sealPurdue News

November 7, 2002

'Apocalyptic Dreams' highlights Symphonic Band concert

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Few composers have ever tried to unravel the mysteries of the biblical Book of Revelation in music.

David Gillingham's 20th century symphony, "Apocalyptic Dreams," attempts to do just that in a "fascinating approach with a celebratory ending," says Purdue Symphonic Band conductor Jay Gephart, whose ensemble tackles the piece during a Sunday, Nov. 17, concert.

The concert begins at 2:30 p.m. in the Long Center for the Performing Arts, 111 N. Sixth St., Lafayette. The free event features the Symphonic Band and the Purdue Fall Concert Band, along with a guest appearance by the Penn High School Symphonic Band from Mishawaka, Ind.

Gephart says he found Gillingham's composition so intriguing he wanted to share it with the community.

"The whole notion of the approaching end in time, talked about in Revelations, is scary to many, but fascinating," Gephart says. "It captures the imagination and arouses a certain level of curiosity."

Gephart says the 18-minute work contains special relevance in the beginning of the 21st century.

"There's a feeling that some of what's going on today in the Middle East is actually fulfilling the prophecies of Revelations," Gephart says. "And there's a 'Left Behind' series of Christian novels currently on best-seller lists that cast the events in Revelations in modern day scenarios."

Composer David Gillingham, who represents one of those people fascinated by Revelations, seized the opportunity to address it musically when the University of Georgia commissioned him to write a full symphony for concert band. Gephart says the composer wrote "Apocalyptic Dreams" in three movements with no breaks to create a continuous unfolding of events.

"Throughout the first movement, the mood is very somber and mysterious, setting the tone for the rest of the symphony," Gephart says. "The second movement, 'Cataclysmic Events,' sets into motion the chain of disasters found in the Book of Revelation. The trombone states a baleful motif which is very descriptive of the melodic material as you hear this outpouring of incredible sorrow and distress."

Gillingham brings the second movement to an end abruptly and caps the piece with an outpouring of joy depicting the return of the Messiah and the Messiah's kingdom to earth.

"Through the use of all sorts of mallet percussion and piano we get the sense of what the celestial sounds might be like when the Messiah returns," Gephart says.

Gephart says the symphony's final movement contains a reverent chorale, and the piece concludes with a "fanfare of trumpets and trombones."

"The entire movement ends joyfully with a celebratory tone," Gephart says. "It's as if he's saying we thought we were getting close to the end of time, but time will not end. Gillingham's music is not on a specific level. It covers the Book of Revelation with a broader scope. But one thing's for sure – it's fascinating music and a blast to play."

"Apocalyptic Dreams" may be the concert's centerpiece, but the Nov. 17 event also offers a variety of other musical works. Fall Concert Band includes Philip Sparke's "Hanover Festival," Frank Ticheli's "Cajun Folk Songs" and Warren Barker's "New York: 1927" in its program. Highlights of the Penn High School Band's program are Clare Grundman's "Fantasy on American Sailing Songs" and Edvard Gregson's "Festivo." The Symphonic Band also performs Samuel Barber's "Commando March" and Eric Whitacre's "Noisy Wheels of Joy."

The "Apocalyptic Dreams" concert is sponsored by Purdue University Bands. The Purdue Symphonic Band's next appearance will be in collaboration with Lafayette Ballet for an original dance and music event, "Echoes of Indiana," in the Elliott Hall of Music on Saturday, April 12.

CONTACT: Kathy Matter, (765) 496-6785;

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Media interested in interviews should contact Kathy Matter, Purdue Bands public relations director, at (765) 496-6785.

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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