BANDING TOGETHER

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By Jaime Mirman

June 18, 2015 (La Mesa)--Our own San Diego Concert Band offered a concert on June 14 at Harry Griffen Park in La Mesa. The stage was surrounded by at least 250 enthusiastic listeners.

The Band was founded in 1989, and most of its members have not been professional musicians, but their love of music shows in the quality of their interpretations, their discipline, and the warmth of the sound they project. San Diego Concert Band has an ample international repertoire, and for this occasion the program included several specially selected pieces.

The opening number was Matador Mountain, a short piece composed for them as a 2015 opening fanfare by Adam Pezdek, followed by the Star Spangled Banner arranged by John Williams for the Rose Bowl opening ceremonies of 2004. This arrangement displayed unexpectedly colorful harmonies along with an emphasis on the percussion section.

Beyond the Critical Point by Shin’ya Takahashi, a jovial character march, was the first of three pieces composed or arranged by Japanese composers. When The Saints Go Marching In, as arranged by Toshio Masima became a showpiece for the band, full of rhythmic variety and changes of tempi. It opened with a funeral march, and then the main theme was presented by a clarinet, trumpet and trombone trio, followed by their skillful individual improvisations. Later on came Moonlight Serenade based on big band themes arranged by Naohiro Iwai.

 Song of Hope by the British composer Peter Meecham is a majestic and solemn piece with powerful organ sonorities. It was originally composed for Ryan Anthony, Dallas Symphony Orchestra principal trumpet, and son of Mr. Roy Anthony, the SD Concert Band conductor. Ryan was diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer in 2013. In April 2014 Ryan was the Band’s guest artist. For this performance the trumpet and orchestra original piece was played as arranged by the composer for concert band with no soloist.

We also heard Miguel Americana, a medley of patriotic themes arranged by William Broughton, and In Memory by John Wesley Gibson, a still unpublished piece written in memory of Chad Littlefield and Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL subject of American Sniper, followed by the brilliant Chimes of Liberty march written by Edwin Franko Goldman, and by the U.S. Military Medley.

Closing the program the San Diego Concert Band performed Victory at Sea, a favorite score written by Richard Rogers on themes from the 1950’s TV series. America the Beautiful arranged by Carmen Dragon was offered as an encore.

Mr. Roy Anthony, the multi-awarded Band conductor, is not only an experienced and knowledgeable director but a musically sage one. His beat is both clear and flexible, transitioning seamlessly through the changes of tempi with attention to expression and interpretative detail.

San Diego Concert Band will present An Evening of Music in the Garden on July 26, 6:00 PM at the Water Conservation Garden in Rancho San Diego. For more information, their website is www.SanDiegoConcertBand.com