With the semester hurtling towards its conclusion, many groups on campus are hosting their final big events. Two such groups fall into the musical category: the PC Jazz Band and the PC Symphonic Winds.
PC Jazz Band’s Fall Concert took place on Nov. 18 under the vast ceiling of ’64 Hall, which was certainly a change in atmosphere following the band’s performance at McPhail’s a month prior. Leading the jazz band was Dr. Eric Melley, whose enthusiasm for the genre was apparent in every word he spoke. While the band was smaller than previous years, consisting of five horn players, a drummer, a bassist, and a keyboardist, they were incredibly tight and tore through an exciting list of songs. This list was composed of jazz standards such as Duke Ellington’s “Cottontail,” Charlie Parker’s “My Little Suede Shoes,” and Miles Davis’ and Victor Feldman’s “Seven Steps to Heaven.”
However, the most exciting moment of the concert was the final song, which was a take on Snarky Puppy’s intimidating “Lingus.” The song began in 5/4 time, but the band was undeterred, recreating the epic grandiosity of the original. While the first half of the song captivated the audience, they were truly hypnotized by the second half. At this point, the time signature switched to a more accessible 4/4. With only a bassline and minimal drumming, the keyboardist, Jordan McBride ’23, created a psychedelic soundscape, playing an improvisation that was large yet versatile. After a brief drum call, the rest of the band came in and began to groove. Members of the audience were seen nodding their heads in time with the music, their eyes fixated on the stage. When the concert ended, the praise was unanimous.
The next day brought the Symphonic Winds concert, which was also led by Dr. Melley. This time, the show was held in the Ryan Concert Hall, located in the Smith Center for the Arts. Featuring a much larger band than the jazz concert, the music was also vastly different. The theme for the night was “Moving Pictures.” Unfortunately, this was in no way connected with the band Rush. However, what was on display was quite impressive: most of the pieces performed were accompanied by images projected onto a screen above the performers. For “Urban Scenes” by Andrew Boysen, pictures of various cities melded with the music played to create a very captivating experience. “Prelude, Siciliano and Rondo” by Malcolm Arnold featured a more stream of consciousness approach, with each of the images on the screen selected by the band members. The presentations weren’t just still images, however: the piece “Sheltering Sky” by John Mackey was accompanied by an animated video, further enhancing the overall experience.
One of the most heartwarming aspects of both these concerts was the size of the crowd in attendance. Both events drew a lot of spectators and audiophiles, which was great to see. There are still a number of performances left to go this semester, including some by the three a cappella groups on campus, so hopefully, people continue to take time to see and hear the great musical performances that PC has to offer.