Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Review: GaTech Concert Band

I must admit that it has been a while since I thoroughly enjoyed a band concert. Oh, I try and get away and catch a symphony here and there, but one certainly expects professionalism from...well...professionals. Unfortunately, in the realm of bands, the last couple of years of high school band were painful, not because of the musicianship--one expects a certain amount of amateurism in a HS band, but rather, the thing I just can't abide: a rude audience.

When Vicky told me the college band was performing a John Williams and Aaron Copland piece (one of each--not together--it's easier to keep writing and explaining than backspacing and rewriting that sentence) I moved around my schedule to be able to attend. The evening did not disappoint.

I have to begin with the director, who charmed me right away for two reasons. First, he reminded me of Joe Kaplan, whom I miss terribly at the oddest moments, and second, he obviously has a rapport with the audience and spoke with a real affection and admiration for the music he was introducing. I am especially grateful for his explanation of The Star Spangled Banner as a fantasia which otherwise would have resulted in the confused rising for the national anthem. Kudos to him.

The Copland piece was beautiful, and appropriate given the events of this week. How can it be Tuesday and I feel like I've lived a decade in two days?

Things got a little edgy with the next piece, something I was not familiar with, and to be honest, I'm not likely to seek out. Something with transcendental in the title and thus for me, reminiscent of having to read Jean-Paul Sartre, or worse, Albert Camus. Bah! Am I an English teacher? Perhaps I meant Emerson and Thoreua (possibly worse). It did have some redeeming qualities: the two Stargazing movements were extraordinary. I love the raw emotion of the drums and the intensity of the woodwinds. Still, not my cup of tea, but it was entertaining as hell to watch Vicky and Nigel moving among all the percussion intruments. My Baby can wield those mallets like a jousting knight.

The evening ended with the most unlikely thing: Liturgical music for band. How weird is that? What do I know of music, so maybe it's normal, but not something I can recall. I love the Masses sung by Christy and Jonathan's chorus groups--in fact, I look forward to festival because they tend to sing glorias and alleluias, but I was having a hard time wrapping my mind around brass and woodwinds producing this "liturgical music." As it happens, it was a brilliant ending for the evening.

Well, it was actually brilliant for a different reason. It may be heresy, but I thought the final piece, the alleluia part, sounded an awful lot like the style from How the West Was Won.

So sue me.

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