BUHS Early Spring Concert showcases modern composers

BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Union High School will present an Early Spring Bands Concert on Thursday, March 30, at 7 p.m. in the BUHS auditorium. No admission will be charged and the public is welcome to attend.

The concert band will present four selections, each by living composers under the age of 50. The first is Cait Nishimura's “Chasing Sunlight.” The Asian-Canadian composer wrote she composed this piece drawing inspiration from driving west into the setting sun, “as if trying to keep up with the Earth's rotation and to catch the last few rays of light before dusk.”

In a similar fashion, composer Omar Thomas used the inspiration of the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia for his setting of the American folksong “Shenandoah.” He seeks to evoke the feeling of viewing the landscape “not bathed in golden sunlight, but blanketed by low-hanging clouds and experiencing intermittent periods of heavy rainfall.”

John Mackey's “Foundry” makes extensive use of percussion instruments, including found instruments, such as metal mixing bowls, piles of metal objects, and a metallic “clang,” to create a raucous, industrial sound.

The band's final work is Brian Balmages's “Elements, a piece that he described as a “petite symphony.” The four movements, each using the traditional tempos and meters of a classical symphony, are named for the four elements of air, water, earth, and fire.

Steve Rice is the director of the band.

The jazz workshop will play “Road Song” by Wes Montgomery from his 1968 album by the same title. Also on their program is Sister Sadie,” by Horace Silver from his 1959 album, Blowin' the Blues Away. Rob Freeberg serves as director of this ensemble.

The jazz band will perform four selections from the 1950s and '60s, starting with Cannonball Adderley's “Sack of Woe,” a funky hard-bop tune from a live album his quintet made in 1960. This big band arrangement is by Mark Taylor.

They will also take on Les Hooper's arrangement of “Boplicity“ by Miles Davis and Gil Evans (who officially credited the composition to Cleo Henry, Davis's grandmother, so he could publish with a different publishing house than the one he was signed with). The 1949 recording is part of a series Davis and Evans made with a nonet, a group of nine musicians. In 1957, it was featured on Davis's album Birth of the Cool.

Also on the program is Mike Tomaro's arrangement of Dizzy Gillespie's “Birks' Works.” The title refers to Gillespie's middle name of Birks and it was the title track for his 1957 big band album. While Gillespie's recording was in a swing style, Tomaro's arrangement is a mambo.

The final selection is Thad Jones's arrangement of Kay Swift's “Can't We Be Friends that was recorded by the Count Basie Orchestra on their 1959 album Dance Along with Basie. Soloists will include Simon Atkinson (tenor sax), Eben Wagner (alto sax), Jasper Woliver (trumpet), and Wyatt Cudworth (vibes). Freeberg will solo on the trumpet on “Boplicity.” Rice also directs this ensemble.

For more information about the concert, call 802-451-9072.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates