A panel of judges unanimously selected Heidi Keener as winner of the 2022 Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition based on her performance of Frank Ticheli’s concerto Silver Lining. She will perform her concerto with the Wind Ensemble at the Hamel Music Center on February 27, 2022.
Keener is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in flute performance at the School of Music as a Collins Fellowship recipient. She actively performs with the University Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Flute Ensemble, and various chamber ensembles.
The title of Ticheli’s concerto—Silver Lining—suggests three layers of meaning, Keener said. The color silver has clear connections to the flute and its tone, while the idea of a silver lining describes the relationship of the flute to the ensemble.
“As a metaphor, Silver Lining speaks to the human need to search for hope, beauty, meaning, connection, and joy in response to tragedy and situations that are difficult to accept,” Keener said. “The concerto was commissioned by Peter Warshaw in memory of his wife, Lara Barnett. Ticheli honors her life in the middle movement, To the Girl with the Flaxen Hair, featuring a gorgeous and compelling musical setting of the poem, ‘A Little While,’ by Sara Teasdale. The overall form of the piece is also referenced in the title as the heart of the concerto is bookended by two lively, fast-paced movements.”
In the first movement, Game, Ticheli creates an exciting playground through a variety of colorful interactions and extended techniques, including percussive effects, jet whistles, flutter tonguing, and vocalization. Playful exchanges between the soloist and ensemble imitate the different levels of a video game. The final movement, Silver Lining, is lighthearted and energetic. Dance-like sections alternate with lyrical passages. After an extensive cadenza, the entire ensemble returns for a celebratory ending.
Many of the contemporary wind ensemble concertos have not been transcribed for piano due to complexity, impracticality, and other factors. It is a major challenge to give a convincing concerto performance in a competition setting without an ensemble or pianist as the soloist only represents a small part of the overall picture, Keener said.
“As much as I enjoyed preparing for the competition through listening, score study, and imagining the sounds and colors of the ensemble, I am definitely looking forward to the shared inspiration and energy that will come from collaborating with the talented members of the Wind Ensemble and Dr. Scott Teeple,” Keener said. “I chose this piece because I believed it would be equally rewarding for the ensemble, and I hope they will enjoy working on it as much as I have. It is an incredible honor to be selected for this opportunity, and I hope my family will be able to make the trip to Madison for the performance in February.”
The concerto competition consisted of nine extremely talented students who each gave a compelling performance of their selected concerto, Professor of Music and Director of Bands Scott Teeple said.
“Heidi preforms with energy, passion, and an unparalleled commitment,” he said. “It will be a thrill to collaborate with her and the ensemble on this performance.”
Though Ticheli’s composition is relatively new, the work has received numerous performances, including a premiere in Minnesota by renowned flutist Jim Walker.