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CU Concert Band Clears House

By James Hoyle
On March 9, 2016


Concord University’s Concert Band performed in the auditorium on March 4, at 6:00 p.m. Dr. David Ball conducted for the majority of the hour-long performance. The theme of the evening was decidedly American literature, though there were examples of many different variations on certain cultural pieces to be found. The songs played for the concert were a smattering of tried and true older tunes. First up was the song “Review”, a song that was first written and published roughly around the same time as the founding of Concord University. Dr. Ball said that he chose this piece since it is almost as old as the school itself, he wanted to have a kind of unity. 

    Up next was “Variations on a Korean Folk Song.” This piece, by John Barnes during his tenure in Korea during the Korean Conflict, was written in the late 1950s. It was published in 1965 and, in 1966, won the American Bandmasters Association’s Oswald Award. Though these folk songs were written for instruments that are not commonly used in orchestras or in a band, Barnes was nonetheless able to translate the melodies of these tunes to western instruments well. 

    Following this, the band played “American Riversongs.” Unlike the previous two songs played, Dr. Ball did not conduct this one. Instead, he handed the conductor’s baton off to Concord University senior Austin Bolden. Bolden, a music education major from Bluefield, West Virginia, according to Dr. Ball, has an interest not only in musical composition, but also in conducting. Bolden did well, and the piece was performed admirably by the band. 

    After these songs, what Dr. Ball called the “appetizers” of the concert, the band was ready to move forward with the main course of the night. The next song played was “Of Sailors and Whales,” a song in five movements by Pierre La Plante. This piece, based on the classic American novel “Moby Dick,” premiered in February 1990, and was performed by the California All-State Band. The piece was dedicated to Robert Lanon White, a Commander in the United States Navy who went to sea. In between each of the five movements, lines from the novel the piece was inspired by were quoted. These quotes were delivered by Dr. Gabriel Rieger, professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature here at Concord. With an authoritative voice, Rieger described what several of the characters looked like as well as the final clash between the White Whale and Captain Ahab. It was an intense piece. It is evident that a lot of care and practice went into it. One could almost hear the whale as it slammed into the side of the ship in the notes. 

    Finally, after all of the other songs had run their course, Dr. Ball ended the concert with “Benguine for Band”, a piece written in 1935 by Cole Porter. Soon after its publication, it was introduced by June Knight into the Broadway musical “Jubilee.” In 1938, it became popular thanks in part to performances by Artie Shaw, one of the most popular clarinet players and band leaders of all time. It was he that revised it and lengthened it for a swing orchestra. When Shaw signed on for a recording contract with RCA Victor, Shaw insisted that “Begin the Beguine” would be one of the first six recordings with his new band. 

    Overall, the concert band did well, and Concord University, as always, has much to be proud of. 

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