The Union University Symphonic Band will perform their spring concert at First Baptist Church in Jackson, the last performance for this year’s graduating seniors, May 3 at 7:30 p.m.
The show will open with an energetic piece titled “…Go” by Samuel R. Hazo. The composer comments in his notes, “I wanted to offer the wind band an obvious lead-off hitter with power.” This piece includes dynamic brass hits, woodwind runs, shimmering chorales and percussion breaks that will keep everyone on the edge of their seats.
After an exciting beginning, the band will move on to “Simple Gifts” by Frank Ticheli, a four-movement piece that is built from four Shaker melodies. Ticheli uses subtle ways to capture the original songs’ simple straightforward beauty, as they were traditionally sung in unison without instrumental accompaniment. For this tribute, he chose “a sensuous nature song, a lively dance tune, a tender lullaby and most famously ‘Simple Gifts,’ the hymn that celebrates the Shaker’s love of simplicity and humility.”
Following “Simple Gifts” will be a Flute Concertino by Chaminade, which is known as one of the great standards of the flute’s literature. It was originally written for the flute and orchestra, but it has been transcribed for the flute and band.
Anna Laura Williams, the assistant band director at Liberty Technology High School in Jackson, will join the band for the Concertino, performing the technically challenging flute solo. During other parts of the concert, she will join the brass section on the euphonium.
“Night on Fire,” the second movement from John Mackey’s suite “The Soul has Many Motions,” will be the penultimate piece of the show, with a raw and brutal nature that will stand out from the other pieces featured. The piece’s description states that “[it’s] exotic and at times savage sound suggest wild dancing around a nomadic camp fire, complete with tambourine, multiple hand drums and harsh, biting winds.”
“Its riveting vitality should bring out the beast nature in all the listeners; they’re either going to applaud like crazy at the end of this piece or go looking for bananas,” said Michael Mann, the symphonic band director.
Finally, the concert will close with a piece titled “Give Us This Day (Short Symphony for Wind Ensemble)” by David Maslanka. The title comes from the words of the Lord’s prayer, but the musical style is actually inspired by the Buddhist tradition. The piece includes significant solo parts for the flute, oboe, clarinet and alto saxophone.
This concert serves as both a showcase of the band’s talent and as the final grade for the band members. Many members of the band are graduating seniors, and this will be their final performance with the band before they graduate. After this concert, they will not be required to attend rehearsals for the rest of the year. The underclassmen, however, will be back in class again on Wednesday to begin preparing their musical selections for graduation Saturday, May 21.