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British and American types of brass bands were not the only “partnership” implied on a rainy evening at Meymandi Concert Hall. The joint concert was called “Partnership with Youth,” as the Green Hope High School Symphonic Band from nearby Cary visited the veteran players of the Triangle Brass Band.
The young visitors, led by director Brian Myers, occupied the stage up until intermission. They opened with Samuel R. Hazo’s “Ride,” a brief but boisterous piece with a take-charge sound announcing that this ensemble was no group of lightweights. They continued in skilled form with the “Song for Lyndsay,” an especially tuneful piece by Andrew Boysen.
Myers stepped aside for Michelle Leach, intern from Appalachian State University, to lead "Angels in the Architecture," an uncommon and ambitious masterwork by the contemporary composer Frank Ticheli. Soprano Jordan Ferris was the “angel” assisting the players in this intriguing piece with voiced lines at the beginning and again at the end. “I am an angel of Light. / I have soared from above…” This music covered the spiritual spectrum from the serene heavenly to the agitated earthly.
Among other pieces, Triangle Brass Musical Director Tony Granados led in the distinctive “British Eighth,” and Myers came back on for “Wedding Dance,” an arrangement by the great conductor and teacher Frederick Fennell. Of special note and interest was the exceptional “student composition,” composed and led by Jacob Bruner, Green Hope senior and euphonium player. This imaginative piece seemed designed to bring out all the possible orchestral colors.
After intermission Granados brought on the “pros,” beginning with a K.M. Wilkinson arrangement of the March movement from Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis (on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber). This piece was effective in demonstrating the high competence one has come to expect from these forces. Myers returned to lead Percy Grainger’s “Irish Tune from County Derry,” a properly solemn treatment of Danny Boy themes by the Australian-born composer who was so partial to British folk tunes.
The beautiful and full length “Euphonium Concerto” by Vladimir Cosma featured Triangle Brass Band’s own Jesse Rackley. From its raucous opening tutti and on into the appealing motif recurring throughout the Andante movement, this piece constituted a first class musical experience. So proficient was Rackley that he was able to coax sounds from the euphonium ranging from the silky highs of a French horn to the rumbling lows of the tuba.
“Doom’s Day” was a showpiece featuring the percussion ensemble. Here four players collaborated on an unbelievable assortment of instruments (forty?) for a real crowd pleaser.
Granados identified Philip Wilby’s complex “Paganini Variations” as having been composed expressly for British brass bands, no transcriptions needed. The euphoniums began those familiar strains, passing them on to the cornets, and hence throughout the band. This challenging piece received virtuoso treatment by seemingly all instruments, a real testimony to the skill and hard work of these players.
It is good that the Triangle Brass Band lends support to organizations like the Green Hope High School Symphonic Band. Such support helps to assure a reliable supply of qualified replacement musicians if, as, and when needed.