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Waynesburg University Symphonic Band to hold concert

Eric Brewer Feb 24, 2023

The Waynesburg University Symphonic Band will perform its first concert of the spring semester Wednesday, March 1, at 5:15 p.m. in Roberts Chapel. This concert is free and all are encouraged to attend.

The Symphonic Band, under the direction of Eric Brewer, instructor of music and Music Program director, is comprised of students studying a variety of majors. There are students studying criminal justice, psychology, forensic biology, marine biology and environmental science as well as music.

Each Monday and Wednesday throughout the school year, students rehearse for an hour and a half. For many players, that time is a release from the pressures of rigorous academic study in their chosen fields. 

For this first concert, the band will play a selection of compositions from the standard wind repertoire. Most notably are two pieces: “Symphonic Dance No. 3 ‘Fiesta’” by Clifton Williams and “Irish Tune from County Derry” by Percy Aldridge Grainger. Each piece represents opposite ends of the musical spectrum. The “Irish Tune” is a lyrical masterpiece based on the famous melody “O Danny Boy,” and Fiesta is a lively celebration of Latin America. 

Clifton Williams was a French Horn player born in Traskwood, Arkansas, in 1923. He studied music at Louisiana State University after serving in the United States Air Force during World War II. Once he completed his Master of Music degree at the Eastman School of Music, he took a position teaching horn and composition at the University of Texas at Austin where he regularly performed with the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the San Antonio Symphony. “Symphonic Dance No. 3” was written in 1965. The work depicts the festivals famous in Latin America, such as Carnaval and bull fights. The complex poly-rhythmic passages recreate for the listener the experience of standing in the middle of the street as a parade of bright pageantry passes by. 

“I shall hear though soft you tread above me/And all my grave shall warmer, sweeter be.” These lines come from the second composition the Symphonic Band will play on March 1. “O Danny Boy” is an Irish folk song first published in 1855. It is the plea of one who is dead or dying asking her love to visit her grave when she is gone. This gentle request evokes images of the Irish countryside. From glens to meadows to cool streams where the sun shines, one finds peace and nostalgia in a memorable melody. In the hands of Australian composer Percy Aldridge Grainger, this tune transcends its original form. No band student can escape its reverent call. The version for wind band being performed is one of four arrangements Grainger wrote in the early 1900s. It has become his most famous piece. 

Among these compositions, the Symphonic Band will also perform works by John Philip Sousa, Robert W. Smith, Samuel R. Hazo and Rossano Galante.