Concert Band honors seniors in final performance
Friends and families supported the University of Connecticut Concert Band in Von der Mehden Recital Hall on Tuesday night, cheering for the seniors and one of the conductors during one of his last times leading the band.
From the tuning of a single violin to the entire band, the sound of each instrument filled the auditorium. The band took up the entire stage, consisting of 73 members and 15 different instruments. Conductor Marvin McNeill gathered applause as he took center stage to begin the concert. Like something out of the Roaring 20s, "Beltway Jam" is a '50s tune that played off the idea of a traffic jam. With multiple overlapping layers of sound, some not entirely in harmony, the band created a sense of chaos and business-something Jack Stamp, the composer, imitated a Washington D.C. traffic jam.
The next number, lead by Andrew James, was titled "Caccia and Chorale." It began with chimes that picked up the entire band drastically. Then, it dropped into a part floating from flute to clarinet, then out to the rest of the band in a slow build up to a full sound. The song ended on a gentle note.
Before McNeill took the stage again, children hummed along to the tuning of the instruments in between each song. "Songs of Paradise" comprise of five hymns, the first of which is "Come, Saints." With a slow start to part two, "Home of the Soul" followed a dream-like and soft tune. "Someone is Waiting For Me" held hints of early gospel music, with tones that were strong and faith filled. The fourth movement, "The Pilgrim's Song" held early hints of gospel music, with sounds that were strong and faith filled. The fourth movement, "The Pilgrims Song," rang messages of sorrow and discovery, giving way to the triumphant sounds of the last movement titled "I Have Found At Last."
Dr David Mills led the second part of the concert with "The Glory of the Yankee Navy." After him, conductor Michael Black took the stage. "Amazing Grace," written by John Newman, a slave ship captain who later turned to the study of Christian theology, and into an abolitionist, filled the hall.
McNeill finished the concert with the last two songs. Separated into four movements, the composition "Elements" began with "Air" and sounds that either floated and hovered, or picked up quickly and died down all over again, just like wind. Called a petite symphony, each movement only lasted a couple of minutes.
"Water" flowed with majestic and serene sounds that rose like waves and were iconic of the grandeur of the element. With quick and quirky notes, "Earth" provided sounds of marching, or even skipping, along. Lastly, "Fire" began with a pop and rumbling, large and deep sounds showing the power of fire. Notes spread throughout the band quickly, like a wildfire.
Before the final song, McNeill thanked the crowd for coming out. He said the ensemble as "such a thrill to work with," pointing out that many of the students aren't music students, and many of them played throughout March Madness. He gave special mention to Black, who was conducting his last concert, and asked the graduating seniors of the group to bow.
The concert finished off with a '60s tune called "Ride" by Samuel R. Hazo, in a tribute to the composer of the first piece of the night, "The Beltway Jam" by Stamp.
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