Academy Bands Learn to Play as a United Entity at Final Performance of Fall Term

As soon as the audience members settled down in the Cochran Chapel pews, the marimba bars rang and the Academy Bands Concert kicked off with a performance of “Marimbabira.” Held last Friday evening, the Tuesday Band and the Thursday Band showcased a variety of pieces from the 19th and 20th century. Wooba Song ’26, an alto saxophonist who performed in both bands, expressed his attachment to “The Damnation of Faust” by Hector Berlioz.

“My favorite piece was ‘The Damnation of Faust’—‘Damn Faust’ as Mr. Monaco calls it—because it was the most well-rehearsed and fun piece. It’s also the most technically challenging piece, and I have been told by many of my colleagues that it’s practically a clarinet concerto. It’s a very powerful piece that both the audience and performers enjoy,” wrote Song in an email to The Phillipian.

According to several performers, the concert was overall successful — performers played on beat, they added dynamics, and did well on solo parts. Helios Hong ’25, who plays the bassoon in the Thursday Band, described the positive aspects of the concert.

“‘The Damnation of Faust’ by Berlioz and ‘The Liberty Bell March’ by John Philip Sousa were the best we ever played… because I think people practiced and once we got the notes right, we started to develop a really nice tone in the end. It sounded pretty good,” said Hong.

However, the preparation process did not come without challenges. Apart from the short preparation time, since the bands had to learn new music only a few weeks after the last concert during family weekend, they encountered challenges such as dealing with frequent tempo changes and paying attention to the conductor.

“In general, many of us weren’t that experienced…[and] we lacked people, we only had two percussionists… some members were not used to rehearsing and performing together, and it was hard to stay together and blend with each other at first…. [In order to overcome this], we had to learn to truly play as one entity and not focus only on one’s own playing. The conductors emphasized the importance of listening to each other and provided insight that we could not have produced ourselves,” said Song.

Peter Cirelli, Instructor in Music and conductor for the Academy Bands Concert, expressed that the concert showed the student’s hard work and improvement throughout Fall Term and emphasized how he hoped the audience would recognize the students’ growth while enjoying their music.

“We always try to improve. We try to improve our tuning, our sense of tempo and many different things. But overall, there was a lot that did improve over the fall semester, so it was really good to see the improvement…. I think [the performance] went really well. The students played their best, which was all I could ask of them,” said Cirelli.