Just as their strings counterparts took to the stage a few weeks ago, our Middle School and Senior School band students performed for a packed house at the University of Victoria this Wednesday. Opening with a traditional Welsh folksong, “Men of Harlech,” that reminded Head of School Bob Snowden of his days in the cadets, the concert went on to include an array of pieces from both classic eras and recent pop culture.
Grade 7 student Josh Liggett had suggested the well-known piece “The Great Escape” to his band teacher Ian Farish, and the Grade 7/8 Band performed it to perfection. They followed that up with the more dramatic “Into the Storm.” The Grade 10 Concert Band performed two pieces from James Swearingen, who is a favourite of their teacher and conductor, Mr. John Reid. “Celebration and Dance” featured some astounishing percussion play, which thundered through the auditorium.
Next up were the youngest performers: the Grade 6/8 First Year Concert Band performed three pieces, one in which they played instruments they made themselves. “Concerto for Shaker and Trombone” by the Grade 6 Art Music Collective was introduced by Mr. Ian Farish as “a piece we’ve pieced together” and featured several students playing the clay shakers that they had made in art class.
The Grade 9 Concert Band set included a medley from The Phantom of the Opera, which darted between the darkest and brightest pieces from the Andrew Llyod Webber score. The Grade 8 Concert Band had the opportunity to play with guest conductor Mr. Josh Kynoch, and to play alongside their teacher Mr. Farish for the ambitious undertaking of the theme from Mission Impossible. The Senior Concert Band played a series of fast-paced numbers, including “Brazil” from the farcical play Charlie’s Aunt.
Of course, each year it is the final number that creates the most spectacle, as the Massed Bands of SMUS fill every inch of the stage. This year was especially impressive, as the students were joined by pipers from the Canadian Scottish Regiment and Mr. Rob Common on the pennywhistle. Vocalist Brian Christensen, decked out in a kilt for the occasion, belted out Paul McCartney’s “Mull of Kintyre” alongside a booming band.