Last night, after bowling for my average, I attended an Augustana College Symphonic Band concert at a church here in Owatonna. As someone who played in symphonic bands for twelve years, I have viewed remarkably few symphonic concerts in my life. Especially lacking is my attendance over the past five years since graduating from college. Needless to say, listening to the band reminded me how much I enjoy a good concert.
Looking at the program notes there were two pieces that I was looking forward to. First was Eric Whitacre‘s Lux Aurumque. It’s a choral piece adapted for band. The Augie band did well on it. I could tell it wasn’t their penultimate performance of the piece, but their playing was still very impressive. The song is ethereal; more-so a feeling than a melody. Intonation and release are so important in the piece that I’d wager it is one of the more difficult compositions a band could attempt. I don’t disagree that it was worthwhile to transcribe Lux Aurumque for wind ensemble, but I can imagine that decision has lead to a lot more horrible renditions of the song than if it had remained strictly in the choral world. (While you’re frantically trying to download an MP3 of this song, do yourself a favor and find any and all versions of Whitacre’s Sleep. Coming to an edited home movie near you!)
The Augie Band’s feature piece was Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This is a 25-minute, 3-movement piece describing, well, the book of Revelations. You can imagine. Unfortunately for me the band only played the final movement, but all three movements will be performed at their home concert. I can never remember the composer and Google is surprisingly coy with the information. Needless to say, the composition is fairly unrecorded.
I don’t want to tout Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse too highly. I would not be surprised if someone told me ten or more composers were quoted in the piece. I’m pretty sure I can hear Wagner and Holst even with my limited background. I don’t want to trumpet, yet I can’t think of another symphonic band piece I enjoy more than this one. If you ever get a chance to hear Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse live, do yourself a favor and make it a priority. (Yes, this means if you live in and around Sioux Falls, you need to make it a priority to attend Augie Band’s home concert at the Brandon Valley PAC. February 5th. 3 PM. Plan about 90 minutes.)
We played the final two movements of Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse with the Augie band in 1997. I’m 90% sure we also played Lux Aurumque. As you can imagine, last night brought back a lot of good memories.