Annual Ampersand Festival to Feature Unconventional Performances< < Back to
Tuesday, April 4 will mark Ohio University’s School of Music’s annual Ampersand Festival, the brainchild of Andrew Trachsel, an Associate Professor of Music and Assistant Director for Recruitment for the school.
The festival incorporates non-traditional elements into a performance by the Ohio University Wind Symphony, which Trachsel conducts. Over the past several years, the event (which was only recently christened “Ampersand,”) has included everything from bringing in film to collaborate with the live music of Wind Symphony performances to getting in Ohio-based psych-rock outfit Radar Hill to take part in collaborative performances.
“I love saying the names of the acts that we are collaborating with, because other people will be talking about how they are working on a Gustav Holst piece, and I’m talking about performing a piece by Sun Trash and Wolfmen,” said Trachsel. “I am very passionate about this event because even though the growth of it has been totally organic, personally, it really is a way for me to live in two worlds. I could wear the band conductor hat for the rest of my life and be perfectly satisfied, but I also love rock and alternative music.”
Trachsel said that members of all of the bands who are taking part in this year’s event are Ohio University alumni, outside of the drummer for Radar Hill.
“Oftentimes, in the School of Music, we work with students for a while, until they graduate, but it really isn’t until right before they graduate that you can really tell that they are starting to get the music, but then they have to go somewhere else!” said Trachsel. “This event is another way to continue to observe and keep that performance relationship going.”
Eli Chambers, one of the members of Radar Hill, said that he is very excited to be headed back to Athens to work in the context of the school from which he graduated.
“You know, it’s funny, all of the members of the band went to Ohio University, but we were all there at different times. We all ended up relocating to Columbus, and I think that’s why we’ve been able to keep the band together,” said Chambers, noting that the band meets once a week to practice despite their differing schedules.
Chambers performed in the Wind Symphony during his time at Ohio University, so he developed a relationship with Trachsel through that experience, while other members of the band have come into contact with Trachsel throughout their musical careers.
“He is one of the most agreeable, well put together, articulate, and passionate people that I have had to privilege of working with,” said Chambers, who said he was a little nervous that his piece for the Ampersand Festival performance, entitled Œ, would be a little too vague or that the formatting wasn’t quite right. “But Trachsel knew exactly what I meant and how I wanted it to be played. He’s a master interpreter.”
Sun Trash, made up of Nick Weckman and Caleb Miller, echoed some of Chamber’s sentiments on Trachsel.
“The great thing about Trachsel is that he will always put a little faith in you and give you the chance to do something unique,” said Weckman. “He’s allowing us to use some really non-traditional techniques in working with the wind symphony.”
Wolfmen, made up of Daniel Spencer, Seth Alexander, and Bobby Lucas, will be joined by senior Ohio University Division of Dance student Corrinne Bailey for a unique performance that will lace together live music, an improvisatory feel, and a dance being created alongside the music.
Last semester Bailey asked the band if they would provide music for one of her capstone requirements, to choreograph a piece herself, and they did, resulting in a successful amalgamation of dance and live music.
“(The performance was an) exploration of not just a dance set to music; but actually, having communication between live musicians and a dancer – which is not something not revolutionary, really,” said Spencer. “We wrote the piece side-by-side, and (Bailey) didn’t come in with any set choreography, but she would do a dance move that would fit to the music, and we would change things as we went along.”
For the festival, The Wolfmen will be performing a vastly expanded version of their “Conductress” piece from last semester. They will be communicating between themselves, Bailey, Trachsel, and the rest of the Wind Symphony.
This year the event is taking place at the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium, starting at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-concert lecture, followed by the opening of the show at 7:30 p.m. Attendance is free and open to the public.