The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Concert and fall symphonic band to perform first concert of year

Trophies stand proudly in room 404, the band practice room. As one walks through the band hallway, it’s easy to see at least hundred trophies displayed, representing Rock Bridge High School’s impressive musical history. Photo by Ana Manzano

As the days grow shorter and pumpkins bedeck front porches, concert and fall symphonic band, two non-competitive performing groups, get ready for their first concert of the year to begin at  7 p.m. Oct. 22 in the Performing Arts Center (PAC). 

Concert band, conducted by Director of Bands Partick Sullivan and Associate Director of Bands Josh Myers, plays first followed by the fall symphonic band, which also performs for Friday night football games and parades, conducted by Steve Mathews.

With a spooky Halloween-inspired theme, concert band prepares to perform “A Dark and Stormy Night”, “Ghosts of the Lost Ship” and “Grim Grinning Ghosts” from Disney’s “Haunted Mansion.” Symphonic band’s concert includes “Troll Bridge,” “In the Shining of the Stars” and “Catapult.” In contrast to concert band’s uniform theme, symphonic band has a mixture of tunes.

“I try to do a variety of different styles. That’s why I got some faster things and some slower things,” Mathews said. “I looked at the instrumentation ahead of time, so I made sure I wasn’t picking out pieces that I knew that we might be short on some instrumentation.”

Of the songs Mathews chose, he said the slowest song,“In the Shining of the Stars,” required the most focus for him to teach and for the band to learn. He said “it’s hard to teach line connecting and playing pretty and in tune.” For concert band, Myers and Sullivan said the beginning of “Ghosts of the Lost Ship” proved the most challenging.

“There’s an aleatoric section at the beginning, which is music left up to chance, that’s been a little tricky to put together,” Sullivan said. “But, then, once we get into actually the metered music, we have a lot of soloistic playing and a lot of small sections, or small groups of people, playing very specific parts and it’s not the whole band playing the whole time. So, that’s been a little bit of a challenge.”

Freshman Burcu Ersoy, a concert band flautist, prefers “Grim Grinning Ghosts” of the three pieces. She said the band’s emphasis on this piece helps everyone feel more comfortable.

None of [the pieces] are particularly difficult to me,” Ersoy said, “but it depends on who you ask.” 

When practicing in class, the bands focus on several techniques ranging from tone quality to good musicianship. In addition, Sullivan said maximizing rehearsal time and understanding individual parts in a piece of music, as well as other instruments’ parts, contributes to a well-prepared ensemble.

“At the beginning part of the school year, we focus a lot on tone production, quality tone production. We focus a lot on being confident musicians because it’s a new ensemble,” Sullivan said. “To be successful in a new ensemble, we need to have confident musicians. We have a strong focus on rhythmic accuracy and rhythmic independency, so those are some big areas.”

Sullivan also said individual preparation outside of rehearsal is an important component for concert readiness. Sophomore clarinetist Brent Gibson practices the fall symphonic band music on his own to ensure he is ready to play.

“Usually [to prepare for a concert] I just run through all of my songs at home, make sure that I know all of the notes,” Gibson said, “[and] make sure I know what embouchure I have to have in order to actually play.”

This year Gibson said rhythms have been the most difficult musical component for him and the symphonic band. In addition to their concert songs, the fall symphonic band performs music for parades and Friday night football games.

“Towards the beginning of the year we did something new,” Gibson said, “where mostly all the freshman had to memorize ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ in a few days to get ready for a parade.”

Gibson, however, said this additional assignment did not cost the band much rehearsal time as students memorized the music on their own. While concert band does not have to perform for parades or football games, both bands meet every other day, making every second of class time vital to both bands’ successes. 

The goal, Myers said, is “to make the ensemble sound as good as they can in the limited time that we’ve had with them so far.” Furthermore, Sullivan said the directors “set up standards and procedures through rehearsal in preparation for the concert to help build on for future performances.”

As a freshman, Ersoy anticipates her first concert with both excitement and uncertainty. She said the concert crept up suddenly, but she hopes for the best outcome.

“I’m looking forward to this being my first concert at Rock Bridge. I am really excited but don’t really know what to expect,” Ersoy said. “I just hope that we can all remember and improve on stuff we learned in class and represent concert band well.”  

Have you played in a musical ensemble before? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Bearing News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *