MTSU Wind Ensemble features Copland, Shostakovich,...

MTSU Wind Ensemble features Copland, Shostakovich, ‘John Henry’ premiere

The MTSU Wind Ensemble will present two concerts featuring the music of Aaron Copland and Dmitri Shostakovich March 15 and 16, as well as a world premiere performance of “John Henry Symphony” by Jeffrey Brooks.

The concerts are scheduled for Thursday, March 15, at the First United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro and Friday, March 16in Hinton Hall inside MTSU’s Wright Music Building. Each free performance begins at 7:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” will be performed first; the opening theme of this piece has gained national recognition by being adapted to music performed by such varied greats as Woody Herman and the Rolling Stones. Emerson, Lake & Palmer also recorded a rock version in the late 1970s.

Copeland’s music also has become widely known through its use in popular commercials for the American beef industry.

Shostakovich is one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century. His “Festive Overture, opus 96” was the theme music for the 1980 Summer Olympics, while “Opus 76a – Finale” was played while the cauldron was lit at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Dr. Reed Thomas, director of the MTSU Wind Ensemble, said the University’s School of Music joined a consortium with nine other schools to commission a wind-band work from Brooks, a prominent composer from Minneapolis, Minn.

“Many of us thought it time for him to write another piece,” Thomas said, referring to Brooks’s lone composition for wind instruments, “and the result is ‘John Henry Symphony.’ It is based on the legend … of John Henry and the epic battle between the man and the steam machine that could cut through the mountain to lay train tracks.”

Brooks’s health caused delays in completing the piece, Thomas said, and several other schools withdrew their involvement or didn’t schedule a performance as a result.

“I made a gamble that the piece would be completed this year and scheduled it to be performed on our annual First United Methodist Church concert this semester,” the MTSU professor explained.

“As luck would have it, Jeffrey did complete the piece, sent me a set of parts and a score and made sure we received the world premiere because I helped give him the push to complete it.”

For more MTSU School of Music concert information, call 615-898-2493 or visit and click on the “Concert Calendar” link.