Fall Pops Concert

Fall Pops Concert will feature Stage and Concert Bands, African Percussion and a guest soloist • From samba to swing, African percussion to contemporary brass, the bright sounds of Saturday’s Pops Concert will add to the shimmer of a colorful late autumn.
November 06, 2015

At 4 p.m., the Stage Band, the African Percussion and Dance Ensemble, and the Concert Band will take the stage in Alden Hall for this annual highlight of the WPI fall calendar.

The students will be joined by special guest Brass Venture, a brass ensemble group of professional musicians based in New England.

WPI’s largest jazz group, the Stage Band, directed by Richard Falco, director of jazz studies, will start off with “Intro to a Samba” by Julian “Cannonball” Adderly and then slide into James Miley’s “Swing State.”

Guest soloist Doug Olsen, on trumpet, will add to the magic of Ellington’s “The Shepherd.” Olsen, director of music in the Medfield public schools for many years, plays solo or lead trumpet across New England and has extensive recording experience.

The Stage Band will conclude with “After You’ve Gone” by Michael Abene and Fred Sturm’s “Nzembo Na Mvula Zamba” (Song of the Rainforest). The latter piece, based on a traditional chant from the Bambuti tribe in the Democratic Republic of Congo, involves a call and response between drums and band.

Next up on the program comes the African Percussion and Dance Ensemble, the small student group that studies traditional African drumming and dance with instructor and percussionist Jeremy Cohen. Cohen is the founder and director of This World Music, an organization that brings hands-on cultural learning to educational institutions and arts organizations. The APDE will perform two pieces, “Agbekor” and “Gahu.”

The Concert Band, directed by administrator of music Douglas Weeks and assistant director Samantha McGill, will play “American Salute” by Morton Gould, which is based on the popular Civil War song, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”

Their rendition of “Tubby the Tuba” by George Kleinsinger will feature tuba soloist Steve Long ’16 and narrator Jamie Clark.

Clark, who is principal trombonist of both the Plymouth Philharmonic and the Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra, is a member of Brass Venture, the distinguished guest artists at the weekend concert.

Composed of five area musicians, Brass Venture plays across a range of styles, all reflecting the belief that great music “touches the soul and awakens a feeling” in the audience.

Along with Clark, Chip Halt (tuba), Jeffrey Hoehler (trumpet), Erich Ledebuhr (trumpet), and Hilary Ledebuhr (horn) perform throughout the region as individuals and as part of the group.

On Saturday, they will offer three pieces: “La Morisque” by Tielman Susato (c.1510–c.1570); the traditional “Shenandoah,” arranged by Chip Halt; and contemporary composer Eric Ewazen’s “Western Fanfare.”

The program concludes with a joint performance. Together, Brass Venture and the Concert Band will play a new piece by Eric Ewazen (b. 1954): “Shadowcatcher: A Concerto for Brass Quintet with Wind Ensemble.”

Based on Native American folklore, it is composed of four movements: Offering to the Sun; Among the Aspens; The Vanishing Race; and Dancing to Restore an Eclipsed Moon.

Each movement draws from a particular painting, which will be displayed on a screen behind the musicians as they play.

“Brass Venture has performed [the piece] with the composer several times,” says Weeks. “It will be a unique experience for our musicians and everyone else to work at this level.” Weeks had hoped that Ewazen could be on campus to participate in the performance but the composer is currently in Korea.

Concert tickets are $5, but free for students and seniors. Light refreshments will be served.