FHSU bands excel in last concert of season

5/8/2012

Friday evening, the FHSU Symphonic Winds and Wind Ensemble concluded a strong season with a concert full of interesting and unusual pieces. Both groups gave first-rate performances and earned standing applause.

The Symphonic Winds began with “First Suite in E flat for Military Band” by Gustav Holst, “first work by a major composer written expressly for band” (program note). The suite consists of three movements; each movement was conducted by a different student conductor. Melia Korbe led the first movement, Nathan Brown the second, and Matt Rome the third.  Conductor Lane Weaver gave the audience permission to applaud after each movement. All three students proved they had mastered the score and could keep a large band together, but Rome, a showman conducting the flashiest movement, got the biggest hand.

Weaver conducted the remainder of the program, which concluded with a masterpiece of band music, Eric Whitacre’s hilarious “Godzilla Eats Las Vegas!” The piece purports to be the soundtrack for a movie and in accordance with an “advance copy script” written in the program, the music imitates the sounds of the events taking place, revealing the “enormous palette of sonorities available to concert bands” (program note). We hear Godzilla (stomping), destroying cars (crashes), tourists scream (members of the band holler), a dog barks, Godzilla stomps Sinatra (with citation of “I’ll be seeing you”). An army of Elvises (Elvi) (with citation of “Love Me Tender”) seemingly destroys Godzilla, but stomping announces his return. 

After this, conductor Jeff Jordan and the Wind Ensemble had a tough act to follow, but they succeeded, also exploring the outer limits of band literature. A complex “Fanfare” by Hugo Montenegro, arranged for concert band by John Tatgenhorst announced great things to come. First was Vincent Persichetti’s first composition for concert band, “Divertimento for Band,” a gem of a six-movement work with many facets of mood, instrumentation and tonalities.

Henry Fillmore’s “The Klaxon,” another hilarious and flashy piece, came later. According to the program note, the composer invented “a new instrument made of automobile horns or klaxons and chrome plated trumpet bells, powered by a car battery and called—naturally—the klaxophone.” I guess the Depression called for desperate measures. “The Klaxon” was written in 1930 to sell cars.  

Best wishes to all for a happy and successful future.

Ruth Firestone is a supporter of music and theater in Hays. rfiresto@fhsu.edu

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