The sounds of our nation have become a debatable topic, as exclusionary realities have come to light and many begin to ask themselves “where is my representation?” Chris David Westover-Muñoz, Assistant Professor of Music and Coordinator of Wind and Brass Studies, attempts to confront this with “Variations of America,” a performance by the DU Wind Ensemble on Nov. 16 at 7pm in the Sharon Martin Hall in the Eisner Center. This consideration aims to negotiate the long history of American representation, or lack-there-of.
“I’m not sure if American bands can ever shake the prototypical image of the town band playing a Sousa march in the park under a bandstand decorated in flowing banners of red, white, and blue,” Westover wrote in his director’s note. “Patriotic music often creates a kind of neutral soundscape that reinforces dominant culture and its musical associations as de facto American, leaving marginalized identities out of the patriotic soundscape.”
This historically patriotic image of bands had existed for thousands of years. Its militaristic connotations have been a longstanding aspect of the music produced and played, and its existence today remains reminiscent of patriotism and imperialism.
Westover attempts to enable these marginalized voices to speak through the music and provide answers to questions concerning the realities of an inclusive band, one that allows for multiple voices and perspectives to be explored. This performance emphasises the chase to reinvent American band music’s exclusionary past, and reinvigorate the exchange of music and culture. In Westover’s words, this production was built around the idea of creating “something that centers marginalized voices and the nation’s challenges alongside its success.”
When asked about her excitement concerning the performance, wind ensemble member Madeleine Murphy ‘23 stated, “One of the main things I am excited about for this concert is the reaction the audience/campus is going to have: I think this is very different than your typical band concert because of the topics we are addressing (like slavery, native American rights, gay rights, and labor organizing) and the styles of music we are playing, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that is received.”
“I have never played music that speaks to current events or connects to societal problems the way this music does, so I am excited to bring Dr. Westover’s vision to fruition and execute this project,” said Madeleine Murphy ‘23.