From jolly tubas to silken strings, Purdue offers concert treats
December at Purdue University Bands heralds the return of the offbeat "TubaChristmas," a caroling party for tuba players and fans of those low-voiced instruments, on Dec. 9 in the Purdue Stewart Center . It's immediately followed by "Holiday Cheer & All That Jazz" featuring singers, dancers and jazzy sounds of the holidays. Completing the trio of December events is the Purdue Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra concert at the Long Center on Dec. 11.
All the events are free with no tickets needed.
TubaChristmas, 7 p.m. Dec. 9, lobby of Purdue Stewart Center
Last year, more than 50 tubas showed up for this unique musical event which dates to the 1970s, and is annually staged in hundreds of cities across the United States as well as foreign countries. Jay Gephart, director of the Greater Lafayette's TubaChristmas says the local concert is "not just a Tippecanoe County event any more with tubas coming from Kentland, Crawfordsville , Monticello and lots of other towns around the area."
"Many of these musicians are the lone tuba player in their band so it's a rare treat to be around 50 other tuba players," he adds.
The Dec. 9 concert is traditional in the truest sense of the word. "Nowadays you hear all kinds of twists on Christmas music. This event goes back to traditional carols performed the way you sing them when caroling with friends," says Gephart, tunes like "Deck the Halls" and "Silent Night." Best of all, the audience can sing along whenever they want.
Holiday Cheer & All That Jazz, 8 p.m. Dec. 9, Loeb Playhouse, Stewart Center
"Of all my Christmas concerts, this is my best - and my last," says retiring American Music Review director Bill Kisinger with a twinkle in his eye.
At Purdue, Kisinger's tackled Christmas music for one ensemble or another for 37 years. Five years ago, the American Music Review big band with singers, which Kisinger founded, became one of the featured groups at "Holiday Cheer & All That Jazz."
For his holiday swan song, the Dec. 9 concert will feature singers on two of Kisinger's personal favorites - "White Christmas" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." He's also fond of Joe Jackson's arrangement of "Little Drummer Boy" done in Count Basie style which features lots of interplay between the band and its drummer.
Other seasonal tunes on the program include "Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!" "Winter Wonderland," "The Christmas Song" and "Swingin' at Santa's Place." In true Kisinger fashion, this director can't construct a holiday concert without throwing in a few tunes that are great for any season. This one features a vocal jazz arrangement of "My Favorite Things," Dizzy Gillespie's "Woodyn' You" and Cole Porter's "I Love You."
The concert also features short holiday-oriented sets by the Lab Jazz Band and Concert Jazz Band, both directed by M.T. "Mo" Trout.
Purdue Symphony Orchestra, 2:30 p.m. Dec. 11, Long Center , Lafayette
Purdue Orchestra director Jay Gephart chose December to debut the program's newest element, its Chamber Orchestra, in a short program of music from the Classical period.
The Chamber Orchestra will treat the audience to Beethoven's "Overture" from Prometheus and Haydn's "Symphony No. 102 in B Flat Major" to open the concert. Creating a chamber orchestra, which focuses on a more select instrumentation, offers Purdue musicians the chance to explore a wider repertoire in the Baroque and Classical periods.
Multiple challenges exist in performing this kind of literature, says Gephart. "It's often difficult for younger players to embrace the style necessary to play classical literature. The role of the winds is different and bowing techniques for the strings differ too," he says. "But the students are embracing the challenge."
Presenting a contrast in style, the full 100-member orchestra, with complete brass and percussion instrumentation plus harp, comes together to be featured in Von Suppe's "Pique Dame Overture," Vaughan Williams' seasonal "Fantasy on Greensleeves" and four movements from the Delibes' ballet "Sylvia" to round out the Dec. 11 program.
For more information on all Purdue Bands events, call (765) 496-6785