Wind Ensemble Debuts Composer’s Latest Work

Wind Ensemble Debuts Composer’s Latest Work

Audience members were in for a treat when they attended Wantagh High School’s spring concert on May 18. They enjoyed a performance by the Wind Ensemble, which included a song composed by renowned musician Erik Morales to premier at the show.   

The original piece, “Huntress of the Fiery Air,” was part of the Wind Ensemble’s four-song set. Students were led by band conductor Danilo Aviles, and they got a tune up with Mr. Morales the day before the concert. He worked with the student-musicians for an hour to fine tune the piece. 

Last year, Mr. Aviles said, students performed and “fell in love” with a well-known song by Mr. Morales, “Dakota Fanfare.” He pursued an opportunity through Nassau BOCES for a commissioned piece by Mr. Morales. BOCES provided the funds to bring the partnership to fruition.

“Huntress of the Fiery Air,” a 5-minute, 45-second piece that is based on a poem by Mr. Morales’ father, was delivered to the ensemble in March and students rehearsed for two months, along with their other songs for the spring concert. 

After listening to the student-musicians and providing feedback, Mr. Morales then participated in a question and answer session with the band. He spoke about the origins of the piece, his inspiration as a composer, his background as a musician and more. Mr. Morales explained that being a successful composer requires knowledge of all instruments in an ensemble – how they sound and what they can and cannot do. 

Mr. Morales signed an enlarged copy of the first page of the “Huntress of the Fiery Air” sheet music for the band. 

“It’s something I never thought I’d get to be a part of,” said band President Siobhan Finn, a senior clarinet player. “Meeting someone famous and having him work with us was just amazing. His advice will definitely help me play better with the people around me.”

Natasha Meagher, co-vice president of the band, plays the alto saxophone and had a solo in “Huntress of the Fiery Air.”

“I really like piece and it’s really fun to play,” she said. “It’s great to hear from the person who wrote it and get feedback from him.”

Senior trumpet player Ryan Horowitz added, “It’s very enlightening to hear from the person who actually wrote this and to understand the process behind creating music.”

The Wind Ensemble is the highest level ensemble of the three bands available within the Wantagh High School music program. It is an honors-level class and students must audition at a high level of proficiency on their instruments to be selected for the group. The workload and rehearsal pace are challenging, Mr. Aviles explained, and the repertoire is at the highest two levels of the state standards for band music.