Irish tunes liven Purdue Bands' Winter Music Gala

February 11, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Celtic overtones color several of the works on Purdue Bands' trio of February concerts known as the Winter Music Gala, Friday (Feb. 15) through Sunday (Feb. 17) at Lafayette's Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St.

Concert bands are featured at both 8 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday concerts, while the Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras take the stage at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. All the events are free and open to the public.

It's not the just proximity of St. Patrick's Day that inspires the selections for the concert band events on Friday and Saturday. Rather, it's the fact that band directors Ishbah Cox and Matt Conaway, who also assist with the "All-American" Marching Band, will be spending a week in Ireland with the marching band and appearing in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

"Several of the songs in 'At Kitty O'Shea's,' an Irish folk song suite for Wind Orchestra, originate from the regions in Ireland that the "All-American" Marching Band will visit next month," says Purdue Concert Band director Matt Conaway. "It will be featured on Saturday night's concert."

Written in 2010 by Johan de Meij, the title refers to the legendary bar at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, a location where band directors from all over the world (including Purdue) gather during the annual Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic. 

The Saturday concert opens with Collegiate Band, directed by Cox. Among the tunes they will play is Clare Grundman's "Little English Suite," with contemporary settings of four English folk tunes.  It will be guest conducted by Craig Aarhus from Mississippi State University, who will also conduct Bruce Yurko's "In Memoriam Kristina."

During Friday's concert, Michael Sweeney's "Quad City Stomp" offers a touch of Ireland. Aggressive percussion provides an undercurrent along with clapping, stomping, and other noisy effects to open the piece performed by the Varsity Band.

The United Kingdom is also represented during this concert by Hugh Stuart's "Three Ayres from Glouster," reflecting the composer's fascination with early English folk song style.

Symphonic Band's contribution to the Friday concert includes "Shortcut Home" by Dana Wilson and "Moon by Night" by Jonathan Newman.

The Sunday, Feb. 17, concert will be highlighted by the Philharmonic Orchestra's presentation of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakoff's well-known "Scherezade" with James Chang as violin soloist.

The Winter Music Gala is sponsored by Purdue Bands & Orchestras, which offers many free concerts throughout the year. For more information visit

Contact: Kathy Matter, 765-496-6785,

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