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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: June 20, 2017

A symphony of wind in Gorham

Written by: Bob Keyes
The 207 Wind Orchestra rehearses under the direction of Tim Burns. Staff photo by Jill Brady

The 207 Wind Orchestra rehearses under the direction of Tim Burns.
Staff photo by Jill Brady

When no one is playing the music you hear in your head, that’s when you start your own band. That’s what Timothy Burns did when he began the 207 Wind Orchestra two years ago.

There are a lot of bands in and around Portland, and Burns, a conductor and horn player, has performed with many of them. The 207 Wind Orchestra is different. In addition to playing music that many municipal and concert bands skip over, the 207 Wind Orchestra strives to match a player with every musical part written by a composer, so the piece can be performed exactly with the instrumentation the composer intended, even “if that means finding 20 contralto kazoos,” Burns said.

This is different than a symphony orchestra, for example, where several violinists in a section play a single part together.

The orchestra performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Corthell Concert Hall at the University of Southern Maine, Gorham. The concert is titled, “Color and Light: Symphonies for Wind, Brass, and Percussion.”

Burns, who serves as music director and conductor, studied music education and composition at USM, graduating with his master’s degree in 2013. The volunteer orchestra includes many USM alumni, and most of the musicians support themselves with their music.

Friday’s concert will be the band’s sixth. It played its first concert at Deering Oaks Park, and has performed at Portland and Brunswick high schools.

“My goal is not to do something that’s already being done by other bands in the area,” Burns said. “I wanted a niche, and I wanted to bring players together who were excited about playing different kinds of music.”

The horn section of the 207 Wind Orchestra rehearses under the direction of Tim Burns. Staff photo by Jill Brady

The horn section of the 207 Wind Orchestra rehearses under the direction of Tim Burns.
Staff photo by Jill Brady

Because the instrumentation differs widely piece to piece, each concert and each piece within a concert requires different groupings of players. Some pieces require as few as nine, others require 50 or more. Burns programs music that features less common instruments, like the contrabassoon, English horn and bass saxophone.

Friday’s program includes four wind symphonies: Frank Ticheli’s Symphony No. 2; Charles Gounod’s “Petite Symphonie”; Vincent Persichetti’s Symphony for Band; and a symphony that Burns composed using astrological charts, “Ascendant, An Astrological Symphony of the Stars.”

“In astrology, one’s personality is often affected by their rising sign, or the ascendant,” he said. “I used four of my friends as well as my own astrology chart to capture our personalities in music — using only the position of the heavens for pitches.”

Burns grew up in Biddeford and lives in Old Orchard Beach. He plays across southern Maine in musical theater orchestras and concert bands. The Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra, Casco Bay Wind Symphony and University of Southern Maine Wind Ensemble have performed his works. The Da Capo Chamber Players played his piece “Night Visions,” and the New York string quartet Ethel performed another called “string quartet (and so to dark).”

207 Wind Orchestra, “Color and Light: Symphonies for Wind, Brass and Percussion”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Corthell Concert Hall, 37 College Ave., University of Southern Maine, Gorham
TICKETS & INFO: $5 suggested donation; 207windorchestra.com

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