Symphony musicians dress in monochromatic black. Union’s symphonic band concert was no exception, featuring 47 black-clad musicians. Despite its traditional and consistent color scheme, the band is radically diverse.
Students, professors and guest musicians came together to play five different pieces Nov. 10, at First Baptist Church of Jackson. Fewer than half of the members of the band are seeking or possess degrees in music.
The band started out with “Landscapes” by Rossano Galante, a composer who incorporates melodies reminiscent of movie themes. The band Skyped with him a year or so ago, said Michael Mann, professor of music and conductor for the band. Galante is well known for his creative melodies. Those melodies filled the elegant chamber of First Baptist Church’s sanctuary.
The second piece was “Lincolnshire Posy” by Percy Grainger. The piece predominately uses saxophone, which is one of the closest instruments to the human voice, Mann said. Grainger composed the piece to mimic the patterns of folk songs. It was written as the songs were traditionally sung, including rhythmic and melodic idiosyncrasies.
The third piece was “Lightning Field” by John Mackey. This song was made to mimic the sounds of a thunderstorm. To supplement the musical image, the band had footage of racing, darkening clouds changing to a full thunderstorm projected onto large screens. The song was percussion heavy, using booming drums to imitate pounding thunder.
“The timpani and the tongs and a lot of the percussion instruments were kind of like the thunder, and that was really cool.” said Mason Ruby, sophomore physics major and timpanist in the band.
He described his job as supportive role “to make the band sound better.”
As a physics major, the necessity of strict attention to detail in his field has helped him play the timpani, Ruby said.
To Ruby, playing timpani in the symphonic band is a form of worship. Playing in band helps form who he is, he said.
“It’s really formative to be disciplined.” Ruby said.
The band played “Enigma Variations” by Edward Elgar next and concluded with “Homage” by David Gillingham. Gillingham is known for using hymns and other mixed meter songs.
Toward the end of the concert, Mann recognized Kristen Wilson, a psychology and Christian ministry major, who is graduating after this semester, for giving her devotion and skill to the band.