Music review: Musicians’ performance impressive

By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer |
June 28, 2013

The weather Wednesday night was absolutely awful, enough so to have the first of this year’s Summer Concert Band concerts moved indoors from the lawn of the Musical Arts Center. The storms might have discouraged a few folks from coming, but the true enthusiasts seemed to all be there, and they certainly expressed enthusiasm for what they heard.

But then, why not? The musicians assembled on the MAC stage performed extremely well, and they had a welcomed variety of pieces in their evening repertoire. Conductor Stephen Pratt fit 11 items into just over an hour, from overtures to marches, from show collections to bits of new compositions, the likes of which we hear during more formal wind concerts in the fall-winter-spring season. And throughout, he proved the maestro, offering interpretive sensitivity, calling for flexible and spirited response from his players, and maintaining praiseworthy control.

A Gershwin march, more specifically, the familiar “Strike Up the Band,” from the 1927 Broadway musical of that title, served to get matters underway with pizzazz, and a catchy 1893 march, “Northwind,” by W. Paris Chambers, had one’s feet moving in place at the end.

The in-between highlights were numerous, among them “Colonel Bogey,” written by the British march king, Kenneth Alford, and used prominently in the classic film, “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” A current IU Doctor of Music candidate, Benjamin Taylor, supplied Movement III from his recently completed work for band, “Trailing Clouds of Glory,” music craftily orchestrated, easy to listen to and sagaciously compressed for maximum impact; Pratt and the band performed it with breadth and gusto.

Cheers erupted after the 12-member clarinet section stood in place as a chorus of soloists to play Leroy Anderson’s capricious “Clarinet Candy,” a delightful exercise of tuneful fun requiring absolute precision ultimately in Indy-Car speed. Frank Ticheli’s affecting 1993 Cajun Folk Songs featured regional melodies that ranged from haunting to jaunty.

Also heard were a bombastic overture, “Millenium III,” by Alfred Reed, written in 1998 to foreshadow the arrival of the new millennium; “Chant and Jubilo,” a score, indeed, of chanting, then jubilation, by the late composer laureate of Arkansas, W. Francis McBeth; a rousing Balkan War-inspired 1912 march, “A Slavic Farewell,” by Vasilij Ivanovitj Agapkin; Glenn Osser’s “Beguine for Band,” honoring the old pop standard, “Begin the Beguine,” and a collection of ’60’s and ’70’s songs by Burt Bacharach, arranged by John Edmondson.

The concert covered extensive territory. The readings of its components by Pratt and his summer contingent were marked with authority and rich in sounds designed to please the ears.

Copyright: 2013

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