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Composer premiers two works at MHS band concert

December 5, 2017

      The Mundelein High School Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Winds welcomed renowned composer Dr. Dana Wilson from Ithaca New York to their Band Concert Nov. 30. With the financial support of the Mundelein High School Band Boosters, Wilson wrote two compositions in honor of Mundelein.  The compositions were Old Number One and The Banquet.  Here is a synopsis of the two pieces.  Below you will find quotes from the students about the event.

 

The Banquet (2017)                        Dana Wilson

Protest and even “terrorism” are not new to American life.  On February 12, 1916, a large banquet was held at the University Club of Chicago to celebrate the installation of George William Mundelein as the third Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, Illinois.  The chef for the event, the anarchist Jean Crones, slipped arsenic into the soup in an attempt to poison Mundelein and over 100 other guests, including Illinois Governor Edward F. Dunne. Due to the late arrival of about fifty extra guests, however, it was decided that the soup should be watered down so that the unplanned-for arrivals could also be fed.  Virtually all suffered considerable agony and were near death when a doctor, J.B. Murphy, though stricken himself, managed to hastily prepare a potion to help the victims. Due to the soup's dilution and antidote, the guests were able to recover--including Mundelein--and none died. 

Newspapers referred to the mass-murder attempt as the "Mundelein poison soup plot."  If the anarchist had succeeded, there would be no town of Mundelein, Illinois.  By extension, there would be no Mundelein High School, and we wouldn’t be sitting in this auditorium hearing this composition (since Mundelein’s music faculty members Jerry Shelato and Andy Sturgeon organized the consortium that commissioned it).

The more important lesson, however, is that if the decision had not been made to share the soup with the unplanned-for arrivals, the dignitaries’ selfishness would undoubtedly have led to their deaths.  By sharing what was designated for them, they were saved.

Notes from the Composer’s Score

 

Old Number One (2017)                                Dana Wilson

In 1924, the village of Mundelein, Illinois was so named out of gratitude for then-Chicago Archbishop George Mundelein’s monumental financial investment in the community; this came in the form of his purchase of a business college near St. Mary’s Lake and his transformation of that college into a seminary. In response to the community’s gesture, Archbishop Mundelein (who was elevated to the position of Cardinal by Pope Pius XI around the same time) purchased a new 1925 Stoughton fire engine and donated it to the village fire department.

“Old Number One,” as the truck has come to be affectionately known, saw 20 years of service with the Mundelein Fire Department before it was sold in 1945. The truck returned to Mundelein (from North Carolina) in 1994 and again became the property of the Village of Mundelein in time for the Village’s 2009 Centennial Celebration. Since then, the village’s Old Number One Fire Truck Preservation Committee has worked to preserve and showcase this piece of community history. With a roofless, open top and a maximum speed of approximately 25 miles per hour, Old Number One still makes its way around the community, appearing at local events to spread its inherent message of connectedness through common history.

Subtitled “A Wild Ride in an Antique Fire Engine,” Dana Wilson’s Old Number One is a musical depiction of what the truck’s activity may have been like during its heyday serving the people of a still-young Mundelein, Illinois. Honking horns, pealing bells, and wailing sirens complement the work, reminding us all that Old Number One is still on the job and on its way!

Student comments about the evening:

 

                  “I really liked Dana Wilson.  He had a great positive energy and all of his answers were amazing.  He had this fantastic way of answering a question by tying in seemingly unrelated topics that fit really well (favorite musical motifs are just like favorite colors).” – Tyler (Clarinet – class of ’18)

·         “I really enjoyed being able to perform something and learn how the composer envisioned it being performed.  I also shook his hand at the end of the concert which was super cool” – Nishi (Clarinet – class of ’20)

·         “I thought that Dana Wilson was amazing, knowing that he’s a great American Composer and came all the way from Ithaca to Mundelein to hear us perform.” – Moises (Tenor Sax – class of ’19)

·         “I was the most nervous I’d ever been for a concert.  It was super scary and super exciting.  It was really cool to have the composer there and work with us.” – Anna (Clarinet – class of ’21)

·         “The Q&A was really cool and I think it’s interesting how much his jazz background still influences him.  It’s very apparent in Colorado Peaks” – Ryan (Flute – class of ’19)

·         “It was a cool opportunity and a great way to understand the art of music more in depth. – Andrew (Trumpet – class of ’18)

·         “Sooo… I really loved it.  I thought it was very interesting.  After the Q&A thing, I told Dr. Wilson that the euphs rest for 83.076% of his song and he asked me when I had the time to figure that out and I said “during my rests”.  He laughed so hard.  Then yesterday after the concert, he said it looked like I had fun during my 17% of playing.  I love this guy! J” – Komol (Euphonium – class of ’19)

·         “It was very interesting to know that Dana Wilson started out like most of us.  The rehearsal gave me a little more insight on what the piece was about.” – Anuj (Trombone – class of ’18)

·         “I thought it was exciting to have Dr. Wilson there teaching us how to play the piece the way he intended it.  I found it interesting that he was willing to be so open with us about his inspirations.” – Diya (French horn – class of ’20) 
 
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