Sunday, April 24, 2005

Purdue Bands Showcase II

Purdue Bands presented their Showcase concerts this weekend. I was able to attend the Symphonic Band and Symphony Orchestra concert today.

I almost didn't make it for the opening because I went to the wrong venue. Long Center was dark and lonely. I walked down the aisle in Elliott just as they finished tuning.

The Symphonic Band sounded great - as always. They opened with Zampa Overture; a piece I played in Guy Foreman's Michigan City Municipal Band in the early 80s. Next, Dr. Timothy Mahr conducted his composition "Fantasia in G". It was a nice modern piece, and I especially liked the way he used the trombones (as a 'bone player, I'm partial to these types of works). Also, notable was "Escapade" by Joseph Spaniola. It is a mix of modern Classical and mid-century jazz, and was executed quite well.

After a bit of a stumble by PETE (Purdue Euphonium and Tuba Ensemble) caused by a sheet music malfunction, the Horn sections performed "Festmusik für Acht Hörner" by Rudolf Mayer. This could have been three minutes shorter.

[Jennifer Iles on Flute]The Symphony Orchestra performed three pieces, starting with a flute concerto performed by Jennifer Iles. She offered a great performance, with solid backing by a chamber-sized orchestra. The full orchestra followed with nice readings of a Broadway medley and a movie march.

As I mentioned above, the concert was held in Elliot Hall of Music, not the Long Center for Performing Arts. There are both good and bad points with the change in location.

This hall just sounds better. I could actually hear the low brass, and everything sounded very balanced. I hope it sounds as good on the stage as it does in the house.
More Seating
The big problem with Long Center is that it isn't quite big enough for the crowd. My son and I like sitting in the balcony so that we can watch the percussion, but the last couple of concerts have found us way up in the cheap seats. There is plenty of room on the floor of Elliott for everyone.
Close to Home
If I hadn't made the unnecessary trip downtown, I could have driven to this concert in half the time of the Lafayette trip. I'll know for next time
More Seating
There are so many more seats in Elliott that the crowd was very spread out and towards the back of the hall. It must be a little troublesome to the performers to see all of the empty seats in the front. I was in Row KK and only had 2 people in front of me. They should rope off the back half of the main hall to push the audience closer.
I had a tough time seeing the players from my seat. Since I'm used to watching from the balcony, floor seats offered less of a view of the percussion. An even bigger problem was the 9 foot grand piano in front of the band! In Long Center, they place the piano at the back of the group. Finally, there were three 15 foot mic stands at the front of the stage that were very obtrusive. I would think that they should be able to hang them from the ceiling or find another way to record the performance.

All in all, another great show by Jay Gephart and his groups. I look forward to the next set in the Fall. (Plus, I look forward to playing in the Summer Concert Band in June and July).

"Sheet music malfunction" - ?? I have visions of sheet music doing, well, things that defy my limited understanding of the laws of gravity. :-)
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