The university orchestra and concert band have been working all semester to ensure that music is brought to campus throughout the year.
Members of both bands have been working hard to return as part of the concerts as COVID-19 has brought many restrictions on live performances. They recently returned to the stage and picked up where they left off.
The University Band is led by graduate associates Christopher DT Lawhorne and David T. Potter.
The University Band and Concert Band’s first performance this spring was on Monday, February 28 at the Frank Moody Music Building. The performance was the 103rd program of the 2021-2022 season, and there is one performance left before the end of the semester.
The performance was full of sweet melodies and intricate moving moments that were uplifting and evocative.
They performed “Earth Song” in honor of Ukraine. The song is from a larger body of work called “Sanctuary”. The song was dynamic, using slow and painful trumpet solos that were brimming with emotion.
“Earth Song” was originally chosen for students, symbolizing healing and recovery from the effects of COVID-19.
“As things started to unfold in Ukraine, we pulled that coin, and I told them that I think we picked that coin for you, but we think that coin now means even more because of things happening in our world,” Lawhorne said. . “I think the play evoked this communication in the performance for Ukraine. The students bought into this concept because they understood it was for something bigger than themselves.
After the University Band, the Concert Band performed “Titanium!” by Jon Bubbett, “Things are Changing!” by Jeremy Smith, “The Legacy of Orpheus” by Russell Greene, “Bluebonnet Drift” by Aaron Perrine, “Flight of Fancy” by Timothy Johnson and finally “Homeward Bound March” by John Philip Sousa.
UA Group Instructor P. Justin White conducted, with guest chefs Jon Bubbett and Russell Greene.
Three of these plays were world premieres and two were premieres in the state of Alabama. Two of the composers of these creations were present that evening.
“To me, performing them meant that the University of Alabama was going to be the state’s flagship for creating plays. Our students will have the latest and most catchy music to play. My goal is for them to be exposed to the best musicians and the best music possible,” White said.
“Things change!” was one of the world’s first. It began as the symphony slowly rose into a rapid silence that repeated many times. The instruments slowly came together to create a whimsical sound. This was contrasted by a dark and intense change that can be linked to the title of this piece. It came back into the lighter tones from the start, then came back once more.
“Bluebonnet Drift” was performed electro-acoustically. The sound of electric guitar and saxophone beaming through the speakers complemented the harmonies of the symphony well and left the audience in awe as the performance ended.
“I think that’s the characteristic of wind music. I think that’s how we make what we do relevant. I really think electronics are the way of the future for acoustic wind instruments, with their addition,” White said. “It’s not just a cross-country track. It is actually triggered with musicians.
Guest soloist Diane Schultz played piccolo during “Flight of Fancy,” which sounded hopeful and reminiscent of spring.
White said he was grateful to share the stage with Schultz, as she was one of his teachers during his undergraduate years.
The performance ended with “Homeward Bound March”, a song reminiscent of a marching band with its fast, short tempo. The song drifted to a slow, calmer beat, then returned to the intense beat. Towards the end there was a shift to a soft, whimsical sound from the first two rows of the symphony, which created a contrast.
“The students played extremely well, they really showed up to play real music, not just the notes and the page beats,” Potter said. “The audience really seemed to enjoy the music that was being played.”
Students have the chance to discover the two groups this month with their next show scheduled for April 21st. The show is free and details can be found on the School of Music website.
Questions? Email the Culture Office at [email protected].