Spring Band Concert and Art Show

May 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Thursday evening, May 17, parents, siblings, family friends, teachers and administrators filed into the gym. The warm-ups ended as the concertmaster walked down the aisle and played his “A.” The rest of the band tuned to his note, conductor Dr. Brian Bartel made his entrance, and the show was underway.

The Purple Concert Band, made up of Band I students, has come a long way since the Winter Band Concert last semester. At that time their skills were primarily in note reading, and everyone played the same melody. During the second semester, Dr. Bartel introduced not only sectional harmonies, but also dynamics: changing volume and varying tempos. As usual, the nine percussionists rotated among their various instruments: crash cymbals, bass drum, timpani, stand cymbals, snare drum, bells, maracas, triangle, tambourine, and woodblocks. The first set had an international flavor, beginning with “El Capitan,” an American march by John Philip Sousa. This was followed by the equally popular (in hockey circles, at least) “O Canada!” for our neighbors to the north. Russia was represented by Tschaikovsky’s “Marche Slave” and two more countries with “Egyptian Dance” by French composer Camille Saint-Saens from his opera Samson and Delilah. Then came a Chinese folk tune in a slower tempo, “Silver Moon Boat,” and it was back home for F. W. Meacham’s lively “American Patrol” a combination of several folk tunes, but made famous by Glenn Miller’s swing version, known by its wartime lyrics, “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (with anyone else but me).” The set closed with two pieces with varying tempos: a soulful African-American spiritual, “Wayfarin’ Stranger,” and an energetic Latin American favorite, “La Cucaracha.”

John Reyes, Still Life with Fruit, acrylic on canvas

The Phantom Jazz Band took over with Miles Davis’ “Tune Up” and their own jazz arrangement of a medley from this spring’s musical, Fiddler on the Roof. They closed with “Stolen Moments” by Oliver Nelson. Dr. Bartel watched from the sidelines as the musicians played. He emphasized to the audience that the Jazz Band is not a separate class; it is entirely “student-organized, with student-led rehearsals.” They meet voluntarily at lunch and after school to rehearse, and Dr. Bartelacts “simply to facilitate, copying music and coaching large-scale issues, such as the building of arrangements.” Their performance, he insisted, has “very little to do with me and very much to do with them.”

Seth Averill-Murphy, Still Life with Flowers, acrylic on canvas

This year the combo includes a keyboard because saxophonist Matt Nuesca also plays the piano. Other jazz musicians are Paolo Cruz and Azriel Caballero, saxophone; Adrian Castillo, trumpet; Andrew Flores and Ian Gomez, guitar; Franklin Muñoz, percussion; Andrew Bille, vibraphone; Ian Tadeo, flute; and Gus Puga, bass guitar. While their musical expertise is admirable, even more impressive is that many of these young men, Mr. Puga among them, had never played an instrument before coming to Cathedral as freshmen. And several of them look forward to another year of music before they graduate in 2013. It just goes to show what can be accomplished with a good teacher and a lot of practice. Hmm, I wonder if that applies to any other areas of high school….

Acrylic on canvas by Romario Leyva

During intermission art teacher Jamie Murphy discussed the work of his seniors in Studio Art II. These students have learned the basics of drawing, value, proportion, line control and composition, so the next step is to introduce them to “emotive representation,” the artistic equivalent of dynamics in music. By using acrylics instead of oils, he explained, students work with a sense of urgency because the colors dry so quickly. This also “liberates [them] from the need for control,” he continued, because they know their efforts “can be reworked quickly” as well, unlike work in oil. It also forces them to see their first attempt as a draft that will have to be revised because there is not enough time to get everything right the first time. Hmm. Sort of like writing an essay….

Romario Leyva’s restrained geometric composition is “beautifully rendered” and stands in stark contrast to the “colorful, aggressive brush strokes” of the “sculptural painting” so reminiscent of German Expressionism of his fellow Phantoms. Mr. Murphy encouraged applying “three or four colors” to the brush (and hence, to the canvas) at one time. Among the works that best meet these demanding criteria are Steve Lee’s “Self-Portrait,” John Reyes’ “Still Life with Fruit” and Seth Averill-Murphy’s “Still Life with Flowers.” This kind of art is “a physical process and not for the faint of heart,” he concluded.

Self-Portrait by Steve Lee, acrylic on canvas

After intermission it was the turn of the Cathedral Symphonic Band, made up of students in Band II/III/and IV. They began with “Mars, the Bringer of War,” a movement from Gustav Holst’s The Planets. At the winter concert, the band played “Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity” a chorale from the same work. Holst also composed the second piece of the set, “First Suite in E Flat,” made up of two movements – a slower chaconne and a livelier march. Then they played a medley of music from Phantom of the Opera – three tunes woven together into a concert piece: “All I Ask of You,” “The Music of the Night,” and the title song, “Phantom of the Opera.” Dr. Bartel introduced the next work as “the most famous soprano aria in all of opera,” from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, “O Mio Babbino Caro” (O my beloved Daddy). The set finished with “March to the Scaffold” from the Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz, which concludes with the hero’s decapitation!

The concert closed with all the band students combining their talents to perform Cathedral’s Alma Mater.

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