Chamber Ensemble Offers Unique Program In Upcoming Concert

New Directions Chamber

Fit Frank Molano jokes that he is the “designated adult” in charge of the New Directions Chamber Winds, but when it comes to their music, he and the other 15 musicians in the local ensemble are always serious.

The ensemble will offer a special concert on Sunday, Dec. 30 at the Wilton Theater Factory in Wilton Manors. Entitled “Song & Dance,” the program will include music by Camille Saint-Saëns, Sergei Prokofiev, Leo Delibes, Edvard Grieg and more.

“We are particularly eclectic in our programming,” said conductor Juan Mansilla. “We seek out works that are very unique and particular, yet accessible and relatable to the audience. And then, with each of our programs, we try to create a compelling narrative, so it’s not just a string of random musical pieces.”

The program Molano and Mansilla have planned for the Wilton Manors performance begins with the biblical story of Samson and Delilah, the famed “Bacchanal” from Saint-Saëns’ opera. From there, the fifteen musicians will present music inspired by Italian Renaissance courts, including selections from Prokofiev’s 20th-century ballet, “Romeo and Juliet.” 

“Deals were made on the dance floors in Renaissance Italy,” explained Mansilla, “with every step and gesture and how they were executed on the floor. It’s absolutely fascinating.”

From there the conductor will lead his volunteer musicians in music from the ballet “Coppelia” by Delibes and explore the inherent nationalism of Grieg’s “Four Norwegian Dances,” a musical response to Johannes Brahms’ “Hungarian Dances” and Antonín Dvořák’s “Slavonic Dances.”

“We also have some surprises planned,” Mansilla promised.

Rehearsals began several weeks ago. Most of the musicians are highly accomplished performers, but the ensemble also includes several talented student musicians who are eager to learn the classical wind repertoire.

“Everybody who is in the group wants to be in this group. We have very dedicated musicians,” Molano added. “The rehearsals can be very intense to learn such challenging music in a short amount of time.”

Many of the works are written for the ensemble’s instrumentation of flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassoons and horns, but other full symphonic works have been transcribed. Molano is quick to point out that the transcriptions are completely true to the original work, but offer audiences a way to experience the melodies and harmonies performed by a different combination of instruments.

Performing with New Directions does attract the better wind musicians in the area.

“If you play in a big band or big orchestra, you tend to be drowned out; whereas in a small group, it doesn’t matter if you’re playing the 2nd, 3rdor 4th part, you will be heard,” Mansilla said.

New Directions Chamber Winds presents “Song & Dance,” on Sunday, Dec. 30 at 4 p.m. at Wilton Theater Factory, 2304 N. Wilton Dr. in Wilton Manors. Tickets are $20 at IslandCityStage.org.