Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brilliant colors: “in Memorium” concert enriches audience

A strong choice of music with plenty of brilliant tonal colors made Saturday night’s “In Memorium” concert what every concert should be, entertaining, edifying and illuminating.
Much of the evening honored veterans, but there were other musical memorials, too, by the Rolla Wind Ensemble and the Rolla Community Choir in their first-ever concert, which was sponsored by Arts Rolla.
One particularly strong performance was “I Am,” by Andrew Boysen Jr. The title comes from a poem by an Iowa high school band musician who was killed in car crash. Boysen was commissioned to write the music and he wrote it as an affirmation of life rather than an elegy. This was a rich piece of music done well by the Wind Ensemble.
Another piece of richness was “Inchon,” by Robert W. Smith. written about the Korean War battle. Particularly interesting was the stationing of young musicians with drum heads around the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church, the concert venue, to add the sounds of machine gun and artillery fire and helicopters in flight. This piece included an alto-flute and ocean drums.
Another rich orchestration was “American Elegy,” by Frank Ticheli, written as a commemoration of the Columbine High School massacre of 12 students and 1 teacher by two disturbed students. Ticheli said the music, at least much of it, came to him in a dream.
Those three selections were the highlights for this reviewer, but that shouldn’t be construed to mean the other selections were second-rate. On the contrary, the whole evening was strong in every way.
It started off with “Star! by Stephen Melillo, which was an arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
I was so thrilled that the Wind Ensemble included a John Philip Sousa march, “George Washington Bicentennial March.” Some folks shun Sousa and that’s a shame.
The Rolla Community Choir joined the Wind Ensemble for “Star!” and for “The Mansions of the Lord,” which was sung at President Reagan’s funeral, and “Song for the Unsung Hero.”
The Wind Ensemble included a crowd favorite, “Armed Forces Salute,” Bob Lowden’s medley arrangement of the songs of the military services. Veterans stood when their branch’s song was played.
The evening closed with the choir and ensemble together on “God of Our Fathers,” arranged by Claude T. Smith.
It was truly a pleasing evening. The printed program noted that John Francis of KMST recorded the concert. I don’t know if that means it will be aired; I hope so.
Musical director Craig D. French, choir director Jeff Sandquist and all the singers and musicians gave us an emotionally enriching evening, and I thank them.

No comments: