They are considered standards in the world of wind ensembles, works with a flair for the dramatic.

When the Armstrong Atlantic State University Department of Art, Music & Theatre Wind Ensemble makes its season debut Sept. 24, it will perform these classics: W. Francis McBeth's "Drammatico," John Barnes Chance's "Variations on a Korean Folk Song," Sir Malcolm Henry Arnold's "Little Suite" prelude "Siciliano" and "Rondo," and Johan de Meij's "La Quintessenza."

The program was crafted by AASU assistant professor of music and wind ensemble director Mark B. Johnson.

"W. Francis McBeth wrote 'Drammatico' in about 1969," Johnson says. "He lived most of his life in Arkansas.

"Part of the reason I'm playing it is he just passed away recently. All of us in the business are playing an homage to him. He was instrumental in writing music for us to play.

"This is more or less a concert of what we call standards in our business," Johnson says.

"These pieces of music are well-known and played for competitions and evaluations, mostly at the high school and college level."

The concert falls early this season, Johnson says.

"I had to figure out a program that was approachable in 10 rehearsals with a group just learning to play together," he says.

"Bayou Breakdown" by Brant Karrick might also make the playlist, although Johnson may decide not to include it.

"It's pretty difficult," he says. "I don't know if we'll have time to prepare for it. We'll definitely play it at our November concert."

The season is new, the school year is new and many of the ensemble members are freshmen and sophomores.

"It's almost like dealing with a living thing, except this living thing has 50 brains and 50 little musical souls," Johnson says.

"I think one of the most appealing things about this particular concert is that the musicians are young and excited to play. There's a lot of life in something like this.

"None of the pieces are extra long and the concert will be maybe an hour," he says. "I will be talking about each piece before it is played to fill in people about what they're going to hear."

Though young, the musicians are eager to play.

"They all bring something to the table, and what we accomplish together is the magic of putting this concert together," Johnson says. "This music has a lot of variety, so if you don't like the first one, maybe you'll like the second.

"It's like a rollercoaster sometimes," he says. "That's why I do it. We have all kinds of repertoire to choose from, so it's hard to get bored."