NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Symphonic Band and University Band at Stephen F. Austin State University will perform “a homage to the heavens” during the ensembles’ final spring concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.
The program, titled “Out of this World,” will feature compositions associated with outer space and the heavens, including “Shared Space” by Ivan Trevino; “We Seven” by Derek Jenkins; and “Sunshine” by Katahj Copley, all performed by the Symphonic Band, conducted by Dr. Chris Kaatz, assistant director of bands at SFA.
The program opens with the University Band performing “Into the Clouds!” by Richard Saucedo; “Darklands March” by Randall Standridge; “Lullaby to the Moon” by Brian Balmages; and Suite from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst, arranged by Johnnie Vinson, all conducted by graduate conductors Abbigail Ramsey and Christina Colley.
Saucedo’s enthusiastic “Into the Clouds!” is a “rousing imagining of the joys of a pilot in flight,” explains Kaatz. In Saucedo’s preface to the score, the composer elaborates that, “There’s nothing like the experience of flight, except possibly the experience of music, and I hope the enthusiasm of both can be found in this piece.”
Vinson’s arrangement of Holst’s “The Planets” features some of the most beloved moments from the composer’s orchestra masterwork, including the lush “Jupiter” chorale and the war-like march from the “Mars” movement, according to Kaatz.
The Symphonic Band opens the second half with an unconducted percussion ensemble piece entitled “Shared Space.” Commissioned by the McCallum High School Percussion Ensemble for its 2015 PASIC showcase, Trevino’s “Shared Space” for seven percussionists explores the idea of the close community that musicians often share. “This is embodied in the lush, interlocking motives played by the ensemble members and the regularly shared instruments throughout the piece with as many as five players on one instrument at a time,” Kaatz said.
Ramsey will guest conduct the Symphonic Band’s performance of Olivia Kieffer’s “…and then the Universe Exploded.” “This exciting post-minimalist work unfolds as a gradual layer of simple rhythmic textures to create a lush, intricate tapestry of grooves,” according to Kaatz.
Jenkins’ “We Seven” draws its title from the book of the same name co-authored by the Mercury Seven, the first U.S. astronauts to fly missions during the “Space Race” of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. Jenkins draws the musical material from two main sources: musical cryptograms crafted from the names of the seven astronauts and the famous aria “Un bel dì vedremo (One fine day)” from Giacomo Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly,” a favorite opera of members of the Mercury Seven.
Closing the concert is Copley’s “Sunshine.” Kaatz describes the composer as a “rising star” in the compositional world, with his works receiving performances by ensembles such as the Cavaliers Brass, Carroll Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in his brief five-year compositional career. Despite his young age of 24, Copley has written more than 100 compositions. “Sunshine” is dedicated to the composer’s close friend who helped him out of a dark period in his life. Programmatically, Copley describes the work as “an ode to the sun and the shades it beams throughout the world.”
“This colorfully optimistic work brings the program’s homage to the heavens to an exciting conclusion,” Kaatz said.
Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. To purchase tickets, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit finearts.sfasu.edu. For additional information, contact the SFA School of Music at (936) 468-4602.