Saturday, April 02, 2011

Venetians and Dragons with Humboldt Bay Brass Band

“Venetians and Dragons,” the Humboldt Bay Brass Band concert on April 2 in Fulkerson Recital Hall, features music ranging from some of the oldest known works for brass to the premiere of an original composition combining elements of classical and jazz by HSU professor and HBBB director Dr. Gilbert Cline. And of course, dragons.

The concert begins at the beginning of brass music, with three works by 16th century Flemish composer Tylmann Susato. “These are partly ceremonial, partly Renaissance dance music,” Cline notes. Natural trumpets—eight-foot long, with no valves—add to the authenticity for one of these works.

Then comes the Venetian component: a brass quartet by Giovanni Gabrieli and “The Battle” by Adriano Banchieri, which features a two-sided musical battle between choirs of brass and percussion. These compositions exemplify the polychoral music of 16th century Venice, with players arrayed to create stereophonic and surround-sound effects.

Closer to home, an 1865 work commemorates the loss of a paddlewheel steamer, Brother Jonathan, off the northern California coast at St. George’s Reef near Crescent City, before its famous lighthouse was built. “The Sunken Rock” features guest singer Philip de Roulet as well as a recently re-discovered 1896 soprano cornet.

Then after intermission come the dragons, in an adventurous three-movement piece by contemporary British composer Philip Sparke. “’The Year of the Dragon’ is a major work, and a tour de force for brass,” Cline said. “It’s not only serious concert music but has served as a required test piece for brass band competitions around the globe.”

The Fulkerson Recital Hall audience will be the first to hear Gil Cline’s 2011 composition, “Contrapuntus in Pastel Minor.” Originally written for Cline’s Midnight Jazztet, this setting for brass maintains its Bach-like counterpoint in a 1950s jazz groove, with jazz solos by Branden Lewis on cornet and George Epperson on trombone.

With 25 brass and four percussion instruments, the Humboldt Bay Brass Band is northern California’s only true brass band in the British and American tradition. Their only local concert of the spring is Saturday April 2 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $7 general, $3 students/seniors, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Free to HSU students with ID. Directed by Gilbert Cline; produced by the HSU Department of Music.

Media: Humboldt State Now,  TriCity Weekly, Arcata Eye, Humboldt Beacon.

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