Travels with the Symphonic Band and Jazz Orchestra

The HSU Symphonic Band follows Handel in the Strand with some Strange Humors, and the Jazz Orchestra takes Seven Steps to Heaven in their shared concert 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

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The HSU Symphonic Band and Jazz Orchestra present a shared concert 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

It all starts with a fanfare—the Gavorkna Fanfare by Jack Stamp, performed by the Symphonic Band. “It’s a flashy piece, showing off the really good brass section we have this year,” said conductor Paul Cummings.

Percy Grainger’s “Handel in the Strand” was popularized by the John Philip Sousa band in the 1920s, but the newer arrangement the Symphonic Band plays brings out the textures that characterize Grainger’s music. “Now we can hear the counterpoint as well as the melody that’s always present,” Cummings said. “It’s a very tuneful piece that’s fun to listen to.” It’s a modern reminiscence of Handel’s time in London’s Strand and Covent Garden, composing operas in the early 18th century.

“Old Churches” by Michael Colgrass is a contemporary take on 15th century church music, suggesting Gregorian chant as well as the restless congregation. “Rikudim” by Jan Van der Roost is a lively evocation of Israeli folk dances.

“Strange Humors” by contemporary composer John Mackey continues the Middle Eastern theme but this time accompanied by African drumming. “This is a very exciting piece by a composer who uses a lot of rock music elements,” Cumming said. “It features Neil Bost on the djembe, a West African drum. It’s a real tour de force performance.”

Then the Jazz Orchestra takes over with “Seven Steps to Heaven,” a tune made famous by Miles Davis in a new arrangement featuring vocalist Jo Kuzelka.

Other soloists include Nev Mattinson on vibes, Josh Foster on trombone and Nick Durant on tenor sax for “Bags’ Groove,” guitarist Dan Fair and pianist Alex Espe on Fair’s arrangement of “Besame Mucho,” and bassist Steven Workman and trumpeter McKenna Smith on the Dizzy Gillespie Band tune, “Two Bass Hit.”

The Jazz Orchestra set also includes “I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star” by Jerome Kern and Richard Rodgers, and “Scorpio” by Mary Lou Williams, a movement from her Zodiac Suite. “It’s a psychological portrait of one or more people Williams knew who were born under that sign,” conductor Dan Aldag explained.

Tickets are $7, $3 and free for HSU students with an i.d. from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. For more information visit hsumusic.blogspot.com. The symphonic band is conducted by Paul Cummings and the jazz orchestra by Dan Aldag. The concert is produced by the HSU Music Department.