Assoc. Arts & Culture Editor
Autumn is usually seen as a time for patriotic holidays such as Veterans Day, and the time when the leaves on the trees change color. For the Millersville University Music Department’s fall band concert, “To the Colors,” the Millersville Concert Band, Orchestra and Wind Ensemble certainly highlighted those aspects of the fall season.
The Concert Band, conducted by Dr. Keith Wiley, opened the concert with “American Barn Dance” by Richard L. Saucedo. It opened subdued with a xylophone, but it quickly became much more festive and lively before transitioning into a smoother, calmer tone and then ending on a festive note again. The next piece, “Autumn Leaves,” highlighted the woodwinds, the bassoon in particular, while showcasing the melancholy side of the autumn season and possibly the chilly transition into winter.
Dr. Wiley explained that their next piece, “The Greatest Generation: A Tribute to Their Legacy” by Julie Giroux, was a tribute to the people who lived through and survived the Great Depression and World War II, and the style in the piece was a reflection of that era. The piece started off with swinging jazz, but that suddenly stopped, and then the music became slow and subdued to show the uneasiness of the Great Depression and WWII. However, towards the end, the piece became jazzy and lively. It was reminiscent of the jazz style known as the Big Band era that was popular in the 1940s.
The MU Orchestra, led by Dr. Vera Volchansky, then took the stage to perform a few famous and recognizable orchestral pieces. First they played the smooth, romantic “Air” from Suite No. 3 in D Major by Johannes Bach, which was followed by Symphony No. 1, “Molto Allegro” by Wolfgang Mozart and then concluding their section of the concert with “Les Preludes,” S. 97, Symphony Poem No. 3 by Franz Liszt.
The Wind Ensemble, which was conducted by Dr. Mark Yingling, followed up after the Orchestra. Their first piece was the powerful “Commando March” by Samuel Barber. Their next piece was written in 1988 by Johan de Meij as part of a 40-minute symphony about different characters from “The Lord of the Rings.” This one was called “Gandalf the Wizard,” and the piece certainly fit the character, as it went from majestic, mystical and whimsical to mysterious and cryptic. The third piece was a chorale entitled “Dusk” by Peter Graham. It was a piece that was both calm and passionate at the same time and had bold dynamics, and Dr. Yingling explained that Graham wrote it to embody the “dramatic stillness” that happens at dusk. Their last piece was “The Red Machine” by Peter Graham, which featured the piece “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
For the finale, the Concert Band, Orchestra, String Chamber Ensemble and the Wind Ensemble combined together for the “Armed Forces Salute” that was arranged by Robert Lowden, another patriotic piece that is usually played on Veterans Day to honor the people who have served the United States.
“To the Colors” turned out to be another well done concert from Millersville University’s Department of Music. Along with the jazz, march, and classical pieces that highlighted the colors of the season, there were also patriotic pieces for Veterans Day.
Hopefully, the Music Department has more great concerts in store for the spring semester.