Symphonic Band explores Russian composers in ‘From Russia With Love’
From jubilant themes to musical motifs reflecting despair, the Purdue Symphonic Band explores the drama and mystery of noted Russian composers at a Sunday, Nov. 23, concert “From Russia With Love.”
The free concert, set for 2:30 p.m. Nov. 23 at the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St., Lafayette, will also feature the Purdue Fall Concert Band and the West Lafayette High School Concert Band.
Works by Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Kozhevikov add a Russian flavor to the concert, which boasts a lot of different dimensions. The Symphonic Band balances out the Russian programming with a contemporary classic from the trumpet repertoire. Dr. M.T. “Mo” Trout, head of Purdue’s jazz studies, will perform the trumpet solo in Kent Kennan’s “Sonata No. 1” with the band.
Shostakovich’s “Finale” from Symphony No. 5 tops the Nov. 23 program in terms of drama, says Jay Gephart, conductor of Symphonic Band.
“Of all the Shostakovich symphonies, the Fifth is the most famous,” he says. “In it you get a real sense that Shostakovich, as a composer, is torn between political strife prevalent in the Soviet Union and his desire to be a nationalist composer and patriot.”
Triumphant passages dominate several parts of the piece, but there’s also “somber and disturbing sounds demonstrating the angst of the composer,” Gephart adds.
Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture” is “exactly what it says. It’s jubilant. In fact, when it was introduced, it was criticized as being too jubilant,” Gephart says.
A Prokofiev march completes the Russian emphasis on the program. “Prokofiev is one of just a few Russians who wrote original works for band. He’s also one of a few composers who felt comfortable operating in both classical and modern styles of writing,” Gephart says.
Highlights of the Fall Concert’s band portion of the program include “Fanfare and Hymn of Celebration” by Paul Lavender, and the “March” from 1941 by John Williams. Fall Concert Band is conducted by Boyd Loughrige, Visiting Instructor at Purdue Bands. The West Lafayette Band, under the direction of Matt Conaway, performs Claude Smith’s “Emperata Overture” among other works.
This year West Lafayette’s band and orchestra program has been chosen to participate in Purdue University Bands’ Partners in Music Education program which offers special performing opportunities as well as educational support.