GHS 2019 Fall Band Concert: “Of Frights and Fantasy”

The first Greenwich High School Band Concert of the season will take place Wednesday evening, October 30, 2019 in the school’s Performing Arts Center at 7:30 pm. Director of Bands is Ms. Amy Bovin, Associate Director of Band is Mr. Jason Polise.

This is not only the first concert of the season but the very first band concert under the direction of the new GHS Band Director, Amy Bovin.

“For concerts, I like to do something which is called ‘Programing,’
where the music of the concert revolves around a specific theme or idea,” Bovin said.

The Fall concert is on October 30, so she chose “Of Frights and Fantasy,” tales and characters that one could meet or pretend to be on the night of Halloween.

Ms. Bovin went on to explain, “We invite the audience to come on our journey as it leads us from the darkness of the night to the brightness of day.”

The concert journey begins with Jazz Lab Band performing Autumn Leaves to set the stage for fall.

This popular tune that was originally written in French as Les Feuilles Mortes tells a story of lost love and regret. The upbeat feeling of the version that will be played lends its hand to hope and to good times ahead. This piece is symbolic of the falling leaves during this season, although dead, these leaves contain much beauty in their many colors to give us hope that life will again return to us in the Spring. This feeling of hope and of happiness continue with the Jazz Ensemble where they set the busy yet exciting tone of this time of year with two very quick, upbeat pieces, Groove Merchant and Sir Duke. Both pieces are quite popular and thus as familiar to us as is this time of the year. If
one or both is unknown, then the audience will get to know a new piece, similar to how new friends are met each fall when school returns.

As quickly as the leaves turn and fall off the tree is a quickly as Halloween comes upon us when Concert Band enters the stage. The first piece, Chant Rituals is a call for all to gather for this spooky time of the year and for the journey that we are about to begin. The grandness of the opening chorale reminds us that we are stronger when we are together and thus should travel together on our journey on this Halloween night. We do not know what surprises will be in store for us. The eerie feeling of the holiday washes abruptly over the ensemble in the middle of the piece with dissonant chords and minor melodies from the flutes and alto saxophone soloists. The piece ends similarly to
the beginning with a final call to gather and a celebration that together we made it through the first part of our Halloween journey. This excitement is soon interrupted by the second piece, which tells the tale of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In this part of the journey we encounter Ichabod Crane and help him in his chase against the Headless Horseman.

According to the composer, “Depicting a harrowing night of ghosts and horse chases, this intriguing work recalls the very night Ichabod Crane was chased by the Headless Horseman. The dark atmosphere is immediately conveyed as slow trombone glissandi add to the eeriness. Suddenly, the chase is on! For a moment, Ichabod thinks he may have escaped the apparition, but we soon find out this is not the case. The chase begins once more as the piece moves quickly to its inevitable

Symphony Band’s first piece Ghost Run continues the frantic feeling of being chased by something or someone unknown. Though the music is still in a minor mode with dissonance throughout, the mood begins to become a bit brighter and hope returns. This gives us the sense that
perhaps the ghost is a friendly one, or in this case, a funky one with a funk groove heard throughout in the low winds and a rock beat played by the percussion. A quotation in the trumpets of the plainchant motive Dies Irae, taken from the Mass of the Dead reminds us that this is Halloween night and whatever is chasing us might not be as friendly as we think. The entire piece musically is based off of the idea of juxtaposition with the composer even giving nod to his favorite composer J. S. Bach by including the introduction of Bach’s “Little” Fugue in G Minor, BWV 578 in contrapuntal fugue form within the climax of the piece. Old and new combine together to give us excitement, anticipation, and an uncomfortable feeling of the unknown.

Our journey on Halloween night begins to enter the world of fantasy as we have successfully escaped the frights from earlier in the evening. Symphony Band leads us into the world of The Lord of the Rings as written by J. R. R. Tolkien. As some of the best tales have come from books, so does this symphony, as the composer wrote the music based off of characters and events in the book, decades before the movie was even in the planning stages. The arranger of this specific version of
the symphony left it up to the musicians to decide their journey or which sections to perform. Our journey takes us to meet Gandalf, the wizard, which is portrayed by a grand and stately melody.

Gandalf leads us to the Hobbits where you can hear their happy and joyful character come through. A noble melody breaks the upbeat folk dance, where if you listen closely you will might be able to hear
the theme from the movies’ soundtracks.

Wind Ensemble joins in on the theme of the night by telling us an overview of the story from Candide, a Broadway musical that premiered in 1956 based off of a satiric novella of the same name by Voltaire. Similar to the setting created by the previous heard Hobbits and Symphony Band, the story takes place on a simple land with simple people, all who only want the best of all things.

Different themes and songs from the musical and the story are heard in this fun, yet dramatic overture. The mood of the night shift slightly back to that from the beginning of our story with the band standard March from Symphonic Metamorphosis. The entire piece of which this movement came from was written by Hindemith during his time teaching at Yale when he had the idea to write a ballet based off of the works of von Weber. The ballet never became a reality, but the music remains a staple of wind band literature. You can hear the mysterious sounds similar to what you will hear onHalloween night throughout the piece. The piece ends with a grand statement giving the listener hope
that our journey, which is almost over, is going to end on a positive note (pun intended).

The evening concludes with a celebration. The last piece on the program, Arabesque, begins with a solo flute call for all who haven’t already to come out and join us as we finish our journey on Halloween night. One by one, instruments begin to join. Eventually, the entire ensemble comes together and celebrates the journey that we have successfully taken tonight. We made it through the darkness and now get to party the night away with some catchy rhythms that will make you want to get up and dance along. The music slows down but is grander than ever at the end to symbolize the brightness of the sun that is beginning to rise over the horizon. The morning call is heard by the return of the solo flute as the sun rises higher in the sky. The piece and concert ends with 5 dark descending notes symbolic of the Halloween journey we just took before a final major chord played by all to let us know that hope and happiness lie ahead.