Academy Concert Band Showcases Eclectic Sound

In contrast to the dreary winter weather, soothing harmonies warmed the chapel last Friday at the Academy Band Concert. The program featured three groups in an invigorating program – the Academy Brass Ensemble, the L’Insieme di Martedi Sera and the Academy Concert Band. Domenic Centofanti, father of Shelby Centofanti ’11, said, “I like Conductor Monaco’s approach to an…allegro, more upbeat form. I thought it was perfect for the time of year…It’s a very eclectic selection. I really enjoyed it.” The concert opened with a horn trio playing Joseph Haydn’s Divertimento. The beginning was peaceful with a beautiful harmony and a melody that was projected clearly. Next, Derek Jacoby, Instructor in Music, led his ensemble in three contrasting pieces. The percussion was notably strong in the Temecula Valley Fanfare by Richard Saucedo. The snare drum and timpani built up excitement leading to the climax of the piece. The melody of Edward Elgar’s lyric “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations had the potential for more careful phrasing by the clarinets, but the selection was generally touching to the audience. The ensemble finished with a traditional march that reminded listeners of carnivals and merry-go-rounds. Jacoby said about the choice of repertoire, “I’m not doing any specific programming other than looking for contrast and music that fits our level and our instruments as well.” The brief concert ended with the Academy Concert Band, directed by Vincent Monaco, in Festivo by Vaclav Nelhybel and Festive Overture, Op. 96 by Dmitri Shostakovich. Festivo had a strong beginning and a powerful, military-like percussion backbone. The middle contained a dreamy flute section solo accompanied by a chiming triangle. Festive Overture was a favorite among the audience members. It featured every instrument of the band in section solos at different points. Particularly notable was a virtuosic clarinet solo played by Jack You ’10. The trumpet section was also well synchronized. The last chord of the piece, played by the entire band, was held for a satisfying length and provided an impressive grand finale to the concert. Audience members were impressed with the band’s improvement over the year. David and Molly Buka, parents of Robert Buka ’09, have been attending these concerts for four years. “I thought it was the best one I’ve seen yet from the concert band,” David Buka said. Jacoby said, “I thought [the concert] went really well, actually. The last few weeks we put in a lot of work…This was a good culmination. Band played great.” Several performers expressed their relief about the success, despite limited rehearsal time over the short winter term. Oboist Sung Yup Jung ’12 said, “It would have been better if we had more time to go through the music… we met once a week. I don’t think that’s enough time.” You said, “Because of Head of School Day, we lost a rehearsal, but I thought we played pretty well.” Perhaps the performers’ feelings can be best summarized by flautist Jinzi Zhang ’11. “We got through the song… thankfully!” she said. Of course, there are aspects of musicianship that even professional musicians constantly strive to improve. Jacoby said, “We’re still working on our intonation so that everybody plays in tune with each other. We were [also] working on having a group sound so that you don’t hear a lot of individuals–you hear sort of a large unit” He continued, “While [the ensembles] made progress on that, it could always be better. But both of those things–intonation and a group sound – are kind of like lifelong things that musicians go through getting better.”