Interested in some modern music?

The spring concert is rolling around for the Ohlone Wind Orchestra. (OWO) That’s the “top” band I play in and some days I’m amazed they let me in the door. Damn are they good.

Specifically, it is at 6pm this Sunday, March 7th, at the Smith Center on the Ohlone College Campus in Freemont. Details and directions are linked from here.

The spring tends to be when we have most of our technical skills together so the spring concert is usually our heavy. This year is no exception, and via a combination of events has turned out to be especially beefy and full of new music:

  • Santa Cruz native and long time professional orchestrator George Roumanis wrote us a fun fanfare and march combination called “America Speaks.” It’s the most tonal new piece on the program. It doesn’t change the fact we cycle through some 8 or 9 keys at one point including a riff in 5 flats that I’m still working on. Adding to the fun, Maestro Roumanis will be attending the performance. No pressure on getting that riff right with the composer in the audience, right?
  • Next up is Derek Bourgeois’ “Trombone Concerto” with our lead trombone, John Monroe, tearing up the notes up in front of the group. This is simply an incredible piece. To give you an idea of the difficulty, Joe Alessi (the principle trombone of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra) uses this piece as a feature for when he tours. I doubt very much you’ve ever heard any solo work this difficult played live.
  • The next little ditty is the superbly difficult “Tour de Force” written by Jim Self. It is one of those pieces intended to be difficult and to showcase as many colors and parts of the ensemble as possible. The composer, Jim Self, is a gigging tuba player in the LA scene. He plays in some small groups like the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and has done little things like perform the John Williams Tuba Concerto with John Williams conducting, etc. So he knows how to write a ghastly difficult piece. I am still working on some of the licks. No pressure here either, Jim Self will also be attending the concert.
  • One of the lighter pieces on the program is Alfred Reed’s “Three Revelations from the Lotus Sutra.” That being said, because of it’s very ethereal nature and free-feel it’s still a tough piece. Oh, and we’re getting a guest conductor on this one.
  • Following that is “O Magnum Mysterium,” which is tonal and slow. That makes it easy right? Well. Except for it is incredible expressive and requires the breathing control of an air compressor. We’ll see if I pass out on the last note of this one.
  • Dr. Brent Heisinger recently retired from both directing and composing. Well, he was in retirement until he heard a recording of us performing some of his music. After attending a few more concerts and liking what we did with his works he stepped out of retirement and composed “Soulscape” specifically for the OWO. Considering he knew what we could do, he was at liberty to make it a bear of a piece and he did. Oh. He’s attending this concert too. No mistakes, right? 🙂
  • And finally as the dolche on this program, the easiest piece on the program, the march and Marion’s themes from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” So John Williams turns our to be our light-and-fluffy piece for the program.

I guess it says something when about half of the composers represented on a concert are choosing to attend it. I have no idea where this group is going to end up, but at this rate we’re certainly building a name for ourselves.

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