A strong part of the wind band tradition in every country is to play a type of music called a march. You hear these in nearly every nation’s patriotic repertoire. On the evening of June 12, you will be called to attention by the amazing sounds and performance of the THS concert band at the Black Box Theater, opening with Call of Duty, a rousing march composed by Gene Milford.
Between 12 to 20 students have been coming up two to three times a week before school and four times a week during lunch and recess time on their own accord to practice and perfect their parts. During this session, the students lead their own rehearsal, help one another and receive guided instruction from the music teacher. I am elated and proud of the commitment, grit and joy that all students in the concert band program have demonstrated during this academic year.
Our concert promises a riveting program including around five ensembles performing with musical instruments, singing and dancing. The trumpets, a section full of ebullient young students, begin Call of Duty with a triumphant bugle call. The trumpet originated as an instrument meant to organize townspeople for royalty’s arrival or signal military troops to order. The rest of the ensemble joins punctuating the harmonic structure of the piece. A huge challenge was met by our Grade 6 to 8 ensemble this year as they change keys in the middle of the piece and the “B” theme is introduced as a more melodic and lyrical feel with a hint of emotional chromaticism. The piece finishes by tying the two themes together for a fun final “stinger” of a note.
Earlier that same week, the Grade 4 students will be hosting the school’s annual Renaissance Faire at the Grove and our combined concert band will provide the music for the opening ceremony. For those of you attending the Faire, do pay attention to our second piece entitled Renaissance Dance which was originally composed by Tielman Susato more than 500 years ago in the 16th century. Composer Bill Calhoun has provided an arrangement of the piece that our band has courageously taken on. The piece honors the traditions of Renaissance era music with its use of hand drums, historically made with animal skin, and staccato style. Our trombone section, a section with the largest instruments, moves the piece along through the two themes as a bass line and fanfare trumpets pair with the snare drum after the woodwind section takes over the melody.
The final piece is a student favorite, and will showcase the talent and resilience of our young concert band. Robert W. Smith is a well known concert band composer who gained popularity in the 1980’s and 1990’s for his cinematic and invigorating compositions. The enthusiasm from our students persuaded me to hand out this piece of music just four weeks before the concert - not a lot of time for a Grade 6 to 8 band that meet only once a week. The Tempest starts with a foreboding low clarinet melody which showcases our student’s tone. Gentle wind chimes establish the mysterious feel and suddenly a driving tempo with tutti ensemble hits and erupts onto the scene. The main melodic content of the piece is delivered by our talented and resilient saxophone and flute sections.
While I am not surprised by the growth and progress of the band as I fully believe that every student can learn and play music instruments, I am overjoyed that they have taken on the challenge with such joy and wonder. All students are welcome in this band program and I have come to rely on the musical leadership of our most diligent musicians of which there are many. Thank you parents for supporting the band and creating this experience for your child. Please do join us on Wednesday, 6pm on June 12 at the Black Box Theater to listen to the sweet sounds of our concert band.