Symphony of sounds fills the campus with ensemble performances

Every semester there’s at least a handful of concerts on campus that a large portion of the College’s students are unaware of. Maybe it’s because these concerts don’t feature recording artists like Kevin Lyttle or LESS THAN JAKE. Or maybe it’s because these concerts take place in the actual Music Building instead of Packer or Kendall Hall. But even though people may not be aware, the College’s music majors, as well as some non-majors, perform a series a concerts showcasing their abilities every semester.

According to Susan O’Connor, Program Assistant/Audition Coordinator for the Music Department, the concert series for each semester features the College’s performing ensembles, everything from Jazz Band to the Wind Ensemble. The events for the series, which this semester included the Fall Musical and other events, occur over a few months, even though most of them are scheduled for the last few weeks of the semester.

“Our concerts are not only at the end,” O’Connor said. “This fall, the Fall Musical was in the middle of November and our events run straight through Dec. 11.”

So far this semester, the Collegium Musicum – which plays Medieval, Renaissance and early Baroque music – Jazz Ensemble and Orchestra have already had their concerts.

The Jazz Band, which is under the direction of Gary Fienberg, is a traditional big band formation. According to Fienberg, his ensemble plays popular jazz music by Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

The repertoire for the Jazz Band also often includes popular or current music that has been adapted. For their concert this semester, the Jazz Band performed a version of Weather Report’s “Birdland.”

The College’s Orchestra, under the direction of Philip Tate, performed in Kendall Hall for the first time since improvements were made to the stage area. According to Tate, one of the concert’s highlights was a performance of Kod?ly’s Hary J?nos Suite, with special guest Sandor Kuti from Hungary playing the cimbalom, an instrument used in traditional Hungarian gypsy music.

The performance was attended by over 500 people, making it one of the largest audiences in the recent years, according to Tate.

While these concerts have already come and gone, there are still some concerts before the end of the semester. This coming weekend will see the performances of the Percussion Ensemble, Concert Band and Brass Ensemble and the Choir and Women’s Ensemble. Next week the College’s Wind Ensemble will perform on the Kendall Hall Main Stage and the Chorale will perform in the Music Building Concert Hall.

According to William Trigg, director of the Percussion Ensemble, their concert will feature music by Jack Stamp, John Bavicchi and Daniel Levitan. Also, the Freshman Percussion Sextet will be performing the “Toccata for Percussion,” by Mexican composer Carlos Ch?vez. Trigg said Ch?vez was one of Mexico’s foremost composers and this particular piece was one of the first pieces ever written for a percussion ensemble.

The Brass Ensemble, which is also under the direction of Fienberg, will feature about 14 instruments performing pieces written most specifically for such ensembles. According to Fienberg, brass ensembles have a long history, giving them a large repertoire from which to choose.

“(Brass music) features bombast music but can also be extraordinarily subtle,” Fienberg said.

Students in the music ensembles spend their semester preparing for these concerts. While most of the students in the ensembles are music majors, the groups are open by audition to any student at the College, O’Connor said.

Altogether, there are about 19 ensembles from which to choose, although not all are known to put on a concert at the end of a semester.

O’Connor believes that not enough people at the College know that they can participate in these groups or that they can come see their fellow classmates show off their talents.

“(The concerts) show the amazing array of talent and range of repertoire we have,” O’Connor said. “Music is best when it’s shared with the audience. There are not static, but dynamic events.”

The specific times for remaining concerts can be found the College’s Web site at and tickets are $5 with a student ID.