Student Bands Revamp Familiar Tunes

Led by strong percussion beats, L’Insieme di Martedi Sera ended Gioachino Rossini’s “William Tell Overture.” Although it started with a quiet bassoon solo by Ebin Hirschman ’17, the piece grew louder as more group members chimed in, ending in a grand crescendo. This upbeat and well-known song began the Academy Bands Concert.

Directed by Derek Jacoby, Instructor in Music, L’Insieme di Martedi Sera was one of two groups that performed at the Academy Bands Concert last Sunday afternoon. The Academy Concert Band, directed by Vincent Monaco, Instructor in Music, also played. While both groups feature the same instruments and include some of the same members, L’Insieme di Martedi Sera is a smaller ensemble.

“‘William Tell Overture’ was a difficult piece to play because the tongue [a note created on a wind instrument by interrupting the air flow with the tongue] is so fast. We had to teach some of the members of the group how to ‘double tongue,’ which is a difficult skill,” said Jules Gilligan ’17, a saxophonist in L’Insieme di Martedi Sera.

Following “William Tell Overture” was Claude Debussy’s “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair,” also performed by L’Insieme di Martedi Sera. The simple piece contrasted sharply with the concert’s preceding, more complicated piece.

Ben Zhang ’17, a tenor saxophone soloist, said, “[‘The Girl with the Flaxen Hair’] was my favorite piece. It is a really different piece and not one that bands usually play because it is slow. It is very relaxed and that makes it interesting.”

L’Insieme di Martedi Sera also played “Circus Days” by Karl King. In addition to being a traditional musical composer, King was the director and composer for circus bands, which was evident by the piece’s light and energetic melody, highlighted by a large percussion section.

Henry Desai ’17, a clarinet player in L’Insieme di Martedi Sera, said, “We played ‘Circus Days’ really well in rehearsal, but I noticed that we got out of sync at some point during the concert itself, which was unfortunate… Overall, though, I don’t think the loss of time affected the performance too much and we did end at the same [time] which is one of the most important things, especially for a march like that, which is meant to be played fairly fast.”

The concert ended with the Academy Concert Band’s rendition of Gustav Holst’s “First Suite in E-flat for Military Band.” The piece is comprised of three movements, each with a distinct mood. The first part started out slow and somber before the instruments rose in volume to create a stately and dignified sound, complete with pounding percussion and clear trumpet wails. The song’s soft second movement used the flute, clarinet and bells for calm breaks in between rapid rhythms on other louder instruments, including the saxaphone. Powerful and energetic, the piece’s third movement was a march, serving as a triumphant finish to the long composition.

Samantha Hagler ’16, a trumpet player in the Academy Concert Band, said, “I would say that Holst’s [‘First Suite in E-flat for Military Band’] was the most difficult in terms of endurance and also in terms of range. There were some notes that were really high and continuous. But I felt like overall, the concert went very well.”