Reverting to a tradition bands across the nation had strayed away from, Purdue University Bands reinstates the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” to open all its concerts this year. It begins with the Purdue Symphonic and Fall Concert Bands’ program filled with hit music from Broadway and American films.
The free concert, “Epic Music from Stage, Film & History,” is set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, in the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St.
“Playing the National Anthem is kind of a traditional thing we haven’t done in a number of years. It’s a nice time to reinstate it,” says M.T. “Mo” Trout, director of the Fall Concert Band. Every Purdue concert this year, including jazz and orchestra concerts, will begin with an arrangement of the National Anthem that shows off the talents of the particular group.
A unique hymn setting of the “Star Spangled Banner” also closes program. The anthem’s rarely heard fourth verse will be read as the musicians play. “With words like ‘Then conquer we must when our cause it is just, and this be our motto: In God is Our Trust.’ it captures the spirit of our nation and what we’re feeling right now, says Symphonic Band director Jay S. Gephart.
Packaged between the patriotic numbers are tunes that evoke the magic generated by the entertainment industry, particularly American film and the Broadway stage. A medley from “A Chorus Line,” one of the longest running hits in Broadway history, reminds audiences of the enduring appeal of New York City, and paves the way for an campus appearance by its composer, Marvin Hamlisch with Purdue Bands’ musicians in early November.
With the film version of the popular novel The Lord of the Rings set for release in the next few months, the Fall Concert band also performs the “Gandalf” from Johan de Meij’s “The Lord of the Rings.”
“It’s very descriptive with a lot of dramatic dark sounds,” Trout says. Opening and closing with a fanfare depicting Gandalf, the middle section focuses on his horse Shadow Fax. “You can hear the horse galloping through the plains and visual the wizard on top with his cape fluttering out behind,” Trout says.
Other highlights from the Concert Band’s section of the program include the John Philip Sousa march “Who’s Who in Navy Blue, and “Viva Musica,” an overture with a Latin sound and dance rhythms that features demanding woodwind parts and lots of percussion.
Purdue Symphonic Band, directed by Jay S. Gephart, plays music from the Far and Away, the epic Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman film about the challenges faced by Irish immigrants making a new life in a new country. Multi-award winning composer John Williams wrote the music that was arranged by Paul Lavender, father of Purdue graduate Eric Lavender.
“Time Remembered,” a piece by the prolific British composer Philip Sparke, reflects on the 20th century. “It’s a serious reflective piece with quiet moments and beautiful passages for saxophone and oboe. It doesn’t so much reflect on specific moments as it reflects back on things we hold dear – especially our faith,” says Gephart.
Injecting a more upbeat mood into the program are “Olympica,” a celebratory overture written for a Japanese jubilee, and “Clowns” which Gephart describes as “a silly little circus gallop.”
The Sept. 30 concert ends with “America the Beautiful” and the special arrangement of the “Star Spangled Banner” by Luigi Zaninelli. “It’s a beautiful chorale setting where the lower brass sounds like a male chorus. It’s going to be a very reflective moment,” says Gephart.