The non-audition Colorado State University Concert Band performed their first concert of the semester on Sunday, presenting the audience with an engaging repertoire consisting of French compositions and inspired works. The band welcomed a nearly full house to the free event in Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center for the Arts.
“The band, full of majors from nearly every walk of life on our campus, is committed to making excellent music as a way to deepen our enjoyment of life and our understanding of ourselves in a broad and diverse world,” said Director Erik Johnson in a press release.
The performance began with “Clockwork” by Stuart P. O’Neil, a percussion feature accompanied by a flute solo. The rhythmic ticking elements provided a syncopated background for the solo, performed by Alyson Lhungay.
“The culture, environment and music of concert band is different from the dynamic of marching band,” Lhungay said. “It’s definitely been a challenge to step up to the plate, but I’ve also learned to be more in tune with the band around me during rehearsals leading up to the concert.”
The concert continued through a timeline of French-inspired music, going back to the classical era with “Ecossaise for Military Band, WoO 22” by Ludwig van Beethoven, arranged by Todd Stalter. The light theme introduced a call-and-response fanfare between high and low voices, giving the audience a historical element after the modern introductory pieces.
“During rehearsal, we went over the history of each piece and learned about the meaning of it,” said tenor saxophonist Alex Hutchinson. “It really helped us connect with the music.”
The performance moved ahead through the ages for a duo of French pieces: “Reverie” by Claude Debussy, arranged by Erik Morales, and “Sicilienne” by Gabriel Faure, arranged by Larry Clark. The dreamlike and haunting melodies grew with a slow and smooth articulation. Both pieces switched between major and minor keys. Piano accompaniment led a dynamic contrast up to intense, high-volume conclusions.
The level of the music has increased with each year, said Bethany Roof, a senior performing in her last semester with the CSU Concert Band.
“It’s a lot of different styles of music, but we’ve had weekly rehearsals to work on difficult parts for the whole ensemble and learn to connect with each other and with the music,” Roof said. “It’s been a really great experience to perform with the group and make new friends.”
The band performed a two-step: “Turtle’s Retort” by Frank Bridge, arranged by Mark Fonder. The bouncing reed melody in a major key set the ensemble up for variations of the theme and diverse dynamics, while the low brass maintained a counter-melody against the main theme.
“In the Forest of the King” by Pierre la Plante presented three movements of French children’s folk songs. Two quick-tempo and lively songs surrounded a ballad in the second movement, building up to another powerful melody in the middle of the piece despite soft articulation.
The performance closed with “City of Lights” by Andrew Watkin, a syncopated piece inspired by the can-can that had audience members bobbing in time with the music. The sforzando at the conclusion of the piece ended the concert with a blasted final beat.
Members of the concert band agree that although music plays an enormous role in their experience with the ensemble, the personal connections truly make their participation worth it.
“Playing with others is always a great experience no matter what ensemble you’re in,” Hutchinson said.
Members of the band exchanged heartfelt congratulations in the lobby after the end of the concert, proving that emotional connections and friendships give the CSU Concert Band its unique dynamic.
Collegian reporter Mckenzie Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mkenziemoore172.