This Sunday, April 28th at 3:00pm at the Lutheran Church of the Cross, The Winnipeg Wind Ensemble (WWE) will be holding their third concert in the 2023-24 season.

Called Fire and Ice this concert will feature music of Stravinsky, Pierre Dubois, and David Maslanka, amongst others as performed by one of the premier Wind Ensembles here on the prairies.

One of the big highlights of this concert is that the Winnipeg Wind Ensemble will be putting a spotlight on one of Winnipeg’s finest High School Bands. They will be opening up the stage to The Fort Richmond Collegiate Wind Ensemble.

The concert very much has a made in Manitoba element to it, with music written by Manitoba composer, conductor and pedagogue Fraser Linklater. The WWE will be premiering his piece titled Icescapes. Linklater has been a long time mentor and advocate for music education here in the Province. Ginny Helmer is the conductor of the WWE and known Linklater for many years, she says, “He’s done lots of guest conducting for the Wind Ensemble…he’s been writing a lot of music and arranging a lot of music and publishing a lot of pedagogical materials for band director’s use…and it’s all free if you are a member of the Manitoba Band Association because he really is just interested in promoting music education in our Province and around the country…and he’s just a great guy, we are really lucky to have that resource.”

Linklater’s piece Icescapes is subtitled An Homage to our Disappearing Arctic. The piece deals with melting and some of the sounds associated with that. As Helmer describes the piece, “There’s the sound of wind…arctic breezes at the beginning of the piece…the sound of dripping icy water…sliding things. The brass when they are playing in block chords are almost like big chunks of ice or icebergs that might be calving off into the sea. It’s got a huge dynamic range and is full of interesting effects…it’s a cool piece…pun intended!”

The other Manitoba compositional connection that concert has is that the Ensemble will be performing a saxophone concerto written by Pierre Max Dubois. This performance will feature the phenomenal young saxophonist from Fort Richmond Collegiate Kun Huang. The piece was originally scored for saxophone and string orchestra, but it has been arranged for band by the WWE’s bass clarinetist David Byrne. Byrne is on faculty at the Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba. “David knows what wind ensembles can and cannot do, so it’s been very carefully and thoughtfully arranged…it’s come together pretty easily, the way he’s written doesn’t overbalance the saxophone. I think it works really well,” states Helmer.


The WWE will also be performing a very beautiful and deeply moving piece by the American composer Steve Danyew. His piece Into the Silent Land is a work that draws on recent history. The piece takes its inspiration from the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that happened in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. As Helmer explains, “For Steve Danyew… he went to school there from grade three to grade five. It took him a long time to write the piece he says, because it was just so close to him and he wasn’t sure how to really do it justice…It’s about grief as a journey…but it’s also full of hope, and full of positive energy more toward the end of the piece and ultimately the message and his inspiration came from a poem called Into the Silent Land.” The poem is quite short, and is typically read by a child toward the end of the piece. The effect is absolutely moving and drives home the idea of remembering those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook and to not dwell on the circumstances.

The Winnipeg Wind Ensemble has a long history of welcoming student ensembles to the stage to share in their concerts. For this concert they have invited one of the finest High School Wind Ensembles in the Province, Fort Richmond Collegiate. The band is led by Cheryl Ferguson. They will be performing music of Howard Cable, Franck Ticheli and Leonard Bernstein that has been arranged for Wind Ensemble by Claire Grundman.

The Fire and Ice concert on Sunday, April 28th at 3:00pm at the Lutheran Church of the Cross, promises to be a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Two of the Provinces finest Wind Ensembles in one afternoon, performing some amazing wind band literature, what could be better?

For more details visit the Winnipeg Wind Ensemble’s website.