The seats were filled with entranced listeners in Studley Theatre on Tuesday, Nov. 13, as audience members were transported by a melodic performance.
“An Evening of Band Classics,” performed by the campus symphonic band, brought in students and community members alike as they performed this semester’s on-campus concert.
The concert featured over 50 performers including students, faculty and community members. The performance was conducted by Joël Evans, assistant professor in the music department, and included a mix of classical and contemporary pieces.
“Evans is the sweetest conductor and he chooses cool songs,” said clarinet player and fourth-year pre-music therapy major Adam Long. “It’s fun seeing what you’ve worked so hard on come together in the end.”
Since the founding of SUNY New Paltz, the college has had a campus band, which includes music majors as well as students from all other departments.
“I take great pride in having skilled performers who are business majors, engineering majors, physics majors, education majors, etc.,” Evans said. “These are truly wonderful students who represent a broad cross-section of our campus and each semester brings in new and talented performers.”
The band performed seven pieces, including “Sleep” by Eric Whitacre, a powerful and expressive piece that featured sleeping sound effects from the students. The piece was originally composed in 2000, which was influenced by Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” It was discovered that this poem was under copyright, so Whitacre had poet Charles Anthony (Tony) Silvestri write new lyrics in order to capture the sleepy essence of the last stanza from Frost’s poem. What emerged was this new piece. Whitacre said, “I actually prefer Tony’s poem now.”
The band did the piece justice as they captured the soft, dainty sounds that were inspired by the poem. Evans introduced the song by calling it a “really curious piece,” and promised the audience they would hear “tossing, turning and a few twitches of the body as this poor person tries to sleep.” The piece rolled easily along and featured whispers of “sleep” from a few band members. The song faded beautifully to silence.
The band welcomed guest conductor Vic Izzo, a professor from SUNY Ulster, to work with the band on “Greensleeves.” This song is a traditional English folk song that keeps its soft sound throughout the piece, even when adding in the boisterous tuba and trombone.
“Greensleeves” started off soft and resembled a careful walk in the woods. The wind instruments took priority on this piece as they delivered the uplifting sounds to be carried through. There was a melody repeated throughout the song that sounded like a Christmas tune from every Hallmark movie. The piece took its time with long notes that made the piece easily flow from beginning to end.
The symphonic band is open to any students that played in band during high school. There are no auditions to get in; interested students only need to register for MUS145.
“Everyone should join,” said double bass player and second-year international relations major Julissa Deleon. “You don’t have to be advanced to join. There’s no pressure and you can go at your own pace.”