Explore composer Roger Cichy at Purdue Bands’ Showcase
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Roger Cichy’s sense of humor takes center stage at the Purdue Bands’ Showcase Friday and Saturday, April 24-25, when the composer works individually with each of the department’s concert bands, then conducts his own compositions – including “Bugs” and “T-Rex” – at free concerts in Elliott Hall of Music.
The 8 p.m. Friday, April 24, concert features the Purdue Symphonic Band, directed by Jay Gephart, and the Purdue Concert Band, directed by Max Jones. The 8 p.m. Saturday, April 25, concert features University and Collegiate Concert Bands, directed by Ishbah Cox, and Varsity Band, directed by Pamela Nave.
Tucked in between these events is a 6 p.m. Saturday, April 25, concert by the Purdue Symphony and Philharmonic orchestras, directed by Andrew King, also in Elliott Hall. Works by Turina, Mendelssohn, Frank and Barber will be featured with the evening’s showcase spotlighting the Philharmonic Orchestra in Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet music from “Romeo and Juliet.”
During the weekend, each of the 700 students in Purdue’s band and orchestra program is involved in a concert. The weekend concludes with a Stan Kenton Tribute by the jazz bands at Jazz on the Hill set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 26, at Slayter Center.
Admission is free to all events. No tickets are needed.
For more than a decade, it’s been a tradition to invite a contemporary band composer to campus for the weekend extravaganza. “I’m over the top about our choice of Roger Cichy this year because he’s such a fresh and colorful composer,” says Gephart who also serves as department head.
“A lot of composers get into a rut and all their pieces start sounding alike. Each of his pieces showcases new, innovative, creative ideas and that’s what makes them so appealing. You never know what you’re going to get.”
Illustrating those comments is “Bugs,” the Cichy piece that Gephart’s band is tackling in the April 24 concert. Through the talents of an onstage artist and the music, the audience will experience dragonflies, praying mantis, butterflies, army ants and spiders. “With the army ants you hear a marching machine. With the dragonfly, you can imagine it dipping and darting. Each bug has a totally different flavor. His colorful use of percussion and the way he uses the timbre of the instruments is very creative,” says Gephart.
Likewise there’s a “real banquet of sounds” in “Colours,” Gephart adds. It’s the Cichy piece the Purdue Concert Band will perform on Friday’s event, exploring five colors from amber to blue sapphire. At both the Friday and Saturday evening concerts, Cichy will personally conduct his works.
At the 8 p.m. Saturday concert in Elliott Hall, University Band will perform Cichy’s “Reliance,” while Varsity Band performs “T-Rex” and Collegiate Band presents “Interpretations.”
Both concerts will feature a variety of other tunes for concert band. The Friday concert features Percy Fletcher’s “Vanity Fair,” Biebl’s “Ave Maria” and “Nitro,” a fanfare by Frank Ticheli who said he was inspired by the “life-giving, energizing, healing, cleansing, explosive” nature of the element nitrogen. James Bonney’s “TranZendental Danse of Joi” fuses the percussion of street musicians, the wind and brass colors of modern jazz and the form and structure of classical music. Percussionists play everything from paint buckets to flower pots and Rich Marzullo, a sophomore from Stamford, CN, is featured in an alto sax improvisation.
The 8 p.m. Saturday concert offers a variety of other descriptive works including Karl King’s circus gallop “Royal Hippodrome,” Robert Shelton’s “Visions of Flight” and Eric Whitacre’s “October.” Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “Folk Song Suite,” reflects the composer’s life-long interest and research into folk songs of Great Britain.
The weekend’s events serve as a finale the 2008-09 performing season for Purdue Bands & Orchestra. Each year the department offers more than 20 classical, jazz and concert band events that are free to the public. For more information www.purdue.edu/bands
Look for guest composer/conductor Roger Cichy to enjoy even closer ties with the Purdue Bands in future years.
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