WHS ensemble chosen to perform with Atlanta Wind Symphony


First, Woodland High’s marching band was selected for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Now, its wind symphony has been chosen to perform a first-ever joint concert with an Atlanta community band.

The Atlanta Wind Symphony and the Woodland Wind Symphony will share the stage for Tributes, an evening of inspirational music, next Saturday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lassiter High School Concert Hall at 2601 Shallowford Road in Marietta.     

I chose the Woodland Wind Symphony to collaborate with the Atlanta Wind Symphony because the Woodland High School band program is one of the largest and finest in our state,” AWS Music Director David Kehler said. “They frequently are featured at national band festivals and state music conferences, along with being featured in 2018 at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The Woodland band directors are outstanding, and the musicians of this ensemble will present a wonderful program.”

WHS Director of Bands Eric Willoughby said he, Associate Director of Bands Michael Kobito and their 53 students — mostly upperclassmen with a few freshmen and sophomores — are “very excited about the opportunity to play a joint concert with the Atlanta Wind Symphony.”

“This is a unique collaboration between a top community band in the Atlanta area and a local high school band program,” he said. “This is the first time the Atlanta Wind Symphony has done a collaboration with a high school band, and we are honored to be the first group they selected to join them in a concert.”

Woodland’s ensemble will open the free concert by performing “The Klaxon” by Henry Fillmore, “With Heart and Voice” by David Gillingham, “Tribute” by Travis Cross and selections from “Lincolnshire Posy” by Percy Grainger.

The concert is titled ‘Tributes,’” Willoughby said. “As we were looking for repertoire to program for this concert, we were sensitive to the theme of the concert and wanted to expose our students to some of the finest music literature available.”

“The Klaxon” is a famous concert march written by Fillmore.

“He wrote the piece as a kind of ‘tribute’ to a particular kind of automobile horn called the Klaxon,” Willoughby said. “The march was premiered at an automobile show, and as a nod to the title, Fillmore chose to feature the French ‘horns’ in the trio of the march.”  

“Tribute” is a “beautiful contrasting piece” that was written by the current director of bands at UCLA, Willoughby said.

“This beautiful piece shares the title of the concert but would also be a great addition to any concert regardless of theme,” he said.  

Gillingham’s “With Heart and Voice” is based on the hymn “Come, Christians, Join to Sing,” the director said.

“It was written in tribute to and in honor of the 25th anniversary of Apple Valley High School in Minnesota,” he said. 

And the six-movement piece written by Grainger “uses folk songs he collected in Lincolnshire, England, as inspirations for each movement,” Willoughby said.  

“While ‘Lincolnshire Posy’ is not specifically tied to the theme, it is arguably one of the most renowned compositions for wind bands and has been a tremendous undertaking for our students,” he said. “The students have truly enjoyed preparing this program and look forward to sharing it with the community.”  

The second half of the program will feature the Atlanta Wind Symphony performing Mark Camphouse's “Tribute,” honoring women who served in the armed forces; Peter Graham's “Brillante,” a virtuoso euphonium solo paying homage to 19th century British brass bands and featuring guest soloist Paul Dickinson, artist-in-residence at Kennesaw State University; Frank Ticheli’s “An American Elegy”; and Joseph Hellmesberger Jr.’s “Danse Diabolique.”

The concert will conclude with both groups combining to perform Alfred Reed's “Alleluia! Laudamus Te.”

Woodland’s wind symphony is part of the school’s award-winning band program that consists of the marching band, four concert bands, a jazz band and multiple chamber ensembles.

Willoughby has been a music educator in Georgia for 24 years and is in his 11th year at Woodland. Under his direction, the program has received the National Band Association’s Program of Excellence Blue Ribbon Award as well as the Georgia Music Educators Association Exemplary Performance Award. 

The Atlanta Wind Symphony, an all-volunteer community ensemble comprised of more than 60 adult musicians, is dedicated to delivering inspiring performances of quality wind band literature.

Kehler serves as director of bands and music professor at KSU and is assisted by Associate Conductor Chris Shumick, director of bands at Milton High School.

While admission to the concert is free, donations will be accepted. 

For more information, visit www.AtlantaWindSymphony.org.