Thunder Bay Arts Council is providing area music enthusiasts with a rare opportunity by bringing the 72-member University of Michigan Symphony Band to Alpena for a concert March 31 at 7:30 p.m. in the Alpena High School Auditorium.
Since 1951, the Symphony Band has been among the leaders of the modern wind band movement in America. Through recordings and performances in prestigious venues such as New York's Carnegie Hall, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Beijing's National Center for the Performing Arts, the band is known for its professional quality performances and keen sense of "trailblazing" in building a repertoire.
Under the baton of Michael Hitchcock, the Symphony Band has won praise from a wide range of audiences, composers and critics. Reviews of recordings on the Equilibrium label have hailed the band's "organ-like sound quality, breathtaking precision and detailed, polished and expressive phrasing."
"It's going to be fantastic," said TBAC member Ray Reynolds. "I've heard them for years, and it's just amazing what they do."
Reynolds, also a Thunder Bay Junior High School band instructor, said the Symphony Band doesn't normally travel to cities around Michigan, opting instead to perform mainly at Hill Auditorium on the U of M campus and at major venues such as Carnegie Hall.
Reynolds decided to take a chance and email band officials about the possibility of coming to Alpena for a concert, figuring it doesn't hurt to try.
Thunder Bay Arts Council Concert
U of M Symphony Band
Saturday, March 31
7:30 p.m., AHS Auditorium
Tickets: $10 for adults
All students admitted free
"I emailed them," he said. "The requirements were incredible, such as measuring the size of the stage and getting board approval."
Ryan Reynolds, the son of Reynolds, currently is a senior bassoon performance major at U of M and a four-year member of the band. Following graduation in May, he plans to further his musical education at the graduate school level. He will be performing in Alpena with the Symphony Band.
The concert program will feature the opening number, "An Outdoor Overture (1938) by Aaron Copland, followed by "Second Prelude (1926) by George Gershwin. A series of "Symphonic Dances" from "West Side Story" (1961) by Leonard Bernstein will be the final numbers prior to intermission.
The second half program includes "Concerto for Clarinet (2010) by Frank Ticheli and features soloist Daniel Gilbert on clarinet.
Gilbert joined the faculty at U of M as associate professor of clarinet in 2007. Previously, he held the position of second clarinet in the Cleveland Orchestra from 1995 to 2007. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University and both a Master of Music degree and a Professional Studies Certificate from the Julliard School.
Gilbert, a native of New York City, also teaches at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and has served as associate professor of clarinet at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music from 2000 to 2001. Before joining the Cleveland Orchestra, he was active as a freelancer in his native New York City, appearing regularly with such groups at the Metropolitan Opera, American Ballet Theater and New Jersey Symphony, where he played principal clarinet from 1992 to 1995.
The concert program concludes with "A Michigan Dance Suite," "Desi" by Michael Daughterty, "Shimmy" from "Flights of Fancy" (1992) by William Albright and "Machine" from "Symphony No. 5" (1989) by William Bolcom.
Tickets to the Symphony Band concert are $10 each, with all students admitted free. Reynolds believes the concert will be an outstanding experience for students. He is expecting many students to attend.
"In my 26 years, this is probably the biggest thing I've ever done for students to bring this caliber of performance here where they can see what can be done," Reynolds said. "You'd be hard pressed to see anything better without having to travel someplace else."
Doors to the concert open at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at Neiman's Family Market, LeFave Pharmacy, Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union or at the door. For more information, call TBAC at 356-6678.