Sounds resonating of triumph, tragedy, beauty, and hope were heard throughout the Fullerton College Campus Theater on Tuesday Nov. 28 as the Symphonic Winds performed.
The Fullerton Brass Choir, conducted by Chad Willis, began the concert with the fanfare “La Peri” by Paul Dukas. This song showcased the strength of the trombone players as they performed with a rich tone and smooth blending.
Willis explained to the audience that “La Peri” is a fanfare and was played right before a ballet, “The Flower of Immortality”. What was unique about this group was that it was brass only. Trumpets, trombones, horns, and tubas was all you heard.
Then the Symphonic Winds of the Pacific took the stage. Dr. Anthony Mazzaferro is the conductor for this group and for the Fullerton College Symphonic Winds. This group consisted of students and adult non students who banded together to express their passion for music through performance.
“These are some of my favorite pieces that I have done over the years here, so I’m always anxious to share those with students who haven’t played them,” Dr. Mazzafero said.
Unlike the brass choir, this was a much larger ensemble that included not only brass, but also woodwinds and percussion.
Their first song, “Three Revelations,” by Alfred Reed, was loud and triumphant with a reoccurring whirlwind sound which was executed by certain players traveling through a scale.
Winds of the Pacific then continued on with a Percy Grainger suite which had a very playful sound at a moderate tempo. The final piece was very melancholy and tragic; however, it began it lighten up by featuring soaring notes provided by the high winds, flutes and clarinets. It created a more hopeful atmosphere and was a nice finish.
Next up was the Fullerton College Symphonic Winds. They began with “Midway March” by John Williams and it was much different than the song prior with a faster tempo the horns leading the melody.
The rhythm was carried on by a deep tuba bass line and snare drums giving it that military march feel. Every now and then, high flutes would enter and give the song a very patriotic sound.
The next piece was “They Hung Their Harps in the Willows” by W. Francis McBeth.
“This is McBeth’s most powerful piece he has ever written,” Dr. Mazzaferro said. It had a very sinister opening with just the right blend of sound and silence. With a slow build up, there was then thunderous drums which came to a frenzy of darkness and rage, supported by deep tubas.
Then the high woodwinds came in to paint a more peaceful picture. The song started with anger and remorse, but ends with acceptance and peace. It was really neat to see it illustrated so easily in the performance and in the music.
Special guest Dr. David Lopez, a music instructor at Fullerton College, then conducted the Symphonic Winds for the song “Fiesta”. It was heavily Latin inspired and had a very exotic sound. The imagery I got when listening to the powerful brass and percussion section was a matador trying to get the attention of a bull. The music sounded intense and full of passion.
The final piece of the night was the suite from Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass”. This piece really showcased the unique sounds of each instrument. Every section had their own moment in the songs and it was great to hear each instrument stand out. Even the piano had a moment to take on the melody and be heard. It was a great piece to end the show because it highlighted all the talented musicians in the symphony.
“For me this is like giving a gift to somebody that you know is going to love it, but they don’t know what it is,” Dr. Mazzaferro said. “That is the feeling every time we start working on a new concert. It is very gratifying for me to have them work so hard and achieve so much.”
For more information about the Fullerton Music Department you can visit their website.