Wednesday, April 23, 2008

An Upcoming Audition and Something completely different

Audition news from the Milwaukee Festival Brass

Mark May 23rd on your calendar. The Milwaukee Festival Brass will hold auditions for adults wishing to be on their sub list, but there are immediate openings in the group for Bb tuba and Eb tuba. Also included will be auditions for the Milwaukee Festival Brass High School Apprentice Program. This is a new program and looks to be a wonderful way for high school musicians to gain more experience. See the Milwaukee Festival Brass web site for more details:

A different type of Community Music Group

There is a community music group based in Appleton that is different from all of the groups I've written about before. The group is the Fox Valley Horns, all french horns all the time! The group is made up of many middle and high school students, as well as adults. Everyone volunteers their time to make music, french horn style. I think this group is special because it allows those just starting out on the horn to play with more accomplished and experienced horn players. Everyone has fun...and that's what music should be!

The Fox Valley Horns have a concert coming up on Saturday May 10th at 1 PM in the Bethany Lutheran Church, 520 West Parkway, in Appleton. The featured soloist is Bruce Atwell, professor of Horn at UW Oshkosh. He will perform Jimmy Van Heusen's Here's That Rainy Day. Also on the program is Norwegian Suite, arranged by Cynthia Carr, a former professor of Horn at Lawrence University. The featured piece is an arrangement of the 1812 Overture for Horn Choir. This will be a fun concert and I encourage everyone to attend.

I heard a great story about how the Horn Choir was able to get the music for the 1812 Overture. Last year the Horn Choir performed an arrangement of music from the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves for horns. The performance was captured on video and posted on YouTube. It turns out that a horn choir in Japan saw this and posted their performance of the 1812 Overture as well. Don Krause, the director of the Horn Choir, contacted the group in Japan to find out where they got the music. Turns out that the arranger is in Florida and was kind enough to send the music to Don. And so it goes...

Groups like this are special in my view. Everyone enjoys themselves, good music is made, and young students learn a bunch. It doesn't get any better than this.

See you on the 10th.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It doesn't happen that often

It's always a number of years between their concerts here in Milwaukee...

Last Friday, April 11th, marked a return visit by "The President's Own" United States Marine Band. They performed both Friday night and Saturday afternoon in conjunction with MENC: The National Association for Music Educators conference. We attended the Friday concert and I saw representatives from many community bands around the Milwaukee area: the Knightwind Ensemble, Milwaukee American Legion Band, Milwaukee Concert Band, the Racine Concert Band, and the Milwaukee Festival Brass. And I'm sure that other bands from the area were also represented in the audience.

I've been lucky enough to see the Marine Band perform 4 or 5 times, and I am always impressed by the quality of their performances. No, I take that back: I am blown away by their performances. They may very well be the best symphonic band in the world.

Let me just list as few observations about the performance. The ensemble work is unbelievably clean. This was evident in the performance of Shostakovich's Festive Overture, the Grainger Children's March, and Respighi's Roman Festivals. I was also amazed at the differences in dynamics. There were times when we had to lean forward (from the balcony) to hear the music played at pp, while we were blown away when they played fff. Some of my goosebumps had goosebumps.

There was no downside to the concert, but there was a downside to the audience. The program included the world premiere of Scamp by Melinda Wagner. It is a very interesting piece, mischievious in nature but a lot of fun to listen to (and a bear to play, I bet). Unfortunately, a couple of former Marines in the row in front of us were not interested in the music and were discussing something among themselves. The piece was tough enough to listen to, as there was so much going on, without having to tune out conversation as well. They just did not realize that this part of the program was aimed at the MENC conventioneers (and a few members of community bands in the audience), not at former Marines. What a shame.

Their performance of Respighi's Roman Festivals brought the audience to their feet. After a well deserved standing ovation and a few curtain calls, the Band performed the most appropriate encore: The Marine Hymn.

An evening doesn't get any better than that.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Waukesha Area Symphonic Band Concert April 25

The Waukesha Area Symphonic Band under the direction of Rick Kirby will present a special concert on Friday April 25th at the Shattuck Auditorium on the campus of Carroll College. The concert will feature the winner of the 2008 WASB Concerto Competition, trumpeter Brandon Viliunas. The concert will also benefit Waukesha's Adaptive Community Approach Program. More on that later.

Brandon Viliunas is a Senior at Greendale High School and has been playing the trumpet for 8 years. He has performed with the UWM Youth Wind Symphony and the MYSO Senior Symphony. At Greendale, he participates in jazz band, concert band, pit orchestra, marching band, and pep band. He is a member of the National Honor Society and participates on the Tennis Team for Greendale High School. He'll perform Herbert Clarke's variations on Carnival of Venice.

The concert program, Music From The Silver Screen, will include the Prelude from the 49th Parallel of Vaughn-Williams, music from Porgy and Bess, and swashbuckler music by Antonin Dvorak and John Williams.

WASB has been performing an annual benefit concert for a local charity for a number of years. This year the concert will benefit Waukesha's Adaptive Community Approach Program, which serves adults with physical disabilities in Waukesha County. They support a wide variety of programs from graffiti effacing to lawn and garden work to meal cooking. Certainly a worthwhile recipient.

Tickets are $10 and are available at the door. For more information, please call 262-370-6129.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Did you ever wonder?

Were you ever curious about what happens behind the scenes at a concert? The Knightwind Ensemble concert was Sunday (and went very well, thank you). My job on concert day is all of the things that happen in the lobby. I thought I would list a few of the interesting things that happened this weekend.

Saturday - We picked up the rental truck (to transport all of the percussion equipment) and had to replan our weekend when the rental company told us they no longer allow off-hour truck returns. Took a while, but we were able to complete the change in 3 people's schedules to comply with this surprise (never had that problem before). The dress rehearsal went very well.

Sunday - Arrived at the concert hall and set up the ticket table. We had about 12 to 15 sets of tickets held at Will Call. The good news is that almost all of them were picked up. Even though it was a nice day, we had a good number of "at the door" sales. So far, so good.

Once the concert was underway, I had to change the lobby to the intermission layout, so that people could congregate and visit. We could show off our commendation from the Milwaukee County Board and promote our Friends group.

One of my duties on concert day is to address the audience before the second half begins and alert them to our different fund raising programs. That also went well. The audience laughed in the right places. At the end of my presentation I invited people to stop by and view the Sudler Silver Scroll, the International Award from the Sousa Foundation that we received in 2005. This time three people stopped by to take a look after the concert, including a grade school student just starting in her school band. That's always nice.

After intermission, I set the lobby for people to pass by two of our fund raising programs on their way out. We ask the audience to help us buy new music and we place an old field drum on the table near the center of the lobby. Setting that up quietly is sometimes a challenge!

After the concert, one very nice lady complemented my side burns....that doesn't happen every day!

Just one other note: I was able to hear only one piece of music because of all the activity in preparing the lobby.

Now, wasn't that a fun way to spend a day?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Rehearsal Notes - Part 2 and a Special Deal

My last post described a number of pieces being rehearsed for the Knightwind Ensemble concert coming up this Sunday April 6th at 3 PM in the Schwan Concert Hall at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Here's an update from last night's rehearsal.

The ensemble performed the concert end to end last night. It is really coming together well. Saturday's dress rehearsal in the concert hall will give everyone the chance to hear what it will sound like for the concert on Sunday. There were two pieces that I did not mention in the last post that were rehearsed last night.

The Dam Busters - This English march is really very nice. The group has this one in hand and it will provide a nice start to the second half.

The Suite from Robin Hood, Price of Thieves - This work is a concert suite of the music from the Kevin Costner movie. Lots of drama, as in all movie music. The horn and trumpet parts are really tough, and the group performed them very well last night. Lots of goose bumps to finish the second half of the concert.

The encore - I won't tell you what the piece is, but I will tell you that it is a new arrangement of a very familiar work by a very famous composer. You'll just have to attend the concert to hear this - its great!

The Man Who Invented Music - Again, the piece was rehearsed with our guest narrator, Mr. Norman Moses. The timing is now coming together and the flow was wonderful. I was able to find an old recording of this work that the group performed 20 years ago, and the current performance is light years ahead of that performance. What a delightful piece.


Print this blog posting and bring it to the concert on Sunday and you will receive $1 off every adult admission in your group as a Thank You for reading the Milwaukee Community Music blog!