Jr/Sr high band concert kicks off season

<I>DAMIAN MULINIX photo</I><BR>The IHS concert band was one of three groups to perform last Tuesday night at the Ilwaco Jr/Sr High School fall band concert.

ILWACO - The Lone Ranger rode again last Tuesday night as both the high school and junior high concert bands took a crack at the theme from the old TV serial.

"Tonight is the night of Tell - William Tell," said Bergman as he introduced the final song by the junior high band, "The William Tell Overture."

"At least one band member is miffed at me for doing it twice but, oh, well."

Kicking off the annual parade of school-produced holiday-time shows was the 2004 fall band concert. The show featured the Ilwaco Junior and Senior High School concert bands and the high school jazz band, each playing four selections.

IHS music instructor Brian Bergman welcomed the audience, which packed the Hilltop School auditorium, and encouraged them to help support the bands by giving to their booster club. He also made special note of thanking the Willapa Heritage Foundation for their donation of $3,000 which allowed the band to purchase a baritone saxophone that was used by students in both the jazz and concert bands that evening.

The jazz band got things underway with the only song of the evening that reflected the time of year - "Autumn Leaves" - which featured an echoey piano solo by Madeline Dickerson.

"The next one is a medium blues tune called 'The Stripper,'" said Bergman to some giggles in the audience.

The song had the sound of a big band-style piece, with Nick Wilson-Codega providing good rhythm on the drums and some nice trumpet lines by Mike Huitt. The band looked sharp, dressed down without their tuxedo coats, which gave prominence to their stark white shirts and matching royal blue bow ties and cummerbunds.

For their third number, the band took a stab at the Miles Davis tune "Four" from his 1964 live album, with senior Rachel Zimmerman playing an effective tenor sax solo in the middle. The group finished their set with a Latin-inflected tune called "Tiger of San Pedro."

"I'm really excited about this group," said Bergman as he introduced the junior high band. "They're really fun to work with."

The band started out with "Newcastle March" by Johnnie Vinson, played in a style that sounded like something that might have accompanied the Soviet army into Red Square 25 years ago. Next up was "Cumberland Gap" by Anne McGinty, an old folk tune that is a medley of "Skip To My Lou," "Down In the Valley" and "Polly Wolly Doodle." It's a number that the junior high band plays at the first concert of every year.

One song they usually don't do at the first concert of the year is "Knights of Dunvegan," which Bergman described as a "grade two piece," and noted that this was the earliest in the year the band had performed the song in several years. The song was definitely the most complicated of the night for the junior high musicians, with different instrumental parts separated out from each other and pieced back together again.

Prior to the start of the high school concert band's set, Bergman presented Wilson-Codega with his first year competency certificate, then kicked into a rather familiar tune, "Themes from Thus Spake Zarathustra," by Richard Strauss - better known as the theme from Stanley Kubrick's film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, featuring good percussion, as needs be for such a piece.

The group followed up with a much lighter piece, "The Fairest of the Fair March," by Sousa, which featured the pleasant chiming sound of glockenspiel.

"It's one of my favorites and I really appreciate the way these guys play it," Bergman complimented at the conclusion of the song.

Then something unusual happened. The back row of the orchestra, featuring the percussionists was cleared, and one by one reappeared putting on their tuxedo jackets. Unlike the jazz band, members of concert group wear jackets as part of the their outfits and it seemed that those in the back forgot to put theirs back on.

"Sometimes I get tunnel vision up here and don't notice things," said Bergman after the short break to fix the problem.

The show continued with "Amber Waves of Grain," a very different take on the old American anthem "America the Beautiful" that Bergman learned at a summer music camp that he teaches. To end the show the group hopped on the back of old Silver and rode a more complicated version of the "William Tell Overture" to the completion of the show.

The Hilltop School band will perform their concert on Monday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. Other holiday school programs include the Ocean Beach School holiday program on Thursday Dec. 16, with kindergarten and second-grade students beginning at 6:15 p.m. and first- and third-graders at 7 p.m. The Hilltop choir will perform Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. All performances will take place in the Hilltop auditorium. The IHS choral concert took place on Tuesday, Nov. 30 and will be featured in a story in next week's Chinook Observer.

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