Peninsula student musicians put on impressively eclectic performance at Spring Concert

<I>DAMIAN MULINIX photo</I><BR>The Ilwaco High School concert band performs during the junior/senior band spring concert Monday night at the Hilltop School auditorium. The concert also featured the junior high band and the high school jazz band.

ILWACO - From swinging big band jazz romps and western overtures to classical marches and folk songs, the kids had it all.

The Ilwaco Junior/Senior High School band concert Monday night at the Hilltop School auditorium, presented a diverse mix of musical styles. The three bands - the junior high band, the high school jazz and the high school concert band - each played sets of four songs each, taking breaks during their performances to receive praise and certificates of accomplishment from the their instructor, Brian Bergman.

The high school jazz band was the first to take the stage, dressed down in tuxedo outfits, sans jacket. For the band, this was a tune up of sorts in preparation for the swing dance fund-raiser they are holding at the Fort Columbia Theater on Saturday night.

They got under way with a classic juke joint type tune with a swinging rhythm, "42nd Street." Next up was the song "Velvet Rain," that featured a smooth, floating melody, led along by Lindsey Hylton's alto saxophone. The song sounded like it was lifted from some black and white detective noir film from the 1940s, but the tune is actually fairly new according to Bergman.

"It's nice to feature a soloist, especially one as good as Lindsey," Bergman told the audience after the song concluded.

Next up was a tune featured often in sets by the Count Basie big bands of days past, "The Queen Bee."

"It's quite ambitious, but we're going to give it a whirl," Bergman prefaced the song.

The song featured interweaving melody lines and some "a lot of little exposed lines in it and things that could technically not happen," that could have been ripe for things to fall apart, but the band held together well. The song was accentuated with solos of tenor sax by Rachel Zimmerman and piano by Madeline Dickerson.

"Yeah, Rachel Zimmerman, she does a real nice job," said Bergman following the show. "She does quite a few solos with the band.

The jazz band's set ended with another swing number, a big band rumble called "Swing Machine," that featured a great drum lead by Greg Gittel and fat horn sounds.

As the junior high band began their set, it was instantly obvious that their flute section is a strength of the group, which Bergman told the audience after the first number, "Crystal Mountain Festival."

The band was given a helping hand by a couple of familiar faces on the second number, "Dona Nobis Pacem," that of Alex Tarabochia on tuba and Gwen Gerke on baritone sax to "help beef up the bass lines." The two are freshmen who played with the junior high band last year.

The third song was a little unusual. Titled "Laramie," the subtitle of "a western overture" would explain the portions of the number which harkened memories of beef commercials. The rest of the song was broken up by "Sugarplum Fairy" type bells and chimes and sweeping balladry.

The junior high band ended with "Russian Sailor's Dance," which featured a big crescendo to start, followed by a tempo that excelled quickly and continued to rise before a big finish.

"The seventh-graders have really become musicians," Bergman praised after the concert. "It's been a transition from, 'I'm listening for my part, to now I'm actually reading my part.'"

INFO BOXSaturday, March 20, the Ilwaco High School jazz band will host "Swing Into Spring" at the Fort Columbia Theater as a fund-raiser for the all-high school band tour.

The show will feature the jazz band performing swing numbers for dancing. Swing dance lessons will available starting at 7 p.m., with the show starting at 8:30 p.m. The cost is $10 per adults, $15 for couples and $8 for any student with an ASB card from any local high school, $12 for couples. The dance is open to all ages.

"A good mix of people would be a lot of fun," said IHS band instructor Brian Bergman. "I think all ages would be the best."The high school concert band began their set with bombastic piece, "March For Kim," a complicated and rousing number.

Next up was another piece that breaks the mold of standard concert band numbers, "Ye Banks and Braes O' Bonnie Doon." The piece was written by Percy Granger, who Bergman described as a songwriter who traveled around the world creating folk music inspired by regional styles. Though written for wind instruments, which is all that played on the song, it sounded as though it was destined to be played on a fiddle in a pub somewhere in another time, with it's Celtic Irish overtones.

"It's quite different from what I usually give them. It's actually a very sophisticated epic of music, something that kids would work on late high school or maybe even college," said Bergman. "They did a very nice job on it. It's deep, a conceptually a deep piece."

The last two songs, Tchaikovsky's "The March from Symphony #2" and David Holsinger's "Prairie Dances," featured various percussion instruments like bells and rousing horns. The latter had a very familiar quality to it, one of those songs that you recognize but are not sure from where.

Overall, Bergman was pleased with how the show went and with the continued progression of the students, saying that their improvement has been evident over the last few months.

"I thought musicianship is up from the last concert," he said. "It's been a good three maybe four months since we've done a concert. I've seen a lot of growth since then."

When the show ended, the band members stood to a cheer of appreciation. But rather then waiting and soaking it all in, the group moved hurriedly from the stage - they had more exciting things on their minds. As one of the students walked down the steps she cried, "We're going to Chico's!"

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