Home Campus The Symphony and University Bands share stories through music

The Symphony and University Bands share stories through music

The Symphony Band and the University Band performed on May 20 through a live stream.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, concerts have not allowed any audience members to attend in person. Fortunately, the Department of Music has continued performing concerts through streaming services.

This concert was special because both bands were able to assist one another with support and feedback.

“Students get motivated when they perform for someone,” said David Faires, a music faculty member. “It is very strange when you end a big song that is exciting, and when there is no clapping, you have to imagine it.”

It is still unusual for artists to perform on stage when no one is watching them in-person. Luckily, both bands functioned as a small audience for one another. Students were pleased to play for those who have an understanding of how music works.

Along with the absence of a larger live audience, there were some other challenges related to the preparation and organization of the concert. All of the instruments had a bell cover that worked as face masks which reduce the spreading of the elements that release when people speak or sing. In modern realities, even musical instruments are forced to wear personal protective equipment.

Every concert is unique because teachers find special compositions that bring distinct moods and thoughts to those who perform and for those who listen.

“We, as the directors, always try to select music that is going on to be meaningful to our students and the audience,” said Diane Soelberg, the director of bands.

For this concert, all the compositions from the University Band were connected to England.

“The first piece that we performed had small English folk songs,” Faires said. “And then the next piece we picked was about the Canterbury Cathedral in England.”

The Symphony Band had another varied set of compositions.

“The Symphony Band started with the piece from the earlier Baroque style,” Soelberg said. “And then the woodwind piece that we did by Eric Satie, who was the early 20th-century composer. The next song, ‘Ash,’ was written recently in the 21st century, so I tried to get a variety of faces from periods and then different styles, of course.”

These two bands represented a variety of different cultures, styles and stories that were hidden in the compositions.

The concert’s program featured the words of the American composer, Jennifer Jolley, who composed “Ash.”

“I never saw snowfall as a child growing up in Southern California; it was more a phenomenon that I saw in cartoons or read in children’s books,” Jolley wrote. “I did, however, witness my first ash-fall when I was in elementary school. I looked up into the clouded sky and saw specks of ash falling from it … At that time, I couldn’t comprehend how an enormous forest fire could create a small flurry of ash-flakes. Now I have the ominous understanding that something so magical and beautiful comes from something so powerful and destructive.”

The composition performed by the Symphony Band reflected a story that had a powerful influence on the young artist. The combinations of songs each have different backgrounds and tell new stories.

Many other concerts will occur this semester.

“We have a couple of jazz bands,” Soelberg said. “Then we have a whole bunch of choirs, and we have mixed men’s and women’s choirs. There is also opera and string orchestras, so there is a really big variety.”

Moreover, every week on Thursday night, there is a broadcast for jazz. That is available on this website, along with all the music events.

There are a lot of music groups involving different instruments and different levels of skills. So for those students who are not music majors, there is still a chance to play in the band and perform on the stage.

“We have a lot of students on campus who used to play instruments, and they do not know that they can still play,” Faires said. “They can play and study something else. I try to advertise this all the time because a lot of them do not realize it.”


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