Sunday, November 10, 2013

AU Symphonic Band at the Movies

ALFRED: Alfred University’s Symphonic Band is going to the movies and hopes you’ll join them - Friday, Dec 6 at 8 pm.
                Dr. Chris Foster, Director of Bands, said that students have been begging to play movie themes for a while.  This semester, he decided it was time.  
                “I’m a fan of a lot of block buster movies. Sci-fi and fantasy movies have great stories and a lot of good music. When I started looking for a program, the plan was to play one or two movie scores but there was just so much fantastic music out there that we’re doing a total movie based concert.”
                It’s clear that Alfred’s students love movies and the music in movies but fun music isn’t necessarily easy stuff.
                One of Foster’s favorites is The Dark Knight Rises, composed by Hans Zimmer and arranged by Ralph Ford. Foster loves the dark cords, the power and energy that surges through the piece. He urges people to listen for the percussion work in Dark Knight.
                Any discussion of Dark Knight must include recognition of the clarinet section. This piece is merciless for them. They have to dash madly but lightly for measure after measure of finger-twisting sixteenth notes.
                Another Foster favorite is The Complete Harry Potter arranged by Jerry Brubaker but with parts composed by John Williams, Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper and Alexander Desplat. There were 7 Harry Potter books crafted into 8 movies over the years and this piece takes highlights from the many stories and composers and smoothes them into one coherent piece.
                As you might expect, there are constant changes of style, tempo, keys and moods. Movie music is often challenging but with 4 composers, it’s a bit more so.
                Jon Ugalde and Caroline Pikacs (both clarinetists) like the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  Composed by Howard Shore, this piece has five movements from the film.
                Jon likes it because it is technically challenging but fun and rewarding to play. Caroline has come to appreciate the Hobbit because she just read the book in an English class. She’d never read anything by Tolkien before and now plans to read the Lord of the Rings series.  She’s had a glimpse of Tolkien’s world and thinks it’s a good place to spend time.
                Caroline’s favorite part of The Hobbit is the final movement – Dreaming of Bag End.
                Melissa MacDonald (trumpet) thinks that Symphonic Suite from Star Trek arranged by Jay Bocook is the best. She proclaims herself to be a “giant Trekkie” and says that the piece reaches into her proud, nerd core.
                Should you have any doubts, Melissa wants you to know that the piece “sounds pretty damn  awesome.”
                Hunter Haddad (saxophone) said that while it’s hard to pick a favorite, he invites you to attend the concert to hear music from the picture Skyfall because it has a great sax part.
                In Skyfall, themes in the upper winds answer those in the lower brass and then others weave their parts between. It’s exciting music.
                Hunter also likes Star Trek. He played an arrangement of Star Trek in high school and it’s always nice to play different versions of a familiar piece.
                The concert, says Hunter, will be awesome and unlike any other. Put it on your calendar for Friday night, December 6 at 8 pm in the Miller Performing Arts Center -MPAC.
                If you aren’t familiar with the Alfred Campus, don’t be shy. You are more than welcome. Just enter Alfred University’s campus at the traffic light. Turn left at the top of the hill. Drive until the road curves right. That building with all the glass, at the curve, is your destination. Turn left to park.
                Please note: there is an informal dance concert in CD Smith Hall (also in MPAC) at 7 pm on that same night. The Symphonic Band program is scheduled for 8 pm to allow people to see both performances. Both programs are free and open to all. For more information contact the Division of Performing Arts at 607.871.2562.

Photo 1: Dr. Chris Foster
Photo 2: Melissa with Trumpet, John and Caroline with clarinets and Hunter with sax

(Elaine Hardman is honored to be a member of the flute section of Alfred University’s Symphonic Band.)

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