On the cloudy afternoon of Sunday, October 28, 2012, and with Hurricane Sandy underway, the Millersville Concert Band and Wind Ensemble presented their first concert at the Winter Visual and Performing Arts Center.
The concert, entitled “Musical Horizons: Past and Present,” featured a wide variety of traditional music from all over the world and of different eras, as well as a few innovative pieces from this decade.
The MU Concert Band, conducted by Dr. Keith Wiley, opened the concert strong with “Fanfare Prelude on the Italian Hymn.” Written in 1995 by James Curnow, it had a light yet majestic sound that displayed the wind section, especially the saxophones and flutes, as well as the brass section.
The next piece, “’Round Midnight” by Cootie Williams and Thelonius Monk, was a much slower, jazzier and even melancholy piece and an interesting transition from the lively opening piece.
Their last piece, called “Symphonic Suite” by Clifton Williams, was a definitely one of the more innovative and experimental pieces of the afternoon.
Dr. Wiley explained that this particular piece of music takes and melody and theme and constructs it through five different movements.
The first movement, “Intrada,”was the most majestic of the movements that featured the trumpets and the rest of the band echoing them. “Chorale,” the second movement, had a very slow, calming, and schmaltzy sound with emphasis on the wind sections.
The “March” movement was the liveliest of the movements, while the “Antique Dance” was the most unique. It started and closed with distorted percussion playing, with a very savage and almost otherworldly tone from the rest of the band in between. “Jubilee” brings “Symphonic Suite” to a peppy and bright close.
While all these movements were very different from each other in terms of tone and musicality, they all shared similar notes chords that were arranged to fit the particular movements.
After a brief break, the Wind Ensemble took the stage with Dr. John Zarco, the new Director of Bands at Millersville University, conducting. They opened with “Horizons,” a fast-paced and mystical piece that Zarco notes was written by John Leshnot for the opening of the new Visual Performing Arts Center.
Their next piece was “Variations of a Korean Folk Song,” which featured a wide variety of beautiful and exotic Asian sounds. It started as elegant and flowing, became slow and melancholy in the middle, and turned into quick and heavy march with emphasis on the percussion section.
“Dum Spiro Spero,” one of the more understated pieces of the concert, starts out muted and hushed but slowly builds and quickens to become more ethereal in the middle. It even featured small singing and chanting parts from certain sections before becoming muted again towards the end.
The concert quite literally ends on a bright note with Michael Markowski’s piece “Shine,” which Dr. Zarco says focuses on the brighter side of music and the higher register. It’s an upbeat and quick piece where even the percussion players are playing the more subdued and higher octaves of the xylophone, and while it does slow down a bit in the middle, it builds itself again and ends on a grand note.
This concert showed the versatility of both the Concert Band and the Wind Ensemble, and proved to be a successful debut for Dr. Zarco as the new director of the Wind Ensemble. Each piece in the concert had its own mood, story, and style to it, keeping the concert interesting and enjoyable.
The Concert Band and Wind Ensemble have another concert in the Winter Center scheduled for December 2nd alongside the MU Orchestra.