On Friday, March 14, 2014, (Pi day) I was lucky enough to attend a Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Band Concert, conducted by the fabulous Brad Hogarth. The programming was well - planned and the level of performance was extremely high. As a freshman at SOTA, I found it a completely different experience listening to music made by people I know personally.
The first piece performed was John Mackey's Harvest: Concerto for Trombone. The trombonist was Oscar Yau (although the program had a misprint which said that his name was Oscar Hin). This piece was performed with such valor (if you will permit me to use such a word when describing music) that the audience seemed to be in the scene. The scene, being about how the Greek God of wine Dionysus suffered a torturous death before being reborn again, analogized the grape harvest to the constant cycle of Dionysus. Personally for me, the picture was drawn out clearly. The music produced by both the orchestra and Mr. Yau was in such spiritual harmony that the picture of Dionysus being torn to shreds by his followers was clearly visible in the listener's head.
The next selection on this absolutely fabulously and stunningly brought - together program was Ghost Train composed by Eric Whitacre in 1995. This piece consisted of three movements: movement one, movement two, movement three...wait. What was I trying to say? Oh, yes! I was trying to say The Ride, At The Station (Margaret Nygard playing a solo within the piece), and Motive Resolution. The first movement of this glorious composition - I will mention the shushing noises made by the performers to resemble the sounds made by a train - was evokingly ( I know. I know that's not a word) vehement for both the performer and listener. Even the audience members who were sleeping (darn that one-hour time change) during Mackey's Harvest seemed to awake in the splendor of musical instruments joining forces to create beauteous music.
The next piece after intermission was Shepherd's Hey by Percy Grainger. This piece had a light feel to it. I particularly enjoyed the concept of having the full band orchestra on stage instead of only the wind ensemble. Irish Tune From County Derry, the next piece performed, was by the same composer and is perfect for the upcoming holiday of Saint Patrick's Day! The last piece on the program was George Washington Bridge by William Schuman. This piece was performed by the symphonic band. Maestro Hogarth faced the audience to announce the last piece and mentioned the concert band coming out in a few minutes to perform the last piece. But the concert band had already performed the first two pieces! Alright, Maestro Hogarth then realized his mistake and said something about the wind ensemble getting ready to perform their last selection. At this point people sitting in the audience began shouting out to Maestro Hogarth that it was the symphonic band which was about to come on stage. And yes, it really was the symphonic band.
"I even had my notes in front of me," said Maestro Hogarth, pulling out from behind his back a pack of papers with something written on them.
Okay, so now I'm off to tonight's Orchestra Concert. See you there!