday, April 27, concert of University Choir will welcome the ensemble’s director, Carrie-Atla DeChamplain, who joined the University last fall as a lecturer in amplified voice. The choir will perform a tribute to legendary American composer Stephen Sondheim, who passed away in November. the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in the concert hall.
DeChamplain, who holds a master’s degree from the University of Toledo and a bachelor’s degree from the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, has conducted many choirs, including church ensembles and choirs academics. Since joining URI, the choir’s 21 singers have been welcoming and enthusiastic about her somewhat different approach, she said.
“My background is a little different than many choir directors, as I specialize in jazz, R&B and gospel music,” she said. “Since I had this experience, I decided to move away from traditional classical music which is often the standard repertoire for choirs. I wanted to share the music that I love, so that I could conduct with enthusiasm and energy.
The following night, Thursday, April 28, DeChamplain will team up with the jazz big band, under the direction of Emmett Goods, for an assortment of jazz pieces from different eras. the concert starts at 8 p.m. in the concert hall.
On Friday April 29, the harmony orchestra, directed by Brian Cardany, will perform a medley of compositions by John Williams to mark the composer’s 90th birthdayand anniversary – “Cantina Band” from “Star Wars”, the main theme from “Catch Me If You Can” and “Swing, Swing, Swing” from “1941”.
The concert will also feature “Dedicatory Overture” by J. Clifton Williams, “Prairiesong” by Carl Strommen, “Hands Across the Sea” by John Philip Sousa, “Rest” by Frank Ticheli, “Bayou Breakdown” by Brant Karrick and “Alchemy”. by Andrew Boysen Jr.
the concert starts at 8 p.m. in the concert hall.
On Saturday April 30, the concert choir ends the month with “In Sickness and For Health”, a concert of music and poetry related to the past times of the pandemic. the concert starts at 8 p.m. in the concert hall.
The program will include a piece from 1350 by Guillaume de Machaut written during the bubonic plague, a composition by Schubert based on the 23rd Psalm for sopranos and altos, and a 1660s composition written around the time of the Great Fire of London and a plague that killed 20% of the population.
The concert will close with “How to Go On,” a multi-movement contemporary work by American composer Dale Trumbore that was written several years before the COVID-19 pandemic. “How to Go On” is about letting a dead friend go, but like the other selections, it has a double meaning when faced with a pandemic.
“Once again, in difficult times, the arts teach us not only to cope, but also to hope,” said director Mark Conley.
For a list of all upcoming URI music events, visit: uri.edu/music/events/ .