To kick off Homecoming weekend, Wittenberg’s Symphonic Band hosted its first show of the year on Friday night. The “Homecoming Hoopla” concert consisted of five pieces, including “Lux Aurumque” and “The Machine Awakes,” composed by popular musicians Eric Whitacre and Steven Bryant, respectively.
Director Brandon Jones is celebrating his eleventh year at Wittenberg, and expressed great joy in working with the students in the music department.
“The band gets better and better every year,” Jones said.
After a few tuning notes from a clarinetist, the concert started with “Tempered Steel” by Charles Rochester Young.
“As we grow stronger and more resilient through hardship, we become ‘tempered,’” Young wrote. “’Tempered Steel’ is a celebration of our triumph over these unavoidable hardships that we regularly face.”
This piece certainly reflected a celebration. With a heavy, booming brass melody, the adventurous acoustics of both a woodwind and brass choir filled Weaver Chapel.
The next piece was “English Dances,” arranged by Maurice Johnstone. This piece consists of four movements: “Andantino,” “Vivace,” “Mesto” and “Allegro Risoluto.”
The first movement was made up of soft, romantic woodwind melodies that showed off the band’s dynamic abilities. The second movement was the perfect contrast. With cheerful woodwind sixteenth note runs, this movement was loud and exciting. The third movement gave the band an opportunity to show off their beautifully blended acoustic sound. Finally, the fourth movement, “Allegro Risoluto” — which translates to “fast and strong” — was just that. The short notes created a bouncy melody that gave an entertaining ending to the piece.
The next piece was “The Machine Awakens.” This piece played with the pairing of acoustic timbres of the wind ensemble and electronic beats. With a catchy electronic beat under the band, the result was a very unique sound and was a refreshing contrast to the other pieces.
The fourth piece was entitled “Lux Aurumque.” This beautiful piece was originally written for a choir, but when composer Whitacre came in contact with the range of sounds that a wind band can produce, he rewrote the piece for bands. This piece is unique in that the rhythms aren’t what makes it complicated, but instead, the tuning and exposed entrances make this extremely difficult. The soft minor chords and lullaby style gave me chills, and made the piece my favorite of the night by far.
Finally, the Latin “El Camino Real” piece made for a fun finale. With a beautifully executed oboe solo, the woodwinds sang their sweet song. Quick to change, the piece adopted a quick tempo and impressive dynamic changes to make it catchy and entertaining.
Overall, the concert was a great way to kick off Homecoming, and kudos to the Symphonic Band for a fantastic show.