We continue our 23rd season with our next concert to be presented on Sunday, April 8, 2018 at 3:00 p.m., at the Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel on the Park University Parkville campus.
The Roman Carnival Overture, by Hector Berlioz: This fiery and exciting piece begins with a wild introduction that briefly introduces the main theme before abruptly transitioning into a lovely slow melody which sets a romantic mood. I imagine Berlioz portraying young couples anticipating a joyous and fun-filled carnival evening. Suddenly the mood shifts into the fast paced carnival itself. Here the energetic pace drives the music ever forward. There is no letup, no time for a break, just the frenetic perpetual motion of a wild carnival celebration.
Festivo, by Vaclav Nelhybel: Following the carnival theme, we perform this celebratory piece by one of the ground-breaking composers for band of the mid-20th century. Nelhybel conceived of this piece as a sort of struggle between the woodwind and brass sections as they “confront each other like two antagonists in a dramatic scene.” Maybe due to the more brash and dissonant music that has followed, I hear this piece not so much as confrontational, but rather as complementary as the two instrumental choirs reinforce each other, creating exciting rhythmic and dynamic interplays. For me, the disjointed themes gradually coalesce together into more complete harmonic and melodic structures as we discover their ultimate goals as revealed near the end of the piece. A very active percussion section forms a third choir that unifies the piece and helps hold it together.
Don’t Rain On My Parade, by Jule Styne: This Barbra Streisand hit song from the musical Funny Girl, captures the Broadway extravaganza feel in this masterful arrangement for concert band by John Moss. The syncopated rhythms and lush orchestration could easily have you imagining a chorus line about to break into a full-stage dance routine!
Hooray for Hollywood: Jumping from New York to Los Angeles, we pay tribute to a host of classic movie themes arranged by Warren Barker. You will likely recognize most of these songs, but can you identify the movies that are associated with them? Selections include themes from Gone With The Wind, A Summer Place, Born Free, Days of Wine and Roses, Lawrence of Arabia, Casablanca, and more. Today, many of these movies remain as well known classics of earlier times, while others are largely forgotten, remembered mostly for their musical themes. How many can you recognize?
Etude Russe: This beautiful meditative work by the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin, arranged for concert band by Louis Brunelli, is from the composer’s early period and is filled with romantic lyricism. For me, the piece expresses a deep longing, and suggests a resigned sadness for that which in this life will always be beyond one’s grasp. Perhaps this foreshadows Scriabin’s later fascination with the mystical.
Invercargill March: There are march composers other than John Philip Sousa and Karl King! In this fine march by Alex Lithgow, I particularly like the confident and energetic melody featured in the second strain, and the lovely and flowing main tune of the trio section. Both are accompanied by well-crafted lower voice counterpoint, featuring the trombones and baritones.
Miss Trombone: Henry Fillmore was another composer of superb marches, including the classic patriotic march, Americans We, and the Klaxon march, performed on our concert last fall. When not writing marches, Filmore, who was himself a trombonist, liked to write trombone features in which he delighted in showcasing the unique abilities of the trombone afforded by its slide. Miss Trombone is a charming ragtime-style number filled with numerous glissandos, showing what a slippery-slidy instrument the trombone can be. Warning: could this also tell us something about the practitioners of this instrument? As a trombonist myself, I dare say no more!
Notes by Steve Berg