University Band and Concert Band prepare for final performance of semester

Madison Duboise | @madison.duboise, Contributing Writer

The University Band and Concert Band have been working all semester to ensure music is brought to campus throughout the year. 

Members of the two bands have worked hard to get back into the concert setting as COVID-19 brought many restrictions to live performances. They recently returned to the stage and picked up right where they left off.  

The University Band is conducted by graduate conducting associates Christopher D.T. Lawhorne and David T. Potter.

The University Band and Concert Band’s first performance this Spring was on Monday, Feb. 28, at the Frank Moody Music Building. The performance was the 103rd program of the 2021-2022 season, and there is one more performance before the semester ends.  

The performance was full of smooth melodies and intricate soulful moments that were exhilarating and evocative. 

They performed “Earth Song” in honor of Ukraine. The song comes from a larger body of work called “Sanctuary.” The song was dynamic, using slow, sorrowful trumpet solos that overflowed with emotion. 

“Earth Song” was initially chosen for the students, symbolizing the healing and recovery from the effects of COVID-19.

“As things started to unfold in Ukraine, we pulled that piece back out, and I told them I think we chose this piece for you, but we think this piece now means even more because of the things happening in our world,” Lawhorne said. “I think the piece evoked that communication in the performance for Ukraine. The students bought into that concept because they understood that it was for something bigger than themselves.”

After the University Band, the Concert Band performed ”Titanium!” by Jon Bubbett, “Things Change!” by Jeremy Smith, “The Legacy of Orpheus” by Russell Greene, “Bluebonnet Drift” by Aaron Perrine, “Flight of Fancy” by Timothy Johnson and finally “Homeward Bound March” by John Philip Sousa. 

UA band instructor P. Justin White conducted, with guest conductors Jon Bubbett and Russell Greene. 

Three of these pieces were world premieres, and two were state-of-Alabama premieres. Two of the composers for those premieres were present that night. 

“Performing those to me meant that The University of Alabama is going to be the flagship of the state when it comes to premiering pieces. Our students will have the most up-to-date, trilling music to play. My goal is that they are exposed to the best musicians and music possible,” White said. 

“Things Change!” was one of the world premieres. It began as the symphony slowly rose into a quick silence which repeated many times. Instruments slowly joined together to create a whimsical sound. This was contrasted by a dark, intense shift that may relate to the title of this piece. It transitioned back into the lighter tones from the beginning and then shifted back once again.

“Bluebonnet Drift” was performed electro-acoustic. The sound of the electric guitar and saxophone radiating through speakers complemented the symphony’s harmonies well and left the audience in awe as the performance drew to a close.  

“I think this is the feature of wind music. I think it is how we make what we do current. I really think electronics is the way of the future for acoustic wind instruments, with their addition,” White said. “It is not just a background track. It is actually triggered with musicians.”

Guest soloist Diane Schultz played the piccolo during “Flight of Fancy,” which sounded hopeful and felt reminiscent of spring. 

White said he was grateful to share the stage with Schultz, because she was one of his teachers in his undergraduate years. 

The performance ended with “Homeward Bound March,” a song that felt reminiscent of a marching band with its quick, short tempo. The song drifted to a slow, quieter beat then back to the intense beat. Toward the end there was a shift to a whimsical soft sound from the front two rows of the symphony, which created contrast. 

“The students played extremely well, they really showed up to play actual music, not just the notes and rhythms on the page,” Potter said. “The audience seemed to really enjoy the music that was played.”

Students have the chance to experience both bands this month with their upcoming performance planned for April 21. The performance is free to attend, and details can be found on the School of Music’s website. 

Questions? Email the culture desk at culture@cw.ua.edu.