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Band looking forward to first concert

“We’re always one season ahead of the rest of the world,” said high school band director Freddy Martin, “because we have to be planning the next season’s concert.” Indeed, the band is vigorously preparing for their first concert, which will happen on Oct. 8 at 7:30 pm in McCain Chapel.

The high school band program is split in two. The first one, the symphonic band, is made up of sophomores and freshman. The second, the wind ensemble, is mostly made up of juniors and seniors, with a few particularly good freshman and sophomores. During the concert, these bands will be playing different sets of pieces.

“We try to program the music so that the students stay on a good learning curve,” said Martin, “but at the same time, we want to make sure that the audience is kept involved.” In this concert, the symphonic band will be playing pieces designed to help the freshman make the leap from middle school music to high school music.

Their first piece will be “Incandescence,” by Richard L. Saucedo, a personal friend of Martin, which was “composed to give young players the opportunity to experience mixed meter,” according to its distributor, the Hal Leonard Corporation. The next piece will be “Appalachian Morning,” composed by Robert Sheldon. The finale will be “Prairie Dances,” by David R. Holsinger, which Martin included to teach the members about playing in compound meter.

All these new experiences might be expected to produce some uncertainty in the band director as to the overall success of the performance, but Martin remains adamant in his confidence in his band.

“Our students are so intelligent and talented that I know the preparation will be complete,” he said.

This devotion is reflected in the band players themselves. Junior Cameron Seward has his own reasons for wanting to play well.  “We get to play for the small children and set a great example for them when they join the high school band,” he said.

Seward is a member of the wind ensemble, the band usually reserved for the juniors and seniors. They, too, will be playing in the band concert in October. Their pieces, however, are not designed to introduce them to many new concepts, but to show off the full talent of the Westminster band. Like the symphonic band, they will be playing three pieces. The first is another by Saucedo, called “An English Countryside,” which is composed in the style of the old British wind bands.

The second is “Dusk,” designed to evoke the feeling of sounds and sights as the day draws to a close. Steven Bryant, the director of the Duke Wind Ensemble, that college’s highest-level band, composed “Dusk.” Duke has four Westminster alumni currently in that ensemble, demonstrating the skill of the Westminster band’s players.

The third and final piece in the wind ensemble’s performance will be “Abram’s Pursuit,” which was composed by David R. Holsinger. Holsinger has a strong background in church music, and this piece is based upon the biblical story of Abram’s brother Lot, who was taken captive by the king of Elam after his raid on Sodom. Abram set out in pursuit of his brother with a host of armed men and not only saved his brother and decimated the enemy army but also recovered all the wealth stolen when Sodom had been sacked.

This piece is “higher, faster, louder, a lot of fun to play,” said Martin, and it will undoubtedly make an excellent conclusion to the concert.

With many dramatic performances from the symphonic band and evocative ones from the wind ensemble, October 8 promises to offer an innovative show.

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