Two Band Performances in One Weekend

October 22, 2010 at 9:00 am | Posted in Concerts | Leave a comment

This past weekend, Oct. 16 and 17, I played concerts with the two groups that I regularly play with other than the Indiana Wind Symphony—the Indianapolis Municipal Band and the Zionsville Concert Band. I won’t be reviewing either performance for the simple reasons that I might have a bias and I was too busy concentrating on playing my part to notice all the musical subtleties. Well, those and possibly because what the audience hears differs from what I hear sitting in the middle of the group.

But I might throw out a few observations.

The IMB performance, which was Saturday night, was a joint concert with the Greenwood Community Band and took place in Greenwood High School’s auditorium. The IMB played the first part of the concert, the Greenwood Band played the second part, and both bands joined forces for two numbers at the end.

Not having attended one of their performances before, the Greenwood band was a slight surprise. Although they are a community band that represents a city much smaller than Indianapolis, the number of members in their group was quite similar to that of the IMB. Offhand, I’d say the quality of playing was similar as well.

Being a low reed player myself, I noticed that the Greenwood Band has a baritone sax player, something the Municipal Band is currently lacking. They also had three bass clarinetists versus our one (me). The Municipal Band officially has three bass clarinets, but the other two haven’t been able to rehearse with us for a while because of scheduling conflicts. (You’d think that music would take precedence over work!) To me, the most surprising thing about Greenwood having three bass clarinetists is that, in Spring of last year, I recall seeing postings in the University of Indianapolis music building attempting to recruit a bass clarinet player for the Greenwood group. Apparently they got lucky and found more than they were looking for.

On the other hand, it’s possible that they may have converted a few existing clarinetists. The fact that Greenwood’s bassoon player was, just a few weeks ago, talked into switching from oboe to bassoon by the music director would back up that possibility.

The Municipal Band did have one low reed instrument that Greenwood didn’t, a contrabass clarinet (also me). I played the contra on one of the IMB’s numbers and one that the two groups played together.

I recognized a couple of the members of the Greenwood band because both are members of the Wind Symphony. The Municipal Band had three members present who also play with the Wind Symphony, for a total of five Wind Symphony members in the combined group.

The Zionsville Band has four members who also play with the Wind Symphony. Considering that it’s smaller than the Municipal Band or the Greenwood band, that’s a bit surprising.

The Zionsville Concert Band performance, held Sunday afternoon, was also a joint performance. In addition to the band, it included solos by soprano Jill Birch and three pieces played by North’s Horns, a French horn quintet from North United Methodist Church.

Everything didn’t go quite as planned during the concert. From what I understand, the French horn group found they were missing some of their music and one or two members had to leave to retrieve it. Fortunately, they were able to return with the music before the end of the concert and ended up playing near the end of the concert rather than near the beginning as originally planned.

The Municipal Band and Zionsville Band concerts did share one piece of music, John Phillip Sousa’s Power and Glory March. The Municipal Band ended their section of the Saturday concert with it and the Zionsville Band used it to open their concert. Again, without critiquing either group, I can say that the biggest difference in the ways the groups played it was the interpretation of the dynamics. This difference resulted, at least in part, from the Municipal band’s director, Dan Bolin, adding and emphasizing a few dynamic changes that weren’t annotated on the printed score.

In my opinion, both concerts, one in a town just south of Indianapolis, and the other in a town just northeast of Indianapolis, went well. Although, as I said earlier, I’m biased, I can say with disinterest that both audiences seemed pleased.

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