Music Review: Three concerts
Auer Hall offers enjoyment, times 3
November 13, 2012
This is about a Sunday in Auer Hall at 4, 6 and 8 p.m.
Edmund Cord and his Brass Choir shook the walls, which can happen when seven trumpeters, seven horn players, four trombonists, one euphonium player, two on tubas, two timpanists and five other percussionists gather in a concert hall with fewer than 400 seats.
Though the decibels sometimes overwhelmed, the concert proved well chosen and often superbly voiced. Cord may look very much the reserved baton wielder, but he can draw the best from his musicians and do so with music both challenging to play and arresting to hear.
He opened with a new arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner,” featuring a midsection of strikingly altered harmonies. The stirring “Fanfare for the Common Man” of Aaron Copland was compellingly performed, as was the concert-ending “Western Fanfare,” a bright and showy item by Eric Ewazen.
A “Ceremonial Piece” by William Mac Davis was that. Morten Lauridsen’s increasingly popular choral work, “O Magnum Mysterium,” sounded almost as reverential instrumentally as with the usual text about “the new-born Lord, lying in a manger.” Eight brass players took on a frolicking Rondo by Henry Cowell. From the organ loft, two trombonists, two trumpeters and four percussionists on four sets of chimes parlayed Charles Ives’ churchly-to-raucous “From the Steeples and the Mountains” into a sonic jubilee.
“Salute to America,” by Britain’s Gordon Jacob, was the only composition on the program not written by an American. Heard additionally were Mel Broiles’ boisterously brassy “The Circumstance,” Leonard Bernstein’s joyously noisy “Shivaree” and a very percussive “Stonehenge” by Crawford Gates. Start to finish, the musicians got a workout.