By Jaime Mirman
May 4, 2017 (San Diego) - The San Diego Concert Band presented its 28th Annual Spring Celebration Concert, Around the World in 90 Minutes, on April 25th at the Joan B. Kroc Performing Arts Theatre.
The program pieces took the listeners on a tour of performing excellence that engaged every musical resource of the 98-member strong Band, under the inspired and flawless baton of Mr. Roy Anthony, Jr.
The program opened with Heroic Fanfare, a brief and rousing piece by Julie Ann Giroux, an American composer of orchestral, choral, chamber and numerous band works.
American Fanfare by James M. Stephenson, written in 1999 resonated as a longer celebratory and solid piece, where the San Diego Concert Band became the essence of triumph by wielding its instrumental power.
Amparito Roca, a famous pasodoble written in 1925 by the Spanish composer Jaime Teixidor Dalmau is usually played in Spain at a moderate tempo, but in the US at a fast pace. Mr. Anthony imbued it with spirited salero (panache).
Ye Banks and Braes o'Bonnnie Doon is a folk setting by the Australian composer Percy Aldridge Grainger. After a slow introduction, the sentimental melody flowed with flexible inflections.
Funiculi-Funicula Rhapsody by Luigi Denza is a show stopper by the experienced Japanese arranger Yo Goto. It has been featured twice at the Association Concert Band National Conference and is a shining example of irrepressible Band instrumental prominence.
Folk Song Suite, by Ralph Vaughan Williams is a beloved piece originally written for Concert Band in 1923 by the English composer in three movements. The featured guest conductor was Dr. Gary M. Ciepluch, who in 2016 was recognized as the Outstanding Educator by the Ohio Music Education Association. His interpretation was laser-focused, definitive, and immersed the listeners in the radiant colorings of the Suite.
American Variations, by Jerry H. Bilik is based in the Scottish folk tune "Barbara Allen". This contemporary concert band masterpiece featured an assortment of dances from the cultural heritage of the
American people (including a Mexican jarabe and a Jewish horah).
A dozen teenage C. Hook dancers alternated in smaller groups illustrating the basic steps in each variation.
Golden Jubilee, a rarely performed march by John Philip Sousa reminded us of his command in musical writing for the marching band.
Preceded by a performance of “Great High Wind That Blew the Low Post Down”, an Irish folksong skillfully played as a duet with hammer dulcimer and a bodhran (drum) -original Irish folk instruments, The Irish Washerwoman from the "Irish Suite" by Leroy Anderson, presented us with an electrifyingly paced instrumental build up leading to a fugue exposition and an even faster closing.
Colonial Song, originally written for piano in 1911 by Percy Grainger, was in his own words "an attempt to write a melody as typical of the Australian countryside as Stephen Foster's exquisite songs are typical of rural America". Despite the fact that the melodies of Colonial Song are original and not folk song, they do convey a tender and evocative character.
Variations on a Korean Folk Song, a composition by John Barnes Chance is based on the Korean folk song "Aririang" and was awarded in 1966 the American Bandmasters Association's Ostwald Award.
Mr. Anthony and the Band enfolded the audience from the opening theme in unison, conjuring the harmonic and canonic resources of simultaneous variations blended in greater scale by the different instrumental sections.
Finale from The New World Symphony, by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák was the magnificent closing piece of the program.
Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 was written in 1893, and instantly became the most successful composition of his life. Mr. Roy Anthony, Jr. and the San Diego Concert Band delivered a glorious interpretation balancing the stupendous musical architecture of the work with artful musical finesse.
The awaited encore was Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever, where the San Diego Concert Band displayed all the required musical flair and fireworks from the stage.
Jaime Mirman graduated as the first French Horn Master in Music from the National University of Mexico.
He has played in Mexico at the National Symphony Orchestra and the Symphonic Band of the Ministry of Public Education, as well as chamber music, teaching, arranging, and writing musical articles.