Winter concert heats up the night

Dec. 14, 2008, midnight | By David Zheng | 12 years, 2 months ago

Orchestra and jazz bands showoff musical talents

Blair's Winter Concert, featuring the concert and symphonic bands, string and symphonic orchestras and jazz lab and honors jazz bands, warmed up a cold and stormy Thursday night in the Blair auditorium. Conducted by music teachers Dustin M. Doyle and Michelle Roberts, the showcase of 19 diverse instrumental pieces, ranging from classical sonatas to buoyant marches to soulful jazz, captivated the large audience and lightened an otherwise dismal atmosphere.

The concert band kicked things off with the cheery "Richland Overture" from John O'Reilly. The strong melody and sonorous harmonies made for a quality opener to the night. Next, the concert band transitioned to a peaceful and calm "Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming" arranged by Larry Kerchner. This subdued, sentimental piece conveyed a feeling of holiday spirit contrasting with "Moscow, 1941" from Brian Balmages. This final piece carried the intensity and emotion of war, the powerful tempo summoning the march of the Red Army in defense of their homeland.

Photo: Blair's symphonic orchestra continues to put on a fantastic show for the packed audience.

The symphonic band took center stage next with the famous "On the Mall," by Edwin Franko and arranged by M.L. Lake. This delightfully festive march was accompanied by the singing of the melody and had audiences whistling along. The theme quickly shifted into a gentler, elegant composition that evoked introspection in "On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss," by David R. Holsinger. The symphonic band finished off their excellent performances with the very classical yet upbeat "Prelude and Fugue in Bb Major" by Bach, arranged by R.L. Moehlmann.

The string orchestra kept up the night's diverse performances with "Finlandia" by Jean Sibelius, arranged by Roy Philippe. Featuring brass, woodwind and percussion, the dramatic piece captured the lore and majesty of Finland's sweeping countryside. "Best of Bach," arranged by Jerry Bubaker, followed. The orchestra started this mellow tune slow but quickly transitioned into an uplifting sensation. The short yet dynamic "Concerto in D," by Antonio Vivaldi and arranged by Bob Phillips, closed out the string orchestra's sound showing.

With the concert on a roll, the symphonic orchestra took on the tough role of following the night's already strong displays but did not falter one bit. Their first piece "Marche Militaire No. 1," by Schubert and arranged by Theo Moses, was a fun and intense piece. The sharp chords, dramatic tenor and resounding exchanges between the resonant violins and cellos and the sharp winds recreated the booming stomps of a marching parade while ebbing away to softer tones. The rowdy piece set the stage for their next act, "Irish Tune from County Derry" by Percy Aldrige Grainger, a piece that starkly contrasted in cadence. This piece opened with a mournful harmony and gradually crescendos into a spiritual uplifting through a rejoicing interweaving of melodies. But the height of the symphonic orchestra's night was "Bacchanale" by Camille Saint-Saens, arranged by Merle J. Isaac. Introduced by a piccolo and clarinet, this "Lawrence of Arabia"- like tune increases in tempo into a mighty climax of clashing beats with a thunderous unison of strings and winds.

Photo: Freshman Julian Lofton delivers a emotional solo in Benny Golson's jazz ballad, "I Remember Clifford."

The always fun and experimenting jazz lab band jumped in next. Their first song "River Rat Shuffle," by Dean Sorenson and Bruce Pearson, combined a repetitive yet catchy refrain with a fantastic series of solos featuring each of the lab's players from flute, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, trumpet, piano, guitar, bass and percussion. The solo theme continued with the "I Remember Clifford" by Benny Golson and arranged by Mike Vax. The poignant ballad featured freshman Julian Lofton. His soulful performance on the trumpet evoked memories of the saddest goodbyes. A snazzy jazz waltz followed in Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," arranged by John Berry. The jazz lab band's last number was a jamming "So What" by Miles David and arranged by Mark Taylor. The cool vibes that emanated from the trading solos between electric piano, saxophones and trumpets was thoroughly entertaining.

The honors jazz band followed the lab band to conclude the night. "Oleo," by Sonny Rollins and arranged by Mark Taylor, featured a new set of solos from this jazz ensemble. A different but tender love ballad came from "But Beautiful" by Jimmy Van Heusen and arranged by Frank Mantooth. Finally, a slick "Afro Blue," by Mongo Santamaria and arranged by Michael P. Mossman, reinvigorated audiences with an up-tempo Congo beat. This final performance brought audiences to their feet and made for a fitting end to the rest of the night's fantastic showcase.

David Zheng. David Zheng used to live in California but now he is trapped in Maryland. In his spare time, David likes to play sports in general, doze off in front of the computer, watch random movies, and eat ice cream. Although some may disagree, David is … More »

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