The Texas Tech University School of Music will host a performance featuring the Symphonic Band tonight at 7:30 p.m. Monday (Dec. 4) in Hemmle Recital Hall. Assistant director of bands Eric Allen and graduate conducting student Ray Velasquez will direct the band.
Associations of tinsel-trimmed cities and festive lights will be conveyed in this performance, featuring several selections by well-renowned band composers. The concert begins with graduate conductor Velasquez directing a wind band setting of Johann Schop's ebullient melody “Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light,” harmonized by Johann Sebastian Bach for inclusion in his famous “Christmas Oratorio.”
Continuing the illuminating theme and drawing in elements from the previous piece, Michigan State University faculty composer David Biedenbender’s “Luminescence” is based on fragments from Schop’s melody and Bach’s subsequent setting of it.
An interlude in the center of the program will be provided by the student brass quintet called the SMOS Brass as they perform the first movement of celebrated brass composer Victor Ewald’s third brass quintet. The personnel of the quintet are Kevin Sells and Jacob Diewald on trumpet, Justin Anderson on horn, Christopher Cunningham on trombone, and Mikael Abera on tuba.
The slow movement from Vincent Persichetti’s Symphony No. 6 for band provides a moment of repose and calm prior to the frenetic pace of the big city, captured in Johan de Meij’s Symphony No. 2, subtitled “The Big Apple” after the city of his current residence. The first movement of de Meij’s symphony affords a musical portrait of the looming skyline before segueing into the “Times Square Cadenza” — a middle movement comprised entirely of city sounds that the composer himself recorded in Times Square.
Instead of performing the final movement of “The Big Apple,” the Symphonic Band will end the program with a much-needed jaunt out of the city and into the Yuletide countryside as Velasquez returns to the podium to direct Leroy Anderson’s joyfully ubiquitous Sleigh Ride. To set the mood, Anderson’s piece includes sleigh bells, a muted trumpet mimicking a horse’s neigh, temple blocks to suggest the sound of hooves on cobblestones, and the beloved slapstick imitating the crack of the coachman’s whip.
Tonight's concert is free and open to the public.